WASHINGTON COUNTY, Tenn. - It's a hot button issue between cities and counties in Tennessee annexation. A new bill could provide a shift in power from cities to residents.
When you enter Washington County Tennessee it can be hard to tell where Johnson City begins and ends because of the annexation of land, homes, and businesses, "I just feel like it's everybody's right if they want to be annexed fine if they don't they shouldn't bother them leave them alone we don't need Johnson City," says Roger Hale.
Roger Hale tells us his farmland was one of the properties Johnson City tried to annex a few years ago but after he battled it they decided not to, "All they want now from me is the money they can get and I don't know they are getting a little bit too big for their britches."
The new bill in Tennessee just passed the house and is moving to a Senate committee. If passed it would require municipalities to hold votes for annexations and not just simply request it, "If the Johnson City Commission is going to make an investment of city tax payer dollars into not municipal areas it has to feel comfortable that at some point it's going to be able to recover those dollars," says Johnson City Mayor Ralph Van Brocklin.
Van Brocklin called for State Senator Rusty Crowe to withdraw the legislation saying it would hurt cities, "For areas that don't have water and sewer it's an impediment to them getting it if this type of approach is used for annexation."
Washington County Tennessee Mayor Dan Eldridge believes the bill is a positive thing, "At the same time the fact that that sales tax is being collected in Johnson City actually ends up being a negative for the county."
Eldridge hopes the bill will encourage everyone in the county to work together, "As opposed to the idea that Johnson City is an island in and of its self and it needs to act independently we all need to be acting together for what's best for all of Washington County."
Meanwhile Roger Hale hopes the bill will give him and others in the community their voices back.
Tennessee Lieutenant Governor Ron Ramsey tells us he expects something will pass this year that will give people more say than they have now.
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