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The City of Kingsport Board of Mayor and Aldermen spent Friday, February 7 reviewing updates on the FY20 budget, financial outlook for FY21, and current efforts in economic development.

Here are the highlights of discussions:

Financial Overview

  • Kingsport’s general fund budget is just over $82 million dollars. Property taxes make up almost 50% of the total revenue, with local sales tax making up nearly 22%.
  • The city’s outstanding debt roll off is about $8.9 million a year.
  • There are four challenges to increasing budget growth: the national economy, online sales tax collection, retail sales growth and expanding housing.
  • Based on current projections, the city should come in about 1% over budget.

Economic Development

  • Kingsport has renewed its partnership with Buxton, a company specializing in customer analytics and predictive analytic tools, to help bring new retailers that data shows will be successful to the city. Learn more about Buxton at buxtonco.com.
  • Working with Buxton helps Kingsport have a three-prong approach to recruiting new business. First, Buxton brings data to the table that helps drive city decisions. Second, the decisions help Kingsport’s Economic Director Jason Hudson go after potential businesses. Third, Hudson works with the potential new business or property owner to get them to commit to Kingsport.
  • The main drivers that contribute to economic development include:
    • Housing – quality of homes and apartments, availability and affordability
    • Quality of life – current crime statistics and healthcare options
    • Jobs – worker retention and growth, attracting new workers and establishing startups
    • Workforce – unemployment rates, skill training and childcare options
    • Entertainment – variety of restaurants, outdoor activities, tourism attractions
    • Retail
  • The main priorities for the Economic Development Department include retail development, entrepreneurship, 5G technology, housing inventory, childcare and family activities.

Move to Kingsport

  • Data shows people are moving to Kingsport for two things: employment and being closer to family, whether that’s retirement or homecoming.
  • People move to Kingsport because they are interested in a high quality of life and a low cost of living.
  • Kingsport has desirable public amenities, such as swimming, walking/biking, easy traveling access and wellness and fitness options. However, to attract and retain the younger generations, there is a need for Kingsport to have the most current technology, such as 5G accessibility, and the ‘extra’ amenities like food delivery services, entertainment and new experiences options.

Housing

  • From 2010 to 2018, Kingsport had a 24.4% increase in total housing units.
  • In 2019, the annual median single-family home resale price was about $157,000.
  • In Kingsport, it’s cheaper to buy a house than to rent one.

General Shale Update

  • After receiving a report prepared by Sterling Project Development, a company that looked at the property size, soil types and possible ‘best uses’ for the acreage, the BMA narrowed down the seven options to just three. The three ‘best uses’ for this land are festival grounds and residential development, solely residential, or festival grounds and last mile distribution.
  • The General Shale property is 100 acres total, with 39 acres ready to be developed now.
  • An actionable item for the property is a Bike Pump Track, a project that has been discussed for many years after first originating from a Leadership Kingsport Community Impact Project.  The pump track, which had the full support from the board members, will move forward with more detail design work.

Please watch for more information being released this week in regards to these topics.