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Local News

Resolution against Suncrest Annexation on county agenda

February 25th, 2012 10:31 pm by Gary B. Gray

The Washington County Commission on Monday will consider a resolution opposing Johnson City’s Suncrest Annexation, which is headed to the City Commission for likely approval within the next two months.
Commissioners Mark Larkey and Roger Nave drafted the resolution.
“I feel like the citizens being annexed are bearing the brunt of sales tax revenue generated by Johnson City,” Larkey said.
There are more than just a few county commissioners opposed to the annexation, County Commission Chairman Greg Matherly said.
“There are some very upset citizens out there that don’t want to be annexed,” he said. “That’s a big commitment to those folks out there. I’ll probably support (the resolution), just for the fact that they don’t want to be annexed.”
The city’s first phase of an ambitious plan to annex about 600 acres along the Bobby Hicks Highway corridor is dubbed the Suncrest Annexation, which is comprised of more than 300 acres on or near Suncrest Drive. About 100 property owners from or near Gray showed up at the Johnson City Regional Planning Commission meeting earlier this month when members voted 6-1 to recommend to the City Commission that the annexation go forward.
“It appears in talking with them (county commissioners) that this resolution does have enough votes to pass,” said Danny Sells, who has been the acting spokesman for Citizens to Maintain Gray. “We are very supportive of the resolution, but we understand it will have little effect on the City Commission.”
Sells, who handed planning commission members a list of questions and a request for a workshop to be passed on to the City Commission, said he hasn’t heard a peep from the city.
County commissioners also will consider a resolution requesting the General Assembly adopt a private act creating a new office of county attorney. John Rambo, who is referred to as the county attorney, is in fact a private attorney whom the county pays a $30,000 annual retainer. He also receives an hourly rate as set by his private practice, Rambo Law Firm.
According to the resolution, a new Legal Services Oversight Committee would be formed to oversee the county attorney, including setting a salary, which has not yet been established. However, the annual salary of a full-time county attorney — which would be recommended by the committee and confirmed by a majority vote of the County Commission — would begin at $148,000, the minimum established salary for Washington County Sessions Court judges, according to Washington County’s Accounting & Budget Department.
The total legal services budget for the county in fiscal year 2010-11 was about $265,000, according to Finance Director Bobbye Webb. This includes payments for Rambo’s services as well as all other legal services.
Commissioners also will consider confirmation of Jonesborough native Ned Irwin as the county’s first archivist. In late January, Irwin was unanimously chosen by the Washington County Public Records Commission to be recommended to the full commission.
Irwin, 57, has been East Tennessee State University’s archivist since 1994 and has worked as a specialist in the field for 25 years, including a stint at the Chattanooga Public Library.
Finally, commissioners also will consider the appointment of two members to the Washington County-Johnson City Animal Control Board. Two board members’ terms have expired, and County Mayor Dan Eldridge has recommended Pat Wolfe and David Tomita.

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