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Rusty Wilkerson: BMA should know better than to subsidize housing for the elite

October 29th, 2013 10:22 pm by RUSTY WILKERSON

Rusty Wilkerson: BMA should know better than to subsidize housing for the elite

    When Gini and I moved here some 22-plus years ago, someone let me in on a secret.  Apparently no one who has lived in this area all their life ever forgets who won the game (name the game) between Science Hill and Dobyns-Bennett. (He didn’t mention Tennessee High.  Could it be that Bristol, having its own competition across the state line, doesn’t count?)  

       Once again Kingsport has lost the ongoing battle of the Tri-Cities.  We don’t have as many houses that cost $500,000 or, even worse, more than Johnson City!  

       Not to fear though.  The “Magnificent Seven” has enacted legislation to fix the situation.  In their infinite wisdom, they have decreed that we taxpayers are going to supplement developers so they will build more homes for the elite.  No doubt that will remedy the problem. The mayor says those folks will bring in lots of tax revenue to offset the city’s debt load.  It won’t be long until the Real Estate section in the Times-News will be full of estates and large homes for sale.  What was the movie?  Oh yes.  Build it and they will come!  Yeah!

       Who knows?  We might even get a couple of gated golf course communities as well.  Folks with enough income to afford big homes want to be safe and secure, and more importantly insulated from the peons.  We might even surpass Myrtle Beach in the process.  (“She Who Is To Be Obeyed” and I visited one of my classmates last week who lives just north of there.  Seemingly, there was a gated golf course community every mile or so.  No wonder every time I turn on my computer there is another golf package being advertised.)

       I’m sure that none of our esteemed leaders ever thought about the lack of flat, buildable home sites within the city limits.  No matter.  We have plenty of flood plain near the Aquatic Center and out Wilcox Drive.  With some imagination, architects and developers could hang some homes off of Bays Mountain a la Frank Lloyd Wright.  Of course the BMA would have to outlay some more of the public treasury (or issue more bonds) to build new roads and infrastructure (or even a ski slope) to make it more suitable for larger homes/communities for the more affluent.  Who cares that the existing city infrastructure is falling apart?  What’s another pothole or two? That “can” can go down the road and be some future BMA’s problem.

       Being in the public employ for almost all of my working life, I can’t say that I am familiar with the nuances and economics of the private sector. Maybe there is some secret that I’m not aware of.  Could it be that Eastman is planning to hire a large number of employees who will make six-figure-plus incomes?  Maybe there is another high income operation coming to town whose employees will make that kind of money. 

       Lastly, I’m sure the latest decision to outlay more of the public money has nothing to with the glut of starving real estate agents in town.   Who knows?  The commissions on half-million-dollar sales will be considerably more than that of a lesser value sale.  Maybe some of those agents/owners will be one of the buyers of these new homes?  No doubt the developers will kick back more than the agreed upon $5,000 when they sell a home just out of the goodness of their heart. The landowners will no doubt lower their price to get within that $5,000.

       I was told something many years ago that should be tattooed on every public official.  Perception is reality!  Sometimes the secret is to do what is said before every play at the Barter Theater.  “Just keep your mouth shut!”

Rusty Wilkerson is a Kingsport resident. E-mail him at

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