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Washington County closes books on current fiscal year

Robert Houk • Updated Jun 13, 2018 at 5:47 PM

The Washington County Commission’s Budget Committee spent time Wednesday closing the books on the current fiscal year and preparing for the new one, which begins July 1.

A public hearing on the proposed new $40.8 million general fund budget will be held Wednesday at 9 a.m. in Courtroom 7 of the George Jaynes Justice Center. County commissioners are expected to vote on the new budget at their regular monthly meeting on June 25.

The Budget Committee approved a number of resolutions for line-item budget transfers to end the budget year. As a result of the amendments, Mitch Meredith, the county’s director of finance and administration, said the general fund budget will be more than $400,000 in the black to end fiscal 2018.

Committee members also approved resolutions to transfer funds collected from the downtown Johnson City tax increment financing district to several projects being spearheaded by the Johnson City Development Authority. The JCDA has asked the county for $50,000 from the TIF to complete an extension of the Tweetsie Trail that would create a pedestrian-friendly walkway along Cherry Street to Cherry Street Commons.

Also in that request is $45,000 to make a building fronting Commerce Street accessible to the public at its rear facing Buffalo Street. The plans call for the old railroad platform — which will be leased from Norfolk Southern Railroad — to be made handicap accessible and safety railings installed to allow for sidewalk dining.

In other business Wednesday, the committee:

• Voted to approve an amendment to the proposed new budget adding $5,000 to the county’s register of deeds budget for what officials call a “permanent, part-time position.” Register of Deeds Ginger Jilton said it is a “very important position” that sees the employee working no more than 20 hours a week.

• Approved spending $85,000 for paving the parking lots and driveway at Fall Branch Elementary School. The funds will come from the county’s capital projects fund.

• Authorized the county’s purchasing director to buy 44 energy windows to replace those installed in the Washington County Agriculture Extension Office in Jonesborough. That building was constructed in the 1950s.

Commissioner Joe Grandy, who chairs the Budget Committee, said replacing the windows (at a cost that does not exceed $19,500) is a “long-awaited and much-needed” project.

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