By: Rebecca Herman
A large crowd gathered for the Johnson County Commissioner’s monthly meeting on Thursday, November 17 and a large number of these citizens were also present for the budget meeting that took place before the commissioner’s meeting.
Many wore custom made shirts that read, “Make Mountain City Great Again,” and were present at both meetings to show support for the first audience members to address the commissioners, Dennis Shekinah, owner of R&D Campground, and Tyler Moffett, lawyer for another local business owner. Both men spoke to the commissioners about concerns over low revenue coming into the county and suggested the commissioners consider putting a referendum on the next election ballot that would allow the county to vote to allow beer sales on Sundays. “Any money brought in would be beneficial to the county,” said Shekinah.
Moffett expressed concern over a possible loss of jobs in the county because of the lack of revenue coming in and spoke of a study that was done that showed a three to nine percent increase of money that could be brought into Johnson County, if beer were to be sold on Sundays. “Beer sales is the third or fourth biggest source of revenue for the county, so I ask the commissioners to read the study and educate yourselves on the financial benefits,” said Moffett.
Another concerned citizen, Tom Stanley, spoke next about the increased taxes in the county, including property taxes and the possible increase in sales tax. Stanley said that the “20 percent increase (on property tax) is over the top,” and that “other revenue is not being taken advantage of.” He felt that the county needs to be trying to bring in other revenue before taxing the citizens, whether that be with adding beer sales on Sunday or bringing in new businesses, which could happen if beer sales and/or liquor laws were changed in the county. Stanley also brought up two past revenue opportunities that fell though in the county and said that the commission needed to be “open-minded because the wheel tax and property tax isn’t going to cut it.”
Mayor Larry Potter spoke to Stanley and the crowd about the two failed business opportunities that Stanley mentioned, explaining that one was hindered by state regulations, while the other would have ended up possibly hurting Johnson County, rather than helping it. He also explained why the county is struggling with revenues: state mandated raises for county elected positions, sending juvenile delinquents to Johnson City to be housed due to regulations that do not allow juveniles to be housed at Johnson County jail, losing state inmates due to overcrowding at the jail, and the state cutting the Hall Income Tax, which “directly impacts the county.” Potter expressed thanks to the crowd for coming out with these concerns and encouraged any citizen, who has ideas on how to bring in revenue to the county, to call and make an appointment with his office. According to Potter, his door is always open. He can be reached at 423-727-9696 or 423-302-8990.
Next, Wayne Davis spoke to commissioners about making 195 feet and 780 feet of A. Davis Lane officially a county road.
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