Commission shows animal passion as project payment passes unanimously

Gary B. Gray • Apr 28, 2014 at 9:59 PM

The Washington County Commission on Monday unanimously approved a $150,000 payment to the Washington County-Johnson City Animal Control Board to help with construction of the new $2.3 million animal shelter on a 6.6-acre tract off North Roan Street.

Commissioners committed a total of $250,000 toward the shelter in 2012. The $150,000 is the remainder of that total.

Nearly one year ago, the Johnson City Commission committed $1.5 million to the new animal shelter, in addition to a previous $350,000 contribution. The Animal Control Board must issue the $1.5 million in debt, not the city. But the city will contribute amounts equal to the debt service on the loan.

“The criteria for them to release the funds came when we had $1 million on hand for construction,” said Washington County-Johnson City Animal Shelter director Debbie Dobbs. “The $150,000 will be cash going into our building fund. The $100,000 will be used for paving at the new site from the county’s highway department.”

County Mayor Dan Eldridge said conditions had been met, and the final part of the commitment, which had been held in reserve, would now be released.

“We are very pleased on the fundraising committee that the Washington County Commission has gone ahead and done this,” said Johnson City Mayor and ACB member Ralph Van Brocklin.

An airy 15,650-square-foot structure was a clear winner over a building designed with a similar capacity but with a flat roof, squared walls and a price tag of about $2.1 million. Architect Thomas Weems, whose mettle definitely has been tested over the past several years while board members crunched numbers and sorted out details, brought the two options to the table with plenty of supporting documentation.

The building will have 9,000 square feet of kennel space and 6,650 square feet of office space. It also features a steel roof and prefabricated exterior brick, a large glass “storefront” look at the entrance, 4-inch-thick interior masonry walls, acoustical ceilings and a 60-ton heating and cooling system to keep animals comfortable.

Commissioners also OK’d a resolution approving tax increment financing for the Johnson City Development Authority to expend $1.25 million for construction of the new Farmers Market/Downtown Pavilion to be constructed within the Downtown Johnson City Redevelopment District.

Weems said the total estimated price of the 11,000 square-foot facility is about $1.6 million.

For purposes of determining property assessments for TIF, Washington County’s property values will be used beginning Jan. 1 and continuing each year thereafter.

Once the JCDA receives the data, it will calculate for the county and city the allocation of tax funds for the new market. The information will be presented to both the city and county for review, certification and payment of tax increment funding actually collected.

Meanwhile, Assessor of Property Scott Buckingham told commissioners the most recent property appraisal process has been conducted, and handed them a list of the 20 properties within the county with the highest appraised values.

“We do have a total number for all properties,” he said. “But at this point that number will continue to change, and many of the higher-valued properties will end up retaining attorneys and challenging the values.”

Buckingham said commercial property tax rates in Washington County are 40 percent, while residential rates — which have not yet been calculated — are 25 percent.

The following is a list of 20 properties within the county with the highest appraised values from the Washington County assessor of property office, making them the largest taxpayers.

1. Haven at Knob Creek $26,006,000

2. Johnson City Crossing $21,996,600

3. Walmart on Browns Mill Road $19,513,700

4. University Edge $18,909,100

5. Sam’s Club $16,222,600

6. MSHA (non-exempt properties) $15,807,000

7. Walmart on West Market Street $14,697,900

8. Mall at Johnson City (parcel 1) $13,825,000

9. Mall at Johnson City (parcel 2) $13,421,400

10. Bank of Tennessee (State of Franklin Road) $13,314,500

11. Kmart $12,579,800

12. Seminole Ridge $12,506,100

13. North Roan Centre $11,514,300

14. Lowes (Johnson City) $11,180,200

15. Bush Hog plant (WC Ind. Park) $10,382,800

16. Gibson Ridge $9,305,000

17. Home Depot $9,175,000

18. Lowe’s (Jonesborough) $9,080,200

19. NHC (retirement/care) $8,667,400

20. CitiGroup (Gray) $8,061,300

Follow Gary B. Gray on Twitter at @ggrayjcpress. Like him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/garybgrayjcp.

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