At the special called County Commission meeting on Friday June 24, the all Republican Commission voted 13-7 to override the Mayor’s vetoes raising the property tax rate from $2.04 to $2.15 and overriding the fiscal year 2012 budget appropriations.
This comes as no surprise because I was told the vote would be 14-7 to override the Mayor’s vetoes. The vote was 13-7, because the Mayor’s attorney Craig Garrett gave his opinion after speaking with CTAS that Commissioner Brad Harrison had a conflict on the budget appropriations because he obtained his job at the Highway Department after becoming a Commissioner, and therefore, had to abstain. Mr. Garrett said that Commissioner Harrison could vote on the tax rate, but the Commission had refused to vote on each matter separately after Folts requested that the votes be taken separately. Folts did not receive a second on his call for the orders of the day.
Commissioners Gamble and Kirby flip flopped and voted to override the Mayor’s vetos leaving only Folts, French, Hasty, Lambert, Murrell, Samples and Wright voting no.
After the meeting was over, the Sheriff cleared the Citizens from the Commission meeting room, stating that he was closing the Courthouse, thereby preventing citizens from talking with their elected “representatives”.
Here are my comments to the Commission at this meeting on the budget and it’s cuts.
There has been a lot of talk about comparisons and why Blount Co. is unique and can’t be compared. I find these statements to be utterly ridiculous and without merit, but for sake of providing a true apples to apples comparison I’ll comply with the excuse makers and compare Blount County to none one other than itself. This is not only an apples to apples comparison. It’s a Macintosh to Macintosh comparison and not a Macintosh to Granny Smith comparison. Furthermore, I’ll not only compare the same type of apples, I’ll compare apples from the same tree. The only difference will be the harvest years and I’ll use data provided from the Blount Co. Finance Director and not Jim Folts and Citizens for Better Government or from some economist with a conflict of interest on the government dole.
The harvest years taken from the Blount Co. tree are fiscal years 2007 through 2012, and the information is on page 23 of your packet, showing General Co. Expenditure Trends. When you review those 6 years, comparing Blount Co. to only Blount Co. you quickly find that the cuts we’ve been lead to believe were made haven’t happened. There’s only one year in the last 6 when spending was more and that’s the 2011 fiscal year when the Commission voted to kick the can down the road, by robbing the rainy day fund so that it could get reelected with no tax increase in an election year. Comparing Blount Co. to Blount Co. you’re spending more than the Commission spent in fiscal years 2007, 2008, and 2010, and spending is roughly same in 2012, as in 2009. Even when you remove the $450K in general liability cost funded this year, you still see that Blount Co. general government this coming year will be spending more than it has 3 of the last 5 years. Comparing Blount Co. to Blount Co. budgets show this year to be tied as the 2nd most expensive year ever in general government spending.
Furthermore, the 2012 school budget is the most expensive in Blount Co. history. Also, there’s a significant amount of money being spent on debt service, and I highly doubt that many of you examine this area at all.
The only way that you can claim that this 2012 budget is a cut is by comparing it only to fiscal year 2011. When you compare it to all other years, the illusion of spending cuts quickly shatters. It’s time to look deeper and strive to be more efficient because an apples to apples comparison shows that lavish wasteful spending still continues in many departments. Tonight we the people will find out just how unique Blount Co. really is. Will you become the Co. that is unique at coming up with the most excuses for wasteful spending, or will you have the intestinal fortitude to cut the waste. We the people don’t buy your excuses and expect you to cut the waste.