But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. Isaiah 40:31 King James Version (KJV)
County Revenue Commissioners
Thirteen commissioners voted against implementing a state transparency law governing county receipts. It was a sight to see commissioners Jerome Moon, Grady Caskey and Ron French fall all over themselves making excuses for why the county doesn’t need to follow a state law that allows for three citizens to inspect the county books and issue a report on their findings. Basically their arguments were that the law was outdated, that the information is already online and that we should have an Audit Committee.
Commissioner Moon’s feeble attempt at excusing the county from following the state law included reading a statement from the Comptroller’s Office which revealed that Blount County is one of only two counties in the state to not have an Audit Committee. The success of an Audit Committee will be dependent of the quality of the people serving on it. If the Commission puts the same people on the Budget Committee, the H.R. Committee or their friends on the Audit Committee to audit their results of their own rubber stamping and decisions, don’t expect much from any such Audit Committee.
The Comptroller’s Office wants the County Revenue Commissioners statute repealed and wants the county to go with an Audit Committee. A commissioner from another county shared her frustrations with me on how worthless she feels their Audit Committee is and how worthless the state Comptroller’s Office is in resolving audit findings and accounting problems in their county. She would know. Her husband is a CPA and a Certified Fraud Examiner. She has shared the numerous problems that she and her husband have experienced with transparency and accountability in their local government and getting the state to address the matters.
The County does have an annual audit, the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR), performed by the state Comptroller’s Office. The audit is useful information providing a snapshot of the county books at the end of the fiscal year but it is not a detailed audit of everything the county does.
We should have an Audit Committee. Hopefully it will do more than our non-functioning Purchasing Commission.
Commissioner Karen Miller was absent from the meeting. The rest were present.
The Commission approved a nominee to the Ocoee River Regional Library Board. This individual approved the Library Director sending out an email in support of the tax increase.
Even though the commission just passed a budget that includes a 16.7% property tax increase, there were several budget increases.
Circuit Court Clerk Tom Hatcher had a technology increase request. As usual he was not present to answer questions. I voted no on the request because I didn’t receive answers to my questions. It is amazing how little information the commission actually wants to know about voting to spend large sums of money. Only commissioners Akard and Monroe voted no. After the meeting, I received a call from a citizen telling me that Hatcher had time to eat dinner with several commissioners, after the Commission meeting.
The Schools received a huge increase in local revenue this budget year but were back for more with the new budget being only a few weeks old. The School Board had already approved spending the increase and wanted the commission to approve using fund balance. The School Board has failed to prioritize for a long time. Only commissioners Mike Akard and Tona Monroe voted no.
Attacks on commissioners Mike Akard and Tona Monroe
Since taking office, I have been attacked several times. In July commissioner Mike Akard was attacked by a fellow commissioner and then called out off the agenda. If you live in the Alcoa area know that commissioner Mike Akard is standing up for you, as I have been for the citizens of the Big Springs, Carpenters Elementary, Friendsville, Happy Valley and Lanier, as evidenced by the attacks occurring against us.
County residents don’t have a lot of options available for glass recycling. The reason is because it costs more to process and haul glass to companies willing to reuse it than they are paid for the product.
A company that manufacturers table tops using recycled glass is moving to Blount County. While this won’t use all of the glass available for recycling, it is exciting to see this manufacturer locating here.
State of county fiscal health
The Mayor assured us that great things are coming to Blount County. Today increases in the number of free and reduced lunches were reported. Ask your commissioner(s) why he felt it was a good idea to increase taxes in this economic environment.
Emergency Services Medical Board and Audit Committee