No tax increase planned in Johnson City budget; City looks for new fire chief

City commissioners are budgeting $120,000 a year to hire a new assistant city manager

JOHNSON CITY, TN (WJHL) – Johnson City’s Board of Commissioners passed a $225 million budget without an increase in taxes or fees in its first reading.

Mayor David Tomita said they did make some changes, Thursday, including around $500,000 in repairs to the slope over Freedom Hall that is unstable and close to collapse. The budget also includes funding for a third Assistant City Manager.

Johnson City Commissioners also honored retiring Fire Chief Mark Scott.

Friday is Chief Scott’s last day on the job after a thirty-year career. Chief Scott’s retirement comes after a task force recommendation that the city hires a new chief that followed a vote of no confidence and an internal investigation that found the chief may have abused a subordinate.

Thursday night, recent controversies weren’t mentioned, instead, City Manager Pete Peterson and commissioners had nothing but praise for Chief Scott as they honored him with gifts and a resolution marking his retiring.

As the chief steps down – City Manager Pete Peterson has narrowed down the pool of 99 applicants down to just a few and background checks are underway.

At the same time, city commissioners are budgeting $120,000 a year to hire a new Assistant City Manager.

A position that Vice Mayor Jenny Brock said she supports and this person could help with oversight and administration of the fire department staff.

Mayor David Tomita said in their review of the city manager last year the previous commission had identified several things, one of them is the city manager should get away from day to day operations and more into growth, vision and planning. One of the ways Peterson has indicated to accomplish that is to pass off some of the direct reports that come to him.

“He’s going to have to spend some time with the new fire chief for a while but ultimately that report should go to that other assistant city manager,” Tomita said.

Chief Scott said he preferred not to be interviewed following the presentation from the city so he could instead celebrate retirement with his family.

Mayor Tomita said the new fire chief could be named in the next seven to ten days.

City Commissioners still need to approve that city budget in second and third reading, that all needs to happen before July 1.ity leaders are moving forward with plans for a renovated sign in downtown

City leaders are also moving forward with approving plans for a renovated sign in downtown Johnson City. Dianna Cantler with the Washington County Economic Development Council said they’re just below their fundraising goal for renovations to the historic U-Haul sign. they’ve received nearly $30,000 in pledges from the community. Former Mayor Tom Mckee said he would top off any additional money needed for the project.

Copyright 2017 WJHL.  All rights reserved.

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