J. H. Osborne • Oct 4, 2007 at 12:00 AM

Commissioners mentioned looking into building a new county office complex to serve the Kingsport area.

BLOUNTVILLE — Kingsport City Manager John Campbell is “in agreement” with a proposal to move a county clerk’s office out of Kingsport’s City Hall, Sullivan County Commissioner Joe Herron said Thursday.

But city officials are interested in keeping the clerk’s office in the downtown area, Commissioner Eddie Williams said.

Commissioner Ralph Harr suggested Williams “consult” with Campbell in the next few days to find “some solution” to the situation.

The comments came during a meeting of the County Commission’s Budget Committee, which eventually agreed with Harr.

Herron, sponsor of a county proposal to move the clerk’s office to a former beauty school in the city’s Highland neighborhood, said he’s already discussed the matter with Campbell.

“If you don’t want to take my word...” Herron said.

Harr said he wasn’t questioning Herron’s word but that Williams should approach Campbell, officially, as chairman of the County Commission’s Building Committee.

Harr and other Budget Committee members mentioned looking into building a new county office complex to serve the Kingsport area.

Herron said County Clerk Jeanie Gammon has been seeking larger, more user-friendly space for her Kingsport branch office for several years. City officials, Herron said, have refused Gammon’s request to renovate the space the office now occupies at City Hall — which is partially owned by the county.

“This junk has been going on too long,” Herron said. “Jeanie Gammon needs this facility. I want her to have it. We don’t need to procrastinate. ... We don’t need to wait. We don’t have $500,000 or more to throw into a building right now.”

Commissioner Elliott Kilgore said he visited the former beauty school property on East Center Street as it rained Thursday morning. He said he wanted to look in the windows to see if any leaks were detectable, but the windows were covered.

“Does the roof leak?” Kilgore asked Herron.

“They’re going to put a new roof on it,” Herron said.

Herron has said the county pays Kingsport about $26,000 per year for maintenance and janitorial services for county office space at City Hall.

That amount would be reduced on a per-square-foot basis if the county relocates part of its offices to another location, Herron said.

The county clerk’s branch office at City Hall is about 1,100 square feet, Herron said, while the building on East Center Street is about 2,600. That extra space could also mean extra storage space for other county offices — including about 633 square feet of storage area in the basement of City Hall, Herron said.

The proposed lease of the former beauty school is on the full commission’s Oct. 15 agenda as “first reading.” That means it would need 16 votes in favor to gain approval. Herron said he had secured a hold on the former beauty school property until Oct. 15.

Moving to the proposed building would allow Gammon enough space to begin offering driver’s license renewals, which would generate new revenue for the county, Herron said.

Herron said the lease can be amended to give the county an “out” in the event the county decides to build a new facility later.

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