Does the Nonsense ever end?

Lail and Burkhalter are going to bring a resolution to put a wheel tax on the ballot, less than 6 months after the citizens of Blount County defeated a sales tax increase for the second time in the past 5 years.  The citizens of Blount County have already voted down a wheel tax.  When will these Republican morons learn? 

4 major sources of revenue are a wheel tax, sales tax, hotel/motel tax and property tax for local government. 

Sales Tax:

The people of Blount Co. have made it clear that they don’t want a higher sales tax.  They’ve told the Commission this twice in the last 5 years.  9 1/4% is high enough.

Wheel Tax:

The people of Blount Co. voted this down.  Why should they have to do it again, especially after just saying no a 2nd time to a sales tax increase?

Hotel/Motel Tax:

This tax is over looked, but shouldn’t be.  The Commission choose to waste 70% of this by handing it over to an unelected fascist board so that good ole boys can promote their businesses.  The Commission should repeal the Smoky Mountain Tourism Board and take those precious tax dollars back and use them much more wisely.

Property Tax:

The all Republican Commission has no problem with raising property taxes, as they did the first year of the new term.  However, there are limits to how much you can raise taxes before people will complain and before businesses will choose to locate where tax rates are lower.  The Commission continues to fund the debacle Industrial Development Board, so that special deals can be handed to businesses.  Tax abatements are given without Commission oversight.  It’s more fascism and good ole boy corporate cronyism.

Spending cuts:

Hey Commissioners, has it ever occured to you that it’s your duty to smack the hands of government employees with bloated budgets?  You can start with the Sheriff’s office.  He doesn’t need every toy and luxury known to man.  Then start asking the tough questions about the schools.  Additionally, stop the corporate cronyism giving tax abatments to some and not others, and reclaim the 70% of the hotel/motel tax that you have wasted.

Additional Information to Consider:

A study of the statistical charts that Mr. Vineyard puts together with the audit report can help focus on developing solutions to this problem.

School Enrollment:

As of 2012, enrollment was approximately 11,300 students. The last time the Co. had that many students in the system was 2005. That year, the Schools employed 1145 people and were using approximately 1,900,000 square feet of space.  However, in 2012 the Schools employed 1518 people versus the 1145 people they had in 2005 – a 32% increase. Also, in 2012, the Schools were using 2,300,000 square feet of space versus the 1,900,000 square feet used in 2005 – a 23% increase, or the equivalent of 2-3 mid-sized schools.

Past Commissions played a role in creating the problem we are facing. Beginning in 2007, the Commission significantly reduced the portion of our property taxes going to the Schools. From 2003 thru 2006, the Schools were receiving approximately 38% of the total property taxes. In 2007, the portion of the property taxes going to the schools dropped to 33% and has averaged 33.5% since 2007.

From 2002 to 2006 a $10 million fund balance in the General Fund was nearly emptied. It was used to fuel unbudgeted spending in two broad areas of the General Fund – Public Safety and Administration of Justice. In that period, spending in both categories grew at three to four times the rate of inflation.

Rather than cutting spending to fix the problem, the Commission chose to reduce the portion of the property tax dollar going to the schools, and redirect it to the General Fund, to rebuild the fund balance. The effect of this action in the period from 2007 to 2012 was to transfer more than $13 million from the Schools to the General Fund. Over the ten year period from 2003 to 2012 General Fund spending grew 30% faster than the total spending of our Schools.

Questions that need to be asked:

1. Why were 32% more people added to our school staff to educate the same number of students enrolled in 2005?

2. Was the 23% increase in school space over 2005 size needed? Should some schools be mothballed, until enrollment increases?

3. Why have the expenditures in the General Government portion of the General Fund increased at more than 6 times the rate of inflation, or 70%, since 2007?

4. Why is the Sheriff’s department allowed to spend $3 million more than the two counties closest to us in size?

5. Should our jail cost $2 million more than in Counties closest to our size in population.

6. Why is the County spending more than double what similar counties spend on Juvenile Detention? Redirecting some of this money to our Schools, may mean less Juvenile Detention is needed.

7. Does the Sheriff need to spend twice as much on vehicles as Counties with similar population sizes?

8. Why is Parks and Recreaction asking for $600,000 when they have more than $1 million in funds?

9. Why does the County give $45,000 to the private Heritage Center?

10. Why does Blount County spend double what other Counties similar in size spend on Industrial Development?  Have these Board members ever justified their expensives in terms of job creation?

11. Why does the Commission continue giving 70% of the hotel/motel tax to a facist Board comprised of 70% unelected private business owners?

This mess was created with weak Commissioners singing this song to government employees.

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