Tri-Cities looking to embrace expansion of passenger rail in 2020 Joint Legislative Policy

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TRI-CITIES, Tenn.- The Joint Tri-cities legislative agreement comes up in the fall every year to be presented to the Tennessee state legislature in January.

“By no means does this prevent us from adding more things or having discussions or even amending what is in here,” said Kingsport City Manager, Chris McCartt at Tuesday night’s Board of Mayor and Alderman meeting.

Each year- certain items remain on the policy- such as education funding and transportation- but others are more fluid.

A key issue that will be brought up to the legislature- the option to bring a passenger and freight rail service to Tennessee.

“The two cities of Bristol have sought the extension of passenger rail from Roanoke to Bristol, but not only to bristol but through Bristol,” said Bristol, Tennessee City Manager Bill Sorah

Another issue brought up- how the Tri-Cities will make up for Hall Income Tax being removed by adding or adjusting various taxes.

SEE MORE: Elizabethton passes tax increase for 2019-2020

“That’s a significant loss of revenue to a community the size of Bristol, so we would like to be able to explore- at least have the statutory authority to explore or to implement other forms of revenue,” said Sorah.

Tuesday night- Kingsport’s Mayor and Board of Aldermen and Bristol, Tennessee’s City Council unanimously voted to move forward with the five-part, 14 point policy that addresses topics ranging from pain clinics to historic tax credits.

“It does help [the legislature] as they go into session understand what we are looking for and the things we want to see protected- ultimately for any city the thing that you want to maintain control over is local control of policies and revenue,” said McCartt.

Even though some topics might affect one city more than the others- the Tri-Cities are all in this together.

“These items are not only of importance to the Tri-cities but are viewed as important to cities across the state of Tennessee, said Sorah.

Johnson City’s commission is also expected to vote on the policy before meeting with the Tennessee state legislature in late January.

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