published Thursday, July 5th, 2012

Pikeville puts city hall plans on hold

Pikeville, Tenn., Mayor Greg Johnson
Pikeville, Tenn., Mayor Greg Johnson
Photo by Ben Benton /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

BY THE NUMBERS

$1.5 million: Estimate on new building cost

$75,000: Rural Business Grant for Fabric House property (possible site)

$1 million: USDA loan offered, rejected

Source: Pikeville

Pikeville, Tenn., leaders decided to hold off on moves toward a new city hall as they look for more grant money to hold down costs.

Pikeville Alderman Senia Anderson said officials are shying away from the $1.5 million price tag until the city can find grants that don't cost local taxpayers directly.

"It's a little pricey right now," Anderson said Tuesday. "And we've got too much going. It was going to take too much out of city funds to finish it until we can get some more money from another source."

The city was offered a $1 million U.S. Department of Agriculture loan, but Anderson said officials want to lighten the load on local folks.

"With a loan, you still have to pay it back," she said. "It's not that we don't need a new city hall and it's not that we don't want to do it, we just don't want to take the money out of city funds."

Pikeville Mayor Greg Johnson said the city first studied the funding in 2010.

"The main thing of not moving forward with it was the city would've have had to borrow money, and then the city would have had to raise taxes," Johnson said.

Officials don't have a specific grant in mind but are "just looking at all the options," he said.

Anderson also said she doesn't like the former Fabric House site -- which the city bought with a $75,000 USDA Rural Business grant -- because parking would be restricted and parking for the courthouse would be affected, too.

"That's my opinion; I just don't think that's the right spot," she said. "I think we could do something else there, something smaller, and we'd still have parking."

Anderson said there are "several places" available elsewhere in town, but not on the courthouse square, which was a central idea for the new city hall.

Johnson said putting the project on hold will allow time to apply for grants and iron out details and ideas for a site.

about Ben Benton...

Ben Benton is a news reporter at the Chattanooga Times Free Press. He covers Southeast Tennessee and previously covered North Georgia education. Ben has worked at the Times Free Press since November 2005, first covering Bledsoe and Sequatchie counties and later adding Marion, Grundy and other counties in the northern and western edges of the region to his coverage. He was born and raised in Cleveland, Tenn., a graduate of Bradley Central High School. Benton ...

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