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Expansion deal approved, brings 54 jobs to county

By Meg Dickens
Staff Writer

After at least three months of negotiations, Mountain Youth Academy and the Johnson County Commission settled on an agreement. The county will allow Mountain Youth Academy to have the current building and additional land around the area with tax breaks, helping it move forward with its $30 million trauma and treatment program.

According to County Mayor Mike Taylor, the IDB (Industrial Development Board) recommended Mountain Youth Academy’s counter-offer over the county’s sent back in November. Instead of the previous idea, Mountain Youth Academy will continue to pay its regular rent of $72,000 a year for ten years before increasing taxes to reflect the larger establishment. Mayor Taylor projects the expansion will bring in $205,000 in taxes per year, which is a $133,000 increase from the rent.

“The proposal is for no change,” CEO and Managing Director Eric Dunkerly explained. “While we invest in building, we would like to leave our fee as is at $72,000. We would not have any anticipation or expectation of the county incurring any of those (expansion) costs.”

The county will not receive the increased tax payments until after the ten year grace period expires, continuing to receive the same money as if nothing changed. Locals could benefit from this expansion sooner rather than later. The funds for this expansion include a budget for as many as 54 new workers. Dunkerly did not say how soon these new jobs would be available.

The proposal Dunkerly originally pitched included 10 acres of land, but county commissioners expressed concern over government property within that range. The Cold Springs water system’s tank sits on a hill within the 10 acres. Both parties agreed to view the proposed land and come to an agreement. As of this article, neither party saw a reason why decreasing to 7 acres would be an issue as long as the retracted land does not fall within current plans. The County Commission approved this deal conditionally depending on the land issue.

The Johnson County Commission meets the third Thursday of each month at the Johnson County Courthouse at 7 p.m. For more information on local government, visit johnsoncountytn.gov.