An Open Letter to Blount County Employees
There seems that a large number of Blount County Employees, particular Sheriff’s employees expressing frustration about the taxpaying citizens who are opposing the 22% increase in property taxes. Let’s acknowledge that emotions are flying high and that we need a rational dialogue to satisfy both our county government employees and the citizen taxpayers.
Politicians will say and promise anything to anyone to stay in power; and one of their favorite political pawns are their employees. This is especially true for our Mayor, County Commissioners, Circuit Court Clerk, Register of Deeds, Highway Superintendent and most notably our Sheriff. I want you to ask yourself honestly, “Is it possible that we are we being played by our bosses who are career politicians looking out for their own interests?”
Once the County Commission approves the budget for each department, department heads have “total control” of the spending within their departments. If you took the time to see how much your “bosses” waste the taxpayer’s money, you would be shocked and disgusted. The truth is that IF your elected officials really wanted to give you a raise, all they would have to do is stop wasting so much of the taxpayers’ money. Like magic, there is already enough money in your department budget to give you the cost of living increase in your salary.
No, your bosses would rather continue wasting hard earned tax dollars, and then chooses to use you, (his employees) as political pawns to justify burdening the taxpayer with a 22% property tax increase!
Your Department heads successfully work you up into a tizzy, getting you all upset at those citizens who are against a 22% property tax increase. Your bosses want you to equate citizens being against the property tax increase as the same thing as being “against county government employees.” And you fall for it every time; never realizing that it is your boss who is using your low pay to increase his wasteful budget.
Citizen activist Linda King has repeatedly been accused of “being against the county employees.” Don’t fall for that. You can watch her speak in favor of pay raises for the deputies.
Four years ago, Commissioner Jim Folts was the only Commissioner on the board who tried to get the other Commissioners to start properly setting aside sufficient funding the county employees promised retirement benefits. Commissioner Folts was attacked by those with the biggest salaries for trying to get the other 20 “promise anything” (commissioners / politicians) to stop wasting the county’s budget and start properly funding Blount Count’s long term retirement liability.
Sure the other 20 County Commissioners smugly sat up “pretending to care” about your retirement, but actions means more than the shallow promises of career politicians. In 10 or 20 years, when you are expecting to retire on your government pension, you shouldn’t be surprised that they did nothing to live up to the promises they were making to you, in order to get your support. The truth is, Commissioner Folts was the only true friend you had up there on the board fighting for your retirement. Your future is dependent upon more than your annual cost of living raises.
Four years later, your department heads are using you again. There are a some new commissioners like Mike Akard, Karen Miller and Tona Monroe who are trying to prepare for the County’s future (your retirement benefits) by controlling spending. Instead of blaming these fiscally responsible commissioners as being ‘against the county employees’, I ask you to rethink the situation.
The question is not whether or not you should get a pay raise. The real question is: “Is it fair to ask the citizen taxpayer to have to subsidize waste, fraud and abuse in your department heads budget, when your bosses have total discretion to streamline their budgets and give you a pay raise that ‘they say’ they want to give you?” Your bosses play you like Lucy plays Charlie Brown.
Let me ask you one last question. Do you think your bosses really care about you when they make 3-4 times what you do and gave themselves big pay raises last year while giving you nothing?
If you think they do care, consider the following: state law mandates that the Mayor Ed Mitchell be paid $93,732 but he is making $123,727. State law mandates that Circuit Court Clerk Tom Hatcher be paid $81,153 but he is making $89,269. State law mandates that the Sheriff be paid $89,269 but he is making $117,835.
The bottom line
Your bosses always make sure to take care of themselves and their cronies but all you ever hear them talk about are the crumbs that they give you. Don’t be Charlie Brown. You the employees and the citizens who pay your salaries deserve better.