Campbell says state annexation moratorium could hamper development

Matthew Lane • Apr 12, 2013 at 12:12 PM

Kingsport City Manager John Campbell is worried about the economic future of the state if an annexation moratorium is enacted, which he said would curtail a very progressive growth policy over the years.

“Cities have traditionally had most of the services — and to do a housing development, or apartments or a commercial development, you need to have an investment in water and sewer. In most medium-sized cities they have those services,” Campbell said. “And it couldn’t come at a worse time because of the need to get the housing industry back on track.”

Campbell said the Smart Growth law provides for orderly, planned growth and more cost effective growth as well.

“You have new legislators who unfortunately did not go through the traditional path in the past, where you serve on city or county boards, commissions or committees that advise governments,” Campbell said. “They don’t have as much understanding for how the process takes place.”

Proponents of annexation have noted over the years that because businesses that need urban services and infrastructure locate in cities, cities tend to be the state’s economic drivers.

For example, last fiscal year, 86 percent of sales taxes collected in Sullivan County were city-based collections. Of that amount, 64 percent was collected in Kingsport, 21 percent in Bristol and 1 percent in Bluff City.

When it comes to county property taxes, more than 64 percent of that revenue was generated on property inside Kingsport, Bristol and Bluff City, according to the 2012-2013 budget of Sullivan County.

The total assessment of commercial property in Sullivan County exceeds $856.4 million, of which $498.56 million is in the city of Kingsport and $249.6 million is in Bristol, $10.6 million is in Bluff City, and $7.25 is in the small portion of Johnson City located in Sullivan County. Just over $90 million is in the unincorporated part of Sullivan County.

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