Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Johnson County Commissioners Approve Budget for County Government Complex

Johnson County Board Chairman Gary Brumley called to order the regular meeting of the Johnson County Board of Commissioners at 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday, October 13.

The first topic, under unfinished business, was the definite figure for the amount of money to borrow for the new county government building complex.

In previous meetings, Chairman Brumley had pushed for as much as the county could comfortably borrow, with suggestions in the range of $9-10 million. Brumley had stressed the need to finish the project after so many years of false starts and delays.

Commissioner Jason Taylor had expressed skepticism, wanting to borrow a significantly lower amount, at one point declining to borrow any amount over $8 million. Taylor emphasized potentially declining revenue and the financial burden the county would carry.

Commissioner Fred Meyer had largely stayed out of the conversation this year, still disappointed at the ultimate location for project and dissatisfied with the way the cost of the building had ballooned throughout negotiations for the better part of the last decade.

Having both done additional research, Commissioner Taylor and Chairman Brumley were ready to vote. With Meyer absent, the two voted to approve the funding for the project at $8.5 million.

Steve Sims of Architechniques expressed his appreciation that a budget had been approved for the project, noting he had been working with the county on the project since at least 2012.

The county approved up to $1,000 for an advertisement in support of the Tunnel Hill 100 Mile Run. The event, which often draws thousands to the area, will be smaller this year due to various social distancing guidelines and precautions. The funding approved comes from the county’s hotel/motel tax, which can only be applied toward tourism-based initiatives.

The board approved the older of the county’s ambulances, a 2001 Ford F450, to be listed on Facebook Marketplace for sale.

Ambulance Director Dorothy Bacon also discussed a variety of options for federal  CARES Act grant funding, including motorized lifts for the ambulances, and ultraviolet sanitation lighting.

County Highway Engineer Brandon Tanner announced that an accident had taken place at the highway department. Though no one was injured, a 28-foot highway trailer was totaled  in the incident.

Commissioner Taylor advocated for the use of some hotel/motel funds for more digital advertising, and proposed the idea of a county tourism website. Taylor remarked on the success of AirBnB and similar services in rural locations across the South and Midwest, and expressed his desire to see the “20 to 45 year-old” demographic be encouraged to travel to the county.

The next regular meeting of the Johnson County Board of Commissioners will be Tuesday, October 27 at 3:30 p.m.

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