“If we can but prevent the government from wasting the labours of the people, under the pretence of taking care of them, they must become happy.” Over 200 years ago, Thomas Jefferson wrote this statement in a letter, and it is as relevant today as it was then. If you wish to avoid the misery of another property tax increase next year, higher than this year, then it would behoove you to protect the fruits of your labor, by demanding spending cuts in the wasteful departments of Blount County government.
There was limited talk of budget cuts earlier this year and we were told that any further cuts would leave people without services, although I’ve yet to be told what services I get that justify the taxes I pay. When you compare this year’s County budget to the past 5 years (see pages 15-36), the illusion of spending cuts quickly shatters.
General Government spending was more last year (2011 fiscal year) when the Commission voted to kick the spending crisis can down the road, by robbing the rainy day fund so that it could get reelected with no tax increase in an election year. However, General County spending this year (fiscal 2012) is more than 2007, 2008, and 2010, and spending is roughly same as in 2009. The only way that one can claim that this year’s general County budget was cut is by comparing this year to last years bloated budget which is a very poor standard for comparison because it robbed the rainy day fund to avoid a tax increase.
The 2012 school budget is the most expensive in Blount Co. history. Another school was opened this year, despite many saying it wasn’t needed and construction beginning before the Commission gave its approval. The school budget is a whopping $78.3 million and about 55.7% of the entire County budget.
Debt Service has increased steadily since 2007 and is more expensive than ever. Schools and debt service have grown so large that they make this budget year the most expensive ever. Blount County government is spending 12% more this year than it spent in 2007.
The Chairman of the School Board, John Paul Davis, recently died. The School Board named it’s meeting room after him, the County Commission honored him at the August Commission meeting with a proclamation and The Daily Times wrote an editorial about what a respected leader he was to the community. What all have left out is that he died leaving $225 million, excluding interest, in debt to his kids and grandkids. It’s shameful that he would leave this debt to future generations and not pay for these unneeded schools during his lifetime. It’s likely that many of our current County Commissioners will die before the debt they created is paid for, leaving their children and grandchildren to bear this monstrous financial burden. It’s time to stop this generational curse of wasteful spending being passed to future generations and for real leaders to rise up and walk in righteousness, not lavish lifestyles on the backs of future generations. A true righteous leader would not leave future generations with the burden of enormous debt.
In 1984 the food chain Wendy’s ran ad with the catch phrase, “Where’s the beef?” aptly pointing out that there’s more to a burger than a bun. Blount County government is not taking care of me, yet it tells me that it needs more of my money to continue delivering services that I don’t get or use. I’d like to know, where are the services that justify the biggest budget in Blount County history, and where are the spending cuts? It’s time to shrink the bun, so we can see the beef and stop wasting the fruits of our labor.