KINGSPORT, Tenn. (WJHL) – The state of the city is strong in Kingsport.
Mayor Pat Shull and City Manager Chris McCartt led the annual address Friday morning.
The Cattails Conference Room at the Meadowview Conference Center in Kingsport was packed with community leaders and stakeholders, a far different sight from the address last year that took place in the height of the pandemic.
Shull opened the address shortly after 8 a.m. touching briefly on infrastructure, economic development and financial management.
He spoke on the future of new product lines from Domtar and Eastman soon coming to the Model City.
Shull said while last year was a challenge, he is thrilled that the pandemic didn’t stop people from migrating to Kingsport.
“Some of the happiest people are the ones who just moved here. I honestly can’t think of a better place to call home,” said Shull.
McCartt spoke after Shull, touching first on the accomplishments made city-wide by officials in the last year such as the ribbon cutting of the new city hall— an $8.8 million dollar project.
McCartt also applauded the miracle field project for receiving a nationally recognized ‘project of the year’ award and the 50th anniversary of Bays Mountain Park and Planetarium, a crown jewel in the Model City.
The work of city employees over this whirlwind of a year and a half did not go unnoticed.
“I appreciate the work the staff does every single day. Your city and your city leaders continue to be leaders not just in the city but beyond,” said McCartt.
Of course, with any address comes the topic of budget. A very conservative budget was presented in the 2021 fiscal year due to COVID.
McCartt said in terms of revenue, the city finished strong and there was tremendous growth in sales tax— $19.582 million generated in the 2021 fiscal year.
In terms of residential growth, over 2,200 new housing inventory was built/is being built or is in the development phase. McCartt said hundreds more are in the conceptual phase, hoping to provide housing to those in a time where the housing market is hot and, at times, difficult to navigate.
“The city’s financial health is very sound,” said McCartt.
An update was also given on the Brickyard Park project.
“We are laying the groundwork for reopening cement hill to the citizens of Kingsport,” he said.
McCartt said they’re discussing a deal to build 300 units on this site.
“I can think of no greater magnet than having this adjacent to our downtown,” he said.
He said the timeline for residential development will hopefully be this spring.
McCartt also touched on the projects that have been impacted by COVID. One project put on the back burner due to the pandemic is the Main Street project and Main Street Transit garage.
“When we talk about the rebuild of Main Street, a project we’ve talked a lot about, and the impact it has on our Downtown, the gateway it creates for our downtown and what we believe will be the benefits from that are tremendous,” he said.
City leaders hope they can move forward on both of these projects by Spring along with other infrastructure updates.
“Three and a half million dollars just this fiscal year alone will go toward paving and improving infrastructure,” said McCartt.
The address closed with a look at the strategic plan for the 2021-2022 fiscal year.
McCartt explained the strategy is to support and maintain a healthy economy.
Currently, the city has put out a citizen survey in which the data from these surveys will help them further improve communication among citizens.
“The town is very well run, financially we are very strong and we are seeing growth that’s really unprecedented in the history of our city,” sid McCartt.