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Johnson City Development Authority's budget slashed in anticipation of funding losses

Nathan Baker • Updated Feb 9, 2018 at 11:58 PM

Reductions next year built into a lucrative lease with a community college for its downtown campus are expected to significantly affect the Johnson City Development Authority and its programming.

At its monthly meeting Friday, the governing board approved a fiscal year 2018-19 budget that halves the authority’s spending for downtown development and downtown events and programs, brought about by an expected $130,440 reduction in revenues from its agreement with Northeast State Community College to lease the Downtown Center.

The payment decrease from $22,740 to $1,000 monthly was written into the lease’s structure, which required the college to pay more up front to settle part of the loans taken out by the development authority to help pay for the center’s building improvements.

Before the vote on the budget, which also must be approved by the Johnson City Commission as part of its annual budget, authority board chair Robert Williams said the revenue could be made up by the creation of a Central Business Improvement District.

“Obviously, the reduction in the lease income is affecting our expenses and our programs, our potential capital projects, etc., which therefore shows the importance of really moving forward with this CBID,” Williams said.

In an improvement district, business owners pay elective fees to support programming within the district.

The development authority’s staff has held one stakeholder meeting with downtown business owners about the business improvement district proposal and plan more in the coming months. Williams said, should the board decide to move forward with it, attorneys are ready to draw up the paperwork for the City Commission’s approval.

Other highlights from the authority’s budget:

• Total income is down 6 percent from this year, but revenue from downtown tax increment financing districts is expected to increase 5 percent, driven by increases in property values.

• Because of cost-cutting spurred by the loss of lease revenue, total expenses are budgeted at 20 percent less.

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