Johnson City leaders may soon decide on ETSU fine arts center funding

JOHNSON CITY, TN (WJHL) – Johnson City leaders are expected to make a decision by the end of this month about whether the city will give East Tennessee State University $8 million to expand its planned performing arts center.

According to City Manager Pete Peterson, the city is in the process of trying to figure out if that $8 million investment is a good use of taxpayer money and if it’s even financially feasible. He says leaders also want to nail down exactly where the money would come from, how the payments would be spread out and what kind of use the community would get out of the facility.

Peterson says ETSU wants to use Johnson City’s funds to expand its planned performing arts center by 500 seats, which would allow the center to attract touring shows.

“We feel like it’s probably the best opportunity that the community as a whole would have to end up with a 1,250 seat performing arts center without having to pay for the entire cost of the facility,” he said.

Peterson says both sides are currently ironing out a memorandum of understanding, which would allow each partner to clarify in writing their responsibilities and expectations so that when administrations at the city and university eventually change the transition will be a smooth one.

“An $8 million investment is a great enhancement to the community, but it’s also a very significant amount of money, so we need to ensure that our needs in terms of that building are met,” Peterson said. “There will absolutely be a clear memorandum of understanding that lays out all of the details.”

The city manager says he expects commissioners to take a vote about funding the project later this month.

Copyright 2015 WJHL. All rights reserved.

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