Here we are, another year older and another year wiser. In 2011 we learned that Republicans are not serious about cutting spending. We learned that Republicans are willing to increase taxes in order to cover their horrible spending addiction. We also learned that Republicans like bigger government. Will 2012 be any different? Let’s find out!
The first item of the New Year involved…creating more government! The Tourism Authority would track tourism dollars with the Blount County, City of Alcoa, and City of Maryville governments being involved. This is not a new agency, simply an expansion of an existing one (Folts voted No). By 19 Republicans approving this, the Blount County commission has “…authorized to levy a privilege tax upon the privilege of occupancy in any hotel…not to exceed 5%”. Any business owner not reporting the tax will be charged $50. This agency will not be answerable to the commission and therefore not answerable to the citizens. This, of course, presumes the commission believes itself answerable to its constituents.
The next items were authorizing a $55,000 Debt Service Fund increase (All voted yes), a $19,000 Schools Adult Education budget increase (All voted yes), and a $62,000 General County Visitor Center budget increase (Folts and Hasty voted No). More spending!
And what month would be complete without more grant money? The (20) commissioners who were present voted to apply for The Institute of Museum and Library Services grant. According to the resolution, “…the grant requires no matching money and would be fully funded.” What do they mean it “…would be fully funded?” Do these people not understand that grant money is just money taken from taxpayers? Whatever the government gives, it must first take away.
One of the final items was the adoption of a debt policy that would, “…establish a set of parameters by which debt obligations will be undertaken by the Blount County Government.” Why don’t our commissioners adopt a “No More Spending” Debt Policy? Oh yeah, I forgot, Republicans love big government!
And, in a move that left most of us scratching our heads, Mayor Mitchell appointed ex-Mayor Jerry Cunningham to the Public Building Authority. This is the agency that got us into the million-dollar toxic asset game. Under Jerry Cunningham’s watch, Blount County’s debt went from $60 Million to $250 Million. And this is a guy you want back in government? And despite the fact that our past budget committee has overseen Millions of dollars in spending and recommended little, if any, budget cuts, Mayor Mitchell re-appointed the same folks to this year’s committee. It would appear that Mayor Mitchell is part of the problem.
So, while we may be older and wiser, we can at least rest easy in the fact that we are a year closer to voting these irresponsible commissioners out of office!
Here is the grading scale:
A – Participated in the discussion and voted to uphold the libertarian values of fiscal responsibility and/or personal liberty
B – Did not participate, but voted to uphold libertarian values
C – Participated in the discussion and voted against libertarian values
F – Did not participate and voted against libertarian values
Here are the grades for January: Folts: C; The rest: F.