The proposed budget for fiscal year 2018, which is July 1, 2017-June 30, 2018, includes spending $1.1 million from Blount County’s General Fund balance to use to recruit one company to Blount County. I sent a list of questions to the Director of Accounts and Budgets, commonly referred to as the Finance Director, Randy Vineyard. His answers directly follow each question.
At the Agenda Committee meeting, I asked Mayor Ed Mitchell what the total costs in incentives will be for this one company. He didn’t know. It is likely that the City of Maryville and the State of Tennessee will also provide incentives. With the county offering to spend $1.1M, this is obviously an expensive proposition.
Your elected local legislative officials are being asked to approve this without knowing the full costs to the taxpayers and with little knowledge about the company. This is somewhat like putting the money into a blind trust and hoping that unelected bureaucrats and a few politicians in the know will make sound decisions with you money.
Things to keep in mind:
- The commission doesn’t receive reports from the Industrial Development Board (IDB), detailing the use and results of your tax money that it receives from the county.
- The IDB doesn’t even provide the commission with a copy of its annual budget.
- Commissioner Jamie Daly and I were blocked for asking questions about the IDB/Blount Partnership/Chamber of Commerce/Smoky Mountain Tourism Development Authority.
- The commission has been provided nothing in writing about this deal/proposal, other than to identify the use of funds as an “Economic Development Project.”
- This $1.1M is in addition to the $1,062,200 that the IDB received this year and will receive again next year.
- The IDB/Blount Partnership has failed to provide a copy of IDB’s open records policy, which I asked for in May.
The Pellissippi Place, AMI, and the IDB’s handling of the racetrack should give us pause before handing over any more money for corporate welfare, particularly when nearly everything about this is a secret. It is past time for the state legislature to pass a local government uniform tax incentives act, which would eliminate the secret, special corporate handouts.
Budget Questions sent to the Director of Accounts and Budgets:
From: Angelie Shankle <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Fri, Jun 2, 2017 at 3:24 PM
Subject: Fwd: Budget Questions
To: Randolph Vineyard <email@example.com>
Dear Director of Accounts and Budgets,
Questions related to Fund 189
1. How much, if any, of the $1,850,000 for IT is money that will be left over from the current budget year? None
2. With the budget request for the upcoming year, what will the total budgeted costs (eliminating duplication of unspent appropriations from prior years) for the IT project be? $1.85m for 17-18; $1.3m prior
3. What is the $1.1M economic development project for? A project that hasn’t been disclosed publicly yet; payback in 2 years; creation of 1000 jobs
4. Is this $1.1M in addition to the $1,062,200 that is current budgeted? Yes
5. Will the economic development costs for FY be over $2M? For FY17-18? If project comes to fruition, yes.
6. If so, is this expected to reoccur in future years? No, not the $1.1m for the econ. dev. proj.
7. What is the $415,000 labeled BCSO officer safety capital needs for? body cams, rifles, ballistic helmets/vests, active shooter kits, jail camera replacements-2nd phase
Questions related to use of Fund Balance and Maintenance of Effort
1. How much of the General Fund balance will be appropriated in the proposed budget? $3.4m
2. What do you anticipate the General Fund balance being at the end of the current fiscal year? haven’t estimated yet, but was $15m FY15-16 year end
3. How much of the School’s General Purpose Fund balance will be appropriated in the proposed budget? $3.1m was proposed
4. What do you anticipate the School’s General Purpose Fund balance being at the end of the current fiscal year? Troy Logan question
5. Does use of the School’s General Purpose Fund balance contribute to the MOE in future years, meaning will the county have to provide the same amount next year even if it does not have the fund balance to supply the same amount? Troy Logan question
6. What is the current school MOE? Troy Logan question
7. What will the school MOE be if the proposed FY 18 budget is adopted? Troy Logan question