Nick Bright refutes Tom Cole’s campaign mailer

My opponent, incumbent Commissioner Tom Cole, sent a campaign mailer out about his voting record that has me wondering if he remembers how he votes or even understands what he is voting on.

The heading is “My Voting Record” and the 4 points are:

  • Yes to convert the variable rate debt to fixed rate
  • Yes to converting $.04 cents of the sales tax to school capital fund
  • No on The Property Tax Increase
  • No on the Commission Pay Raise (Twice)

Cole says that he voted yes to convert the variable rate debt to fixed rate but the very first vote that he cast on fixed rate debt was a no vote.  See the meeting minutes of the called commission meeting held on October 14, 2014.  Cole was one of 2 no votes.

Cole says that he voted yes to converting $.04 cents of the sales tax to the school (education) capital projects fund.  The local portion of the sales tax is $.0275.  The entire amount of the local option sales tax is less than $.04.  It was $.04 of the property tax that was appropriated to the education capital projects fund.  Apparently Cole doesn’t know one tax from the other.

In 2016 an amendment was proposed to increase the $.04 education capital projects fund to $.05 and reduce the general purpose school fund by $.01.  This would have given the schools about an additional $120,000 without raising taxes because the money appropriated to this fund does not have to be split with the city schools.  Cole voted against this shift of the property tax that would have saved the county taxpayers about $120,000 and not raised your property tax.

What does Cole mean when he says he voted yes to converting $.04?  Is he saying that $.04 was moved from one place in the budget to another?  If so, that’s not the case.  The $.04 cents was added to the budget in fiscal year 2016 (July 1, 2015-June 30, 2016), the year that the majority of commissioners voted to raise the property tax from $2.15 to $2.47.  That brings us to his next bullet point.

Cole did vote against the property tax increase in 2015 but his claim is disingenuous for a couple of reasons.  The $.04 from a tax that he can’t get right and he says he supports was part of the property tax increase.  An amendment was made at the June 18, 2015 commission meeting to set the property tax rate at $2.43.  An amendment to this amendment was made to raise $2.43 to $2.47 for the $.04 education capital projects fund that Cole calls a sales tax.  See page 63 for the property tax votes.  Thus, he did vote to increase the property tax rate by $.04 but tells us that he voted against the property tax increase.

The next budget year he voted for the $2.47 property tax rate; therefore, he did support the property tax increase.  He just did it one year later than the majority of commissioners.  See page 3 for his votes on the fiscal year 2017 property tax rate, including the $.01 education capital projects fund vote that would have saved you money.

On the last bullet point, Cole is correct.  He did vote against the pay raise twice, but we all know that a broken clock is right twice a day.

On election day, May 1st, please vote for Nick Bright for Blount County Commissioner, District 6 Seat A.  I’ll work to get the taxes and my votes straight, unlike my opponent who doesn’t seem to know what he’s talking about.

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