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Jonesborough gets clean audit, votes for restaurant's beer license

Becky Campbell • Feb 11, 2019 at 10:53 PM

The town of Jonesborough’s annual audit was presented to the Board of Mayor and Aldermen on Monday and showed no findings and just a few recommendations to improve a few areas, including the town’s purchasing procedure.

A representative from Blackburn, Childers & Stegall PLC accounting firm told the board the 2017-18 audit was the first time in several years there were no findings in the town’s financial documentation. The town’s net position as shown by the audit, which is a cumulative effect, was $35 million, up $500,000 from the previous fiscal year, CPA David Babb told the board.

 To break that down into more understandable information, the town has approximately $6,400 per town resident in the town’s fund balance. By comparison, Johnson City’s per resident fund balance is approximately $5,200, Babb said.

In terms of town debt, Babb said the per citizen debt was $1,100, compared to Johnson City’s per citizen debt of $1,400.

“We’re doing well in that regard,” Babb said. “As of today, on this audit, we have zero findings, and that’s the first year we’ve had zero findings in several years. I think that’s something to be very happy about, and congratulations to everyone involved in management.”

In other business, the BMA approved a beer license for Texas Burritos & More, located on Courthouse Square. Owners Mary and Roger Sipple applied for the license through the town and the state Alcoholic Beverage Commision in late January. The restaurant opened last year, but had to go through the approval process to serve beer.

The board unanimously voted to approve the license with little discussion except to praise the new establishment.

“It’s awesome, good food, a good place,” Alderman Stephen Callahan told Robert Sipple, who attended the meeting to answer any questions the board might have.

”Thank you for choosing Jonesborough,” Callahan said.

The board also discussed a request from the Jonesborough Repertory Theater’s request to change the profit percentage the town takes from net proceeds. The JRT wanted the board to reduce the town’s 50 percent share of the net profit to 40 percent.

The current agreement calls for the town to receive 50 percent, the JRT board to receive 25 percent and the artistic director to receive 25 percent of the net profit. For the fiscal year ending June 30, 2018, the JRT’s net profit was $108,213.

The town’s part of that net profit was $54,107, but the town had $44,947 in expenses for the theater, giving the town a net profit of $9,160. With the proposed change by the JRT, the town would have lost money, approximately $1,662.

Instead of cutting the town’s percentage take of the JRT profit, Mayor Chuck Vest proposed a $6,000 expenditure to the JRT to fund a part-time employee who has started in order to help maintain the increasing accounting due to the theater’s growth. Alderman Virginia Causey wanted to delay any action on the request until the board begins the budget process for 2019-20.

“Why do it now?” Causey said, when the JRT wouldn’t get the $6,000 until the next fiscal budget. Alderman Terry Countermine said, “why not?” because it would show the JRT the town’s appreciation for what it brings to Jonesborough and give the theater the assurance of that $6,000 funding for the next fiscal year now.

Town Administrator Bob Browning said it really didn’t matter whether the board voted Monday or later this year.

“I think it’s a statement of support from the board,” Browning said.

Part of Vest’s proposal also called for any revenue generated through the net profit of productions above what the town incurs for non-production expenses, up to $10,000, be paid to the JRT board. Anything above the $10,000 would be paid to the town.

After further discussion, a motion was made from Callahan to cap payment to the JRT board to $5,000 instead of $10,000. That motion failed and the board went on to vote for Vest’s original motion. The vote was split 2-2, with Countermine and Vice Mayor Adam Dixon voting yes and Callahan and Causey voting no. Vest broke the tie, voting yes to pass the motion.

Browning reminded the board that the current agreement with JRT will only remain in effect until the Jackson Theater is completed and begins productions there. Once that happens, the town and the JRT will have to hammer out a new agreement.

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