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Committee wants flood victims to get break on building permit fees

During the Sept. 13 Budget Committee meeting, Mayor Dan Eldridge said he has already had several people ask if the county will waive the building permit fees for flood victims, similar to what was done after last year’s tornadoes.
Commissioner Pete Speropulos said the Zoning Administration Oversight Committee has recommended waiving the fees, but only for those who meet the criteria to receive assistance.
Commissioner Ethan Flynn spoke with Zoning Administrator Mike Rutherford, who estimates the cost of waiving fees could be up to $25,000.
“That’s still a significant cost,” Commissioner Joe Grandy said. “This is something we should not lose sight of, considering all the county is already doing.”
Eldridge said the Washington County – Johnson City Emergency Management Agency is compiling the list of expected permit requests.
Flynn made a motion to waive the building fees for eligible flood victims. The motion was seconded by Grandy and passed unanimously.
Budget Committee members also will recommend the county commission set aside $178,000 from the General Fund for creek cleanup, which is 25 percent of the estimated $712,000 total cost.
“We don’t have the resources to do this job,” Highway Superintendent John Deakins said.
According to Deakins, the bids will open Friday, Sept. 28. Interested companies have to tour all the sites prior to providing a bid. Work will be focused on preventing future flooding, and will require removal of trees and re-routing the stream in several places.
“We also have to find a place to store several tons of debris, which include a lot of river rock,” Deakins said.
Eldridge asked if the money could taken out of the highway fund balance, but County Attorney John Rambo said those dollars are restricted to roads.
“When you get out of roads and rights of way, the highway department has to charge for the work,” Rambo said. “We didn’t have to do it like this with the tornadoes because we had a disaster declaration and FEMA was involved.”
Flynn made a motion, seconded by Grandy, to recommend $178,000 from the General Fund budget be designated for stream cleanup.