Judge finds Washington County’s argument persuasive in lawsuit against Johnson City

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JOHNSON CITY, TN (WJHL) – A judge ruled in Washington County’s favor in a lawsuit filed against Johnson City.

The case was brought by Washington County and the Washington County school system with a claim that the city has been receiving liquor-by-the-drink tax revenue and not sharing it with the county.

Liquor sales at bars and restaurants generate a tax. The state keeps half, and the other half is sent back to the local jurisdiction where the tax was generated. It is used for education.

Washington County claims Johnson City should have been turning over a portion of that tax since the 1980s. Last week, a judge found the county’s argument persuasive.

But the order isn’t final, and the attorney representing Johnson City said some are wondering if the city will appeal.

“That decision is not ripe at this point to be made, the City Commission is the only one that can make that decision,” said attorney Erick Herrin.

A hearing will be held to establish the amount Johnson City may owe Washington County.

Washington County is claiming $3.4 million.

Herrin says the judge’s opinion is the only one so far that is favorable to a county, not a city.Copyright 2016 WJHL. All rights reserved.

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