Washington County reaping downtown TIF rewards

Robert Houk • Nov 26, 2018 at 8:58 PM

Craig Torbett, the chairman of the TIF Advisory Board and a member of the Johnson City Development Authority, told Washington County commissioners Monday the county is getting an annual return on its investment from the downtown tax increment financing district, which has resulted in $4.8 million in public improvements since its creation in 2008.

Torbett said the county has seen its appraised property values grow by $87 million in the downtown area since the creation of the TIF. He said that is a “significantly” higher rate than what has been seen in other areas of the county.

When a TIF district is established, participating businesses and developers have a portion of their property taxes allocated to pay for improvements they would otherwise have had to fund themselves, such as infrastructure and storm water improvements.

Commissioner Phil Carriger said the county has spent roughly $6 million over the past 10 years to reap $87 million in property taxes.

“Sounds like a good investment to me,” he said.

Even so, Commissioner Kent Harris questioned if the growth in the area could be attributed entirely to the TIF district. Harris noted appraised property values have also increased “in my part of the county.”

Diana Cantler, the director of downtown development for the Northeast Tennessee Regional Economic Partnership, said work to improve dilapidated buildings and offer better walking opportunities in the downtown district “has impacted the quality of life for all Washington County citizens.”

While much work has been done to revitalize the downtown, more is needed. She said state officials continue to classify the district as a “blighted” area. She said there are properties in the downtown that still need repair.

In other business Monday, commissioners voted to:

• Approve a request from the town of Jonesborough for the Washington County Highway Department to do paving work that would tie into East Main Street, down Franklin Avenue to Spring Street.

The cost of the paving work would be paid by Jonesborough. State law allows county highway departments to do such projects as long as they are approved by county commissioners and reimbursed by local governments.

• Approve spending $700 for cleaning property owned by Charles Price, 120 Daveys Court, Jonesborough; and $550 for environmental cleanup of property owned by Justin D. Cannon, 157 Buttermilk Road, Gray.

• Spend a combined $10,500 for two fire hydrants in a subdivision near Cooper Hill Drive, and one fire hydrant at the intersection of Miller Crossing and Old Embreeville Road.

• Approve a request from the Highway Department to transfer $535,000 from its fund balance to purchase four trucks with snowplows and salt spreaders. The move will allow the department to update equipment that has been in use since 1999.

Commissioners also held a moment of silence for former Washington County Trustee Jack Daniels, who died Friday at the age of 85. Daniels, who served 28 years in the courthouse office, retired in 2014.

Recommended for You

    Johnson City Press Videos