Obamacare’s Best Allies: The Courts and the Republicans

By ruling for the government in the case of King v. Burwell, the Supreme Court once again tied itself into rhetorical and logical knots to defend Obamacare. In King, the court disregarded Obamacare’s clear language regarding eligibility for federal health care subsides, on the grounds that enforcing the statute as written would cause havoc in the marketplace. The court found that Congress could not have intended this result and that the court needed to uphold Congress’s mythical intention and ignore Obamacare’s actual language.

While Obamacare may be safe from court challenges, its future is far from assured. As Obamacare forces more Americans to pay higher insurance premiums while causing others to lose their insurance or lose access to the physicians of their choice, opposition to Obamacare will grow. Additional Americans will turn against Obamacare as their employers reduce their hours, along with their paychecks, because of Obamacare’s mandates.

As dissatisfaction with Obamacare grows, there will be renewed efforts to pass a single-payer health care system. Single-payer advocates will point to Obamacare’s corporatist features as being responsible for its failures and claim the only solution is to get the private sector completely out of health care.

Unfortunately, many Republicans will inadvertently aid the single-payer advocates by failing to acknowledge that Obamacare is not socialist but corporatist, and that that the pre-Obamacare health care system was hobbled by government intervention. In fact, popular support for Obamacare was rooted in the desire to address problems created by prior government interference in the health care marketplace.

Republicans also help the cause of socialized medicine by pretending that Obamacare can be fixed with minor reforms. These Republicans do not understand that replacing Obamacare with “Obamacare Lite” will still leave millions of Americans with inadequate access to quality health care, and could strengthen the movement for a single-payer system.

Republicans’ failure to advocate for a free-market health care system is not just rooted in intellectual error and political cowardice. The insurance industry, the pharmaceutical industry, and the other special interests that benefit from a large government role in health care are just as — or perhaps even more — influential in the Republican Party as in the Democratic Party. The influence of these interests is one reason why, despite their free-market rhetoric, Republicans have a long history of expanding the government’s role in health care.

Those who think a Republican president and Congress will enact free-market health care should consider that the last time Republicans controlled Congress and the White House their signature health care achievement was to expand federal health care spending and entitlements. Furthermore, Richard Nixon worked with Ted Kennedy to force all health care plans to offer a health maintenance organization (HMO). Even Obamacare’s individual mandate originated in a conservative think tank and was first signed into law by a Republican governor.

Instead of Obamacare Lite, Congress should support giving individuals direct control over their health care dollars through individual health care tax credits and expanded access to health savings accounts. Other reforms like long-term group insurance could ensure that those with “pre-existing conditions” have access to care. Another good reform is negative outcomes insurance that could help resolve the medical malpractice crisis.

America’s health care system is just as unsustainable as our foreign policy and our monetary system. At some point, the financial and human costs of Obamacare will prove overwhelming and Congress will be forced to replace this system. Hopefully, before this happens, a critical mass of people will convince Congress to replace Obamacare with a truly free-market health care system.

Read online: http://bit.ly/1HoYzls

Teacher shares how principals used teachers for big budget increase

The Sheriff and upper paid people in the Sheriff’s office use the deputies the same way the the principals use the teachers.   A teacher shares being used by her boss:

“I used to be a Blount County School teacher.  I remember when the education dept. was wanting more money to give the teachers a small raise (and give themselves a big raise–done by giving a percentage raise), the principals would call their teachers and ask if we wanted to help rally at the courthouse.  There were usually very nice, professionally made signs waiting for us to carry as we picketed outside and in the courthouse.  (I thought of this when I saw the professional looking signs carried by those wanting the raises for the sheriff’s dept.)  I finally got wise and quit going for these rallies because the education department was using us to get lots of money, and only giving teachers a small part of it to keep our salaries low so as to continue using us as leverage to get more money.”

Those who voted for the budget caused the tax increase

There is some discussion about seven commissioners voting no on the tax rate increase and one commissioner abstaining.  While the vote on the tax rate is certainly important, two of those commissioners voted for the budget which caused the tax increase.  Thus, their no vote and abstention on the tax rate vote is contradictory.

Under the state law, the commission is required annually to vote on two separate resolutions, the appropriations (budget) resolution and the property tax rate resolution.  If the commissioner voted for the budget requiring the tax increase, they were for the tax increase regardless of whether they had the courage to vote yes on the tax rate.  There is no way to pay for the budget that just passed the commission without a property tax increase.  Thus, a no vote or abstention vote on the tax rate but a yes vote on the budget has no credibility.  There were only six commissioner who voted no on both the budget and the tax rate.  The other fifteen commissioners caused the tax increase, even if two failed to take responsibility for their actions by voting yes on the huge property tax increase.

Tax Rate Vote:
Yes- Andy Allen, Shawn Carter, Rick Carver, Grady Caskey, Mike Caylor, Dodd Crowe, Gary Farmer, Ron French, Jeff Headrick, Mike Lewis, Kenneth Melton, Jerome Moon and Steve Samples
No- Mike Akard, Archie Archer, Brad Bowers, Tom Cole, Jamie Daly, Karen Miller and Tona Monroe
Abstain- Tom Stinnett

Compare that to the budget vote which required a tax increase to pay for, since no effort was made to balance the budget at current revenues.

Budget Appropriations Vote:
Yes- Andy Allen, Brad Bowers, Shawn Carter, Rick Carver, Grady Caskey, Mike Caylor, Dodd Crowe, Gary Farmer, Ron French, Jeff Headrick, Mike Lewis, Kenneth Melton, Jermone Moon, Steve Samples and Tom Stinnett
No- Mike Akard, Archie Archer, Tom Cole, Jamie Daly, Karen Miller and Tona Monroe

Commissioner Brad Bowers’s no vote on the tax rate resolution and Tom Stinnett’s abstention vote on the tax rate resolution contradict their votes for the budget.  These two caused the tax increase with their votes for the budget that used the tax increase to fund it.  Don’t let them tell you any differently.

This is an age old tactic that some commissioners have played in the past voting for the budget that required a tax increase to fund it while voting no on the tax rate so that they can tell their constituents that they didn’t vote for a tax increase.  It’s political doublespeak.

It would be better for both resolutions to be voted on at once so that politicians can quit playing this game with their constituents.

LOCK OUT from Commission Room

Email just received
Hey Tona,
All of your information has been very helpful, also inspiring. Keep up the good work. Danny Garner ran me out. I had been sitting in the meeting room since 2 this afternoon, and at about 2:45 Danny came in with a memo to lock the doors with the explicit instructions to not open them up until 6 PM. Your in for a fight tonight and I know you are up to the task.
Note: Danny is also known as Denny.

Lets be Blount: your taxpayer money is being wasted

People are asking where we can cut the budget.  The story in todays paper about the Smoky Mountain Tourism Development Authority (SMTDA) is a great example of waste.

The SMTDA is spending taxpayer money, that it received from the hotel/motel tax, for a slogan.  The Lets be Blount slogan is waste just like the recent Tennessee logo.  In less than 10 seconds, I came up with a headline for this post.  Let’s be Blount: your taxpayer money is being wasted.

Taxpayer money shouldn’t be wasted on these types of projects.

Citizens tried to stop the commission from creating a bureaucracy where there would be no accountability to the commission other than to abolish the authority.  Our pleas fell on deaf ears.

The commission was sold on the idea by being told that creating the authority would take a million dollars of debt off the county books by transferring it to the SMTDA.  I remember Commissioner Gordon Wright telling me that.  According to the paper the debt was actually $1.3 million.  Think about the insanity of that reason for a moment.  The projected budget, funded by the hotel/motel tax, is around $1.5 million.  With that budget, the $1.3 million could have been paid off in one year and still have money left over.

The Heritage Center gets to double dip by getting money directly from the county and indirectly from the hotel/motel tax given to the SMTDA.  It wasn’t that long ago that the SMTDA talked about training gas station attendants with tourism related matters.  More waste.

As a kid I can remember watching government funded ads on tv promoting tourism.  I have never visited any place because of some cheesy ad or slogan promoted by the government.

Let the free market work.  Business people are smart enough to promote their businesses without the government doing it for them.

How to double dip and get people who make much less than you to clap for you

The June Agenda Committee meeting showed that there is very much a good ole’ boy network in Blount County and that the authority of the commission means little to them.

The commission is being asked to approve funding for energy efficient renovations partially paid for by a TDEC grant and the rest being paid for with local tax dollars.  There was no grant worksheet included with the request in the Budget Committee packet (see pages 25-40) or the Agenda Committee packet (Item G3b pages 102-117).  After pointing this out at the Agenda Committee meeting, lo and behold the grant worksheet appeared the Commission meeting packet (see page 49).

Notice that the grant worksheet says that the application deadline is January 30, 2015.  Page 51 shows an invoice of $3,000 for a contract fee and page 52 says it’s for a Program Grant Application.  There is no date on the grant worksheet showing when the form was completed.  How convenient.

This grant isn’t the only grant request that the commission is being asked to approve after the deadline has passed.  Item F3a (page 48), a SWAT team/unit grant, shows a deadline of May 13, 2015.

Procedure 2 of the county’s grant policies says:

After the Grant Worksheet has been reviewed, it will be forwarded to the Budget Committee. If the grant will require any type of county funding after it is awarded or in the future, it will go to the Budget Committee for approval. If it does not require any county funding, it will go to the Budget Committee as information only.

Procedure 5 of the county’s grant policies says:

Once the grant worksheet has been approved, the department can apply for the grant. In some situations, there may be a need for approval of the grant application before the Budget Committee meets. In these cases, the Finance Director and/or Mayor may approve the application and the Budget Committee will be notified at the next meeting.

The commission was not asked to approve the grant worksheet in January or February.  If the Finance Director and/or Mayor approved the application, they failed to notify the Budget Committee at its next meeting.  The lack of respect for the commission is glaring.

The situation gets even worse.  Denny Garner, the Facilities Coordinator for the Blount County Maintenance Department, told the commission that the grant originated out of his department.  Look on pages 52, 54 and 55 and you will see that Denny Garner wears two hats in Blount County government.  Denny Garner is also the fleet manager in the Sheriff’s Office.  Garner started in his role of Facilities Coordinator last year when the previous coordinator retired.

A look at the payroll shows Garner’s salary as Fleet Manger to be $38,035.  He received a $1,000 bonus last year and $6,253.58 in overtime last year.  His annual salary as Facilities Coordinator is also $38,035.  If Garner gets the same amount of overtime as last year, he will make over $80,000 wearing two hats in Blount County government.

Being a crony who can double dip the taxpayers obviously pays well.  Throw in a race track and he could triple dip.

At the end of the meeting, Director of General Services Don Stallions defended Garner’s double dipping by saying that he was doing a good job and that he is making less than the previous Facilities Coordinator.  The county employees clapped for Stallions.

Here’s what the employees should consider before clapping for a man who hasn’t exactly been the taxpayers best friend.

1) Do you think it’s fair that someone managing the Sheriff’s fleet should make a base salary that is over $9,000 more than the base salary for starting patrol officers and over $10,000 more than the base salary for correctional officers?

2) Did you get $6,253.58 in overtime last year?

3) If the county can pay the current Facilities Coordinator less than the previous one, were we over paying the last one?

4) Gary Farmer makes $66,783 to perform similar duties for the Blount County Schools.  Is he being overpaid?  Do you think it’s fair for him to make 2.3 times more than a starting patrol officer and 2.4 times what a correctional officer is making?

5) Denny Garner is on track, if he gets the same amount of overtime pay, to make nearly 3 times the current base salary of a correctional officer.

6) Don Stallions was the HR Director when the county health care fund began losing vast sums of money yet he says he didn’t know about it.  His salary last year to lead the health care fund into quick sand was $67,000.  Like Farmer, he made 2.3 times patrol officers and 2.4 times correctional officers.

Instead of clapping for someone who may make nearly triple what you currently make and being upset at the person who questions why this is happening, you may want to ask your boss why their cronies make so much than you do.  It certainly isn’t merit based.

Also see this.

Blount County 8th in total debt & 11th highest per capita debt among Tennessee counties

Debt Per Capita

County FY 2014 FY 2013 FY 2012 FY 2011 FY 2010
Anderson $794 $694 $732 $535 $548
Bedford $1,265 $1,364 $1,479 $1,600 $1,716
Benton $608 $659 $699 $748 $813
Bledsoe $1,648 $1,711 $1,462 $1,475 $1,483
Blount $1,675 $1,732 $1,793 $1,846 $1,757
Bradley $701 $744 $755 $791 $824
Campbell $1,265 $1,318 $1,324 $1,261 $856
Cannon $641 $732 $750 $821 $862
Carroll $325 $336 $352 $61 $66
Carter $464 $507 $547 $586 $624
Cheatham $568 $650 $720 $776 $677
Chester $600 $654 $706 $741 $765
Claiborne $1,374 $1,598 $1,698 $1,763 $1,827
Clay $799 $870 $905 $865 $886
Cocke $906 $987 $1,054 $1,041 $931
Coffee $1,500 $1,088 $688 $645 $609
Crockett $1,083 $1,174 $1,216 $1,155 $1,202
Cumberland $1,064 $1,115 $1,183 $1,250 $1,190
Davidson $8,247 $8,306 $7,127 $7,051 $6,638
Decatur $924 $1,043 $1,166 $1,280 $1,390
DeKalb $670 $574 $443 $491 $538
Dickson $1,264 $1,406 $1,442 $1,520 $1,631
Dyer $1,156 $1,221 $1,288 $1,359 $1,239
Fayette $883 $664 $577 $594 $625
Fentress $403 $505 $452 $526 $554
Franklin $604 $711 $803 $903 $957
Gibson $307 $327 $307 $318 $328
Giles $113 $133 $462 $478 $444
Grainger $1,191 $1,133 $1,123 $1,187 $1,258
Greene $499 $531 $568 $596 $492
Grundy $699 $660 $663 $620 $667
Hamblen $654 $632 $690 $750 $781
Hamilton $765 $830 $749 $611 $719
Hancock $1,965 $2,112 $2,227 $2,381 $2,494
Hardeman $269 $289 $198 $207 $224
Hardin $1,807 $1,891 $1,962 $1,942 $1,973
Hawkins $1,467 $1,477 $1,506 $1,514 $1,493
Haywood $1,006 $1,053 $1,033 $956 $989
Henderson $1,127 $1,047 $1,129 $1,165 $1,205
Henry $518 $573 $631 $671 $696
Hickman $1,343 $1,351 $1,321 $1,442 $1,443
Houston $1,968 $1,865 $1,290 $1,375 $1,358
Humphreys $182 $228 $273 $317 $360
Jackson $990 $1,052 $1,121 $1,157 $1,060
Jefferson $1,602 $1,667 $1,346 $1,356 $919
Johnson $675 $707 $745 $778 $796
Knox $1,561 $1,513 $1,571 $1,610 $1,585
Lake $1,424 $1,472 $1,517 $1,319 $1,351
Lauderdale $446 $507 $586 $649 $628
Lawrence $967 $1,064 $1,106 $1,201 $1,304
Lewis $56 $61 $75 $88 $125
Lincoln $549 $382 $417 $450 $468
Loudon $1,208 $1,276 $664 $520 $662
Macon $537 $587 $663 $631 $698
Madison $503 $574 $620 $667 $717
Marion $1,322 $1,399 $1,460 $1,531 $1,602
Marshall $1,510 $1,410 $1,361 $1,410 $1,496
Maury $668 $746 $638 $903 $980
McMinn N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
McNairy $317 $280 $334 $379 $477
Meigs $202 $253 $322 $392 $465
Monroe $1,322 $1,372 $1,430 $1,205 $1,252
Montgomery $1,922 $1,988 $2,038 $1,807 $1,885
Moore $1,490 $1,623 $1,723 $1,784 $1,842
Morgan $937 $996 $1,038 $1,090 $1,118
Obion $459 $477 $506 $551 $585
Overton $845 $899 $969 $839 $897
Perry $507 $685 $788 $879 $980
Pickett $1,029 $1,088 $1,196 $1,182 $1,183
Polk $936 $1,004 $1,069 $1,144 $1,173
Putnam $2,230 $2,309 $1,764 $1,858 $1,851
Rhea $1,368 $1,413 $1,453 $441 $437
Roane $875 $926 $952 $972 $1,022
Robertson $2,243 $2,035 $2,199 $2,344 $2,498
Rutherford $1,357 $1,363 $1,454 $1,360 $1,470
Scott $1,604 $1,666 $1,750 $1,855 $1,956
Sequatchie $362 $421 $673 $918 $1,012
Sevier $1,385 $1,384 $1,411 $1,350 $1,252
Shelby $1,454 $1,579 $1,704 $1,846 $2,053
Smith $1,555 $1,554 $1,658 $1,701 $1,740
Stewart $2,082 $2,181 $1,684 $1,794 $1,919
Sullivan $356 $383 $403 $410 $403
Sumner $787 $852 $717 $799 $856
Tipton $429 $494 $532 $578 $648
Trousdale $955 $1,070 $1,165 $1,288 $1,067
Unicoi $1,451 $1,468 $1,544 $1,609 $1,673
Union $608 $681 $783 $833 $838
Van Buren $425 $466 $474 $246 $200
Warren $484 $527 $606 $697 $505
Washington $1,305 $1,244 $1,247 $1,272 $1,329
Wayne $1,528 $1,568 $1,596 $1,686 $1,774
Weakley $314 $398 $567 $608 $723
White $322 $376 $428 $487 $553
Williamson $2,546 $2,406 $2,539 $2,654 $2,571
Wilson $1,774 $1,880 $1,370 $1,443 $1,554

Source: http://www.comptroller.tn.gov/TAG/CountyMatrix.aspx?RevExp=P

Debt

 

County FY 2014 FY 2013 FY 2012 FY 2011 FY 2010
Anderson $59,674,933 $52,111,632 $55,005,647 $40,188,243 $41,162,379
Bedford $56,992,000 $61,467,600 $66,634,200 $72,084,498 $77,297,163
Benton $10,018,125 $10,859,883 $11,533,816 $12,326,888 $13,405,600
Bledsoe $21,222,881 $22,035,313 $18,828,973 $18,992,991 $19,095,465
Blount $206,042,642 $213,084,928 $220,563,923 $227,030,706 $216,144,676
Bradley $69,398,278 $73,664,265 $74,763,411 $78,280,432 $81,506,740
Campbell $51,487,386 $53,662,761 $53,913,136 $51,330,000 $34,844,167
Cannon $8,848,023 $10,107,485 $10,351,974 $11,325,500 $11,901,326
Carroll $9,268,000 $9,596,000 $10,027,130 $1,745,753 $1,876,551
Carter $26,657,517 $29,095,977 $31,429,962 $33,667,467 $35,828,143
Cheatham $22,207,604 $25,411,212 $28,138,595 $30,353,380 $26,461,739
Chester $10,279,667 $11,209,424 $12,091,443 $12,700,082 $13,099,043
Claiborne $44,271,307 $51,489,962 $54,698,611 $56,789,738 $58,860,234
Clay $6,278,587 $6,835,435 $7,112,367 $6,801,197 $6,968,256
Cocke $32,319,253 $35,212,904 $37,586,719 $37,135,134 $33,198,534
Coffee $79,215,187 $57,448,923 $36,304,700 $34,032,386 $32,155,419
Crockett $15,803,006 $17,129,326 $17,730,395 $16,845,517 $17,531,359
Cumberland $59,645,932 $62,489,641 $66,310,078 $70,075,199 $66,682,212
Davidson $5,168,138,794 $5,204,964,873 $4,466,167,344 $4,418,788,602 $4,160,132,207
Decatur $10,867,936 $12,259,493 $13,705,867 $15,047,668 $16,343,941
DeKalb $12,538,343 $10,747,514 $8,291,685 $9,200,856 $10,080,027
Dickson $62,768,050 $69,818,796 $71,618,323 $75,479,916 $81,025,459
Dyer $44,318,834 $46,810,152 $49,391,082 $52,114,595 $47,481,416
Fayette $33,906,607 $25,521,150 $22,179,187 $22,832,642 $24,025,257
Fentress $7,230,939 $9,073,030 $8,118,174 $9,439,339 $9,940,590
Franklin $24,806,450 $29,208,072 $32,955,998 $37,058,827 $39,269,803
Gibson $15,275,000 $16,250,000 $15,245,000 $15,780,000 $16,296,666
Giles $3,344,056 $3,919,828 $13,617,480 $14,079,692 $13,090,000
Grainger $26,995,000 $25,668,000 $25,436,985 $26,887,277 $28,497,396
Greene $34,367,119 $36,573,997 $39,079,823 $41,033,044 $33,873,941
Grundy $9,575,894 $9,048,189 $9,090,872 $8,497,713 $9,134,805
Hamblen $40,931,893 $39,500,747 $43,129,601 $46,898,455 $48,835,000
Hamilton $257,256,479 $279,383,300 $252,097,493 $205,607,662 $241,884,200
Hancock $13,397,282 $14,402,007 $15,186,483 $16,233,596 $17,009,522
Hardeman $7,319,714 $7,874,642 $5,391,866 $5,635,217 $6,110,831
Hardin $47,032,037 $49,205,522 $51,059,204 $50,534,413 $51,341,423
Hawkins $83,392,380 $83,928,572 $85,616,148 $86,027,376 $84,858,105
Haywood $18,905,943 $19,786,829 $19,404,508 $17,956,375 $18,588,783
Henderson $31,290,826 $29,066,394 $31,350,424 $32,337,483 $33,452,478
Henry $16,759,290 $18,529,243 $20,398,933 $21,678,193 $22,507,990
Hickman $33,150,361 $33,344,911 $32,627,455 $35,591,999 $35,639,543
Houston $16,582,468 $15,714,956 $10,866,034 $11,585,360 $11,442,057
Humphreys $3,369,600 $4,228,300 $5,061,700 $5,874,233 $6,668,133
Jackson $11,520,012 $12,240,086 $13,046,325 $13,465,414 $12,331,902
Jefferson $82,343,606 $85,676,845 $69,215,476 $69,710,000 $47,261,847
Johnson $12,315,720 $12,893,605 $13,584,715 $14,200,133 $14,515,000
Knox $674,849,333 $653,774,967 $679,172,454 $696,096,904 $684,969,392
Lake $11,151,000 $11,531,000 $11,878,589 $10,331,508 $10,578,900
Lauderdale $12,393,359 $14,100,565 $16,285,981 $18,049,901 $17,457,733
Lawrence $40,500,239 $44,535,070 $46,299,755 $50,301,421 $54,606,091
Lewis $679,667 $745,000 $915,000 $1,075,000 $1,517,620
Lincoln $18,323,000 $12,739,000 $13,913,000 $15,006,000 $15,625,000
Loudon $58,668,035 $61,968,622 $32,257,826 $25,244,467 $32,151,636
Macon $11,945,953 $13,057,790 $14,760,887 $14,046,394 $15,534,422
Madison $49,420,000 $56,375,000 $60,900,000 $65,590,948 $70,496,416
Marion $37,327,029 $39,499,844 $41,213,893 $43,222,305 $45,221,667
Marshall $46,231,211 $43,167,757 $41,659,107 $43,183,748 $45,805,872
Maury $54,108,686 $60,398,372 $51,645,011 $73,130,906 $79,310,527
McMinn N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
McNairy $8,254,431 $7,295,569 $8,712,159 $9,892,547 $12,445,699
Meigs $2,376,470 $2,973,907 $3,781,078 $4,604,744 $5,462,644
Monroe $58,845,894 $61,100,208 $63,647,830 $53,660,694 $55,724,303
Montgomery $331,166,266 $342,668,496 $351,187,285 $311,418,255 $324,861,202
Moore $9,478,944 $10,327,682 $10,964,277 $11,351,724 $11,720,409
Morgan $20,605,066 $21,904,648 $22,815,482 $23,973,988 $24,592,429
Obion $14,602,796 $15,183,452 $16,090,666 $17,540,334 $18,593,001
Overton $18,654,392 $19,858,722 $21,390,577 $18,529,826 $19,812,060
Perry $4,012,405 $5,421,120 $6,240,355 $6,958,651 $7,758,196
Pickett $5,226,421 $5,521,674 $6,071,787 $5,998,639 $6,003,567
Polk $15,744,366 $16,887,680 $17,988,124 $19,244,383 $19,740,378
Putnam $161,265,000 $166,965,000 $127,605,841 $134,350,000 $133,888,730
Rhea $43,525,950 $44,945,541 $46,207,323 $14,013,975 $13,909,876
Roane $47,426,419 $50,170,987 $51,605,054 $52,681,501 $55,347,724
Robertson $148,700,243 $134,916,171 $145,745,359 $155,356,651 $165,574,134
Rutherford $356,302,259 $357,861,951 $381,812,178 $357,065,781 $385,979,284
Scott $35,659,186 $37,032,464 $38,907,905 $41,223,363 $43,486,880
Sequatchie $5,110,105 $5,940,001 $9,499,667 $12,957,810 $14,281,010
Sevier $124,536,652 $124,437,808 $126,827,967 $121,390,807 $112,526,906
Shelby $1,349,107,912 $1,464,607,633 $1,580,540,874 $1,712,263,377 $1,904,601,588
Smith $29,812,195 $29,775,830 $31,777,613 $32,610,363 $33,349,335
Stewart $27,735,239 $29,058,378 $22,434,393 $23,902,754 $25,562,364
Sullivan $55,854,206 $60,093,600 $63,225,000 $64,279,065 $63,276,923
Sumner $126,480,304 $136,886,285 $115,261,837 $128,288,706 $137,500,000
Tipton $26,220,189 $30,161,489 $32,480,239 $35,298,894 $39,569,852
Trousdale $7,512,099 $8,416,975 $9,170,066 $10,135,053 $8,401,052
Unicoi $26,575,415 $26,891,355 $28,269,270 $29,467,556 $30,643,808
Union $11,614,438 $13,004,143 $14,953,130 $15,911,421 $16,020,416
Van Buren $2,356,981 $2,584,771 $2,627,030 $1,367,110 $1,108,112
Warren $19,274,657 $20,987,773 $24,126,502 $27,778,938 $20,101,790
Washington $160,513,835 $152,960,302 $153,299,864 $156,473,577 $163,390,484
Wayne $26,005,491 $26,694,388 $27,165,601 $28,700,636 $30,187,853
Weakley $11,013,859 $13,939,811 $19,865,537 $21,303,018 $25,308,171
White $8,328,988 $9,708,812 $11,058,636 $12,573,460 $14,281,618
Williamson $466,400,000 $440,805,000 $465,184,000 $486,187,000 $470,934,000
Wilson $202,229,863 $214,322,750 $156,192,520 $164,527,757 $177,181,904

Source: http://www.comptroller.tn.gov/TAG/CountyMatrix.aspx?RevExp=D

Unfinished Evergreen study pay raises not based on merit

Tona,

I apologize for the delay.  I requested this information directly from Evergreen.  Responses are listed below in red.  Please let me know if you have any additional questions.

Thank you,

Jenny Morgan
Human Resources Director
Blount County Government

 

Hey Jenny,

What does page 19 of the pdf that you sent mean when it says parity option? Is that the tenure plan of 25 years, that will have 25 steps/incremental pay increases? No, this is simply a method of placing these (sworn deputies) current employees’ salaries into the structure based on years with the County.  The number of years (25) was utilized as an approximate, average career length of employees.   Are you aware of any other agency that had this many steps to it’s pay structure? This is a method of implementation, and is not associated with/based on a step plan. 

For move to market employees, that doesn’t seem to give much flexibility.  The orange block indicates that the each employee will be brought to a specific percentage rather than having the flexibility to give more to good employees and less to underperforming employees.  Am I reading that correctly?  Yes, Evergreen Solutions does not recommend any method of implementation that is based on performance. An equitable method cannot be calculated using this factor as the County does not have performance evaluation ratings for all employees for a period of years. We do not recommend making (any) study related pay adjustments based on performance.  Going forward, as a method of pay progression, if the County adopts the developed compensation philosophy which associates performance with pay adjustments, it will have the flexibility to adjust individual salaries based on this factor.

Is there flexibility in the move to market that isn’t fixed to those percentages?  The percentages are calculated based on salary position relative to the midpoint. The amount of adjustment based on the position of the salary could be altered, though we do not recommend this as it would not change the cost significantly.   Also, can you send me the stats of what it would cost to just give pay raises to people making less than $35,000?  I’d like to see those numbers in move to minimum and the move to market numbers.  For those employees currently making less than $35,000, the approximate, annualized salary cost to bring those employee salaries to the new minimums would be $915,881, and the approximate, annualized salary cost for these employees in the move to market option would be $1,343,101.

Thanks,
Tona

The commission has discretion in pay of some office holders

Myth Buster 2

Assertion by the political machine: The State sets office holders salaries

Fact: This is partially true.  The state does set minimum salaries for office holders.  You can view those salaries here.  However, state law allows the commission to increase the salaries of some elected officials.

The Circuit Court Clerk can be given a 10% pay increase above the state minimum.  Tom Hatcher made a pay increase request for the current budget year and was given the increase.  Under state law, the Highway Superintendent, Sheriff and Mayor automatically get a pay increase when the Circuit Court Clerk is given the increase.  Read the notes for more details.

The Sheriff may be given additional compensation for serving as workhouse superintendent, which the Sheriff has been receiving for several years.  This means that Mayor will also get more because the Sheriff gets more, per state law.

Office Holder State Minimum Current Pay
Circuit Court Clerk Tom Hatcher $81,153 $89,269
Highway Superintendent Bill Dunlap $89,269 $98,197
Sheriff James Berrong $89,269 $117,835
Mayor Ed Mitchell $93,732 $123,727

The Mayor is making nearly $30,000 more than the state minimum.  The Sheriff is making $28,566 more than the state minimum.  We keep hearing about deputies making around $28,600 and correctional officers making around $27,600.  It’s interesting the Sheriff’s pay above the state minimum is around the cost of pay for a deputy.  The Sheriff could forego the additional pay and hire a new deputy or give 28 deputies a $1,000 pay raise with the amount that he is getting above the statement minimum, while still making about 3 times what his deputies and correctional officers are making.

The cost to the taxpayers above the state minimum is $75,605 for these salary supplements.  The commission can and should cut these salaries to the state minimum.  The officers will still make far more than most of their employees and the citizen taxpayers.

Capital Fund should be put back into school budget

Sharing Education Capital Project Funds:
A Lesson from McMinn County

In 2011, the cities of Athens and Etowah sued McMinn County because the county had put money into an education capital projects fund and used those funds for renovations and additions to county schools, and the cities believed that those funds should have been shared with their school systems. McMinn County responded that they were not obligated to share these capital project funds with the city. The trial court agreed and entered judgment for the county.

The trial court stated, “When a county makes a tax assessment for future capital outlay projects, such an assessment is not subject to proration among all LEAs in the county.” The trial court found that the relevant statute is clear and unambiguous — it requires sharing only of funds for current operation and maintenance purposes, and funds collected for future capital projects are not for current operation and maintenance.

Predictably, the cities appealed. In December 2014, the Tennessee Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s decision for the county. The cities attempted a further appeal to the Tennessee Supreme Court, but that Court declined to hear the case in May 2015. There can be no other appeals. The trial court’s decision is now final.

Under this case, counties in which there are multiple school systems may make appropriations to an education capital projects fund and expend that money for school capital projects without being required to share those funds with any city or special school districts in the county. These funds can only be used for capital projects.

This case only affects money appropriated and set aside for capital expenditures for education. Any money used for current operation or maintenance purposes, as well as funds borrowed for education capital expenditures, must be shared with the other school systems in the county.

To read the case, please click HERE to view a PDF.

Source: CTAS Newsletter

 

Citizen pens open letter to county employees

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.

Richard Hutchens