Carter County Tomorrow, leases and Northeast State discussed during Building and Grounds meeting

Published 8:35 am Friday, October 4, 2019

As Carter County Tomorrow continues the process of dissolution, the county is continuing setting up all the transfers of bills and leases to where they need to go.

County Mayor Russell Barnett provided an update on that process to the Building and Grounds Committee during their meeting Tuesday evening.

“They are wanting to be finished up by November 1,” Barnett said. “If not, they will have to have another audit.”

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In order to transfer the bills and those payments, Barnett said Finance Director Brad Burke recommended a line item be added to the Mayor’s Office budget to accommodate the process.

“You are talking about an in-house maintenance department that we could possibly inherit,” Commissioner Mike Hill said. “The revenues generated by the rents have currently been substantial enough to fund [them].”

Hill said in past meetings he wanted to look into the county potentially inheriting the leases and contracts on the buildings.

As discussion on where the leases are going to go, however, Commissioner Robert Acuff expressed concerns about one of those tenants: Northeast State.

“They have already been told by the Tennessee Board of Regents that they cannot invest any more money in a building they do not own,” Acuff said.

Another issue complicating Northeast’s involvement in Carter County is what Acuff called a “push and pull” in the community college market in the area, particularly between Northeast and the Tennessee College of Applied Technology.

The prospect of losing Northeast is tough, given there are not many local options for Carter County residents.

“I am very concerned for our kids,” Acuff said.

He said the lack of local colleges in the area could have a negative effect on the availability of dual enrollment programs at the high schools.

Hill said the average cost of Northeast’s other two campuses is about $50 per head.

“The cost per head on the Elizabethton campus is about $500,” Hill said. “You are talking ten times the cost of goods. That is unsustainable to them.”

He said the loss of Northeast’s Elizabethton campus would also reduce the number of available campuses who take the Tennessee Promise, which would reduce everyone’s enrollment numbers as a whole.

The committee discussed potentially reaching out to Northeast to attend their next meeting and see if a potential solution is possible.