Pop Quiz – Who said the following: “I once heard Governor Winfield Dunn say ‘I like government handouts. I’d like for the government to keep its hand out of my pocket.’ We as commissioners can do no less for our folks here at home. The average family spends almost 50% of their income on some form of taxes. The U.S. Economic Council states that our gasoline will go up to $5 per gallon throwing us into an even greater recession. I was in the drugstore the other day, I was complaining about my high co-pays on medications, when the druggist was telling me how many of his elderly patients come in and take their medications only every other day because they cannot afford the high cost of drugs. I could go on and on. I could talk about foreclosures, short sales. I could talk about our children going to school hungry, the free-lunch enrollment increasing, families surrendering their pets at the shelter, which some of you think is not very important, but to a family that loves an animal, it is. These are symptoms of a very sick economy. I could go on and on but I think everybody gets the picture. I’d like to remind the commission that we all ran, and were elected, on a platform. I was privileged to help write that platform at the last convention. There are two planks of that platform that specifically states that we do not support increasing taxes or more government. We have talked the talk, each of us, now we must walk the walk. I urge each and every commissioner here: do not vote for a tax hike.” Ok, who said it? Think you know? Well, if you guessed Peggy “Defender of the Taxpayer” Lambert, you win!
Could it be that we have turned the corner on wasteful and out-of-control spending? Have the commissioners finally decided to represent the taxpayers instead of the tax takers? Will we now have grade “A” commissioners who uphold the libertarian value of fiscal responsibility? According to my Magic 8 Ball, “Outlook Not So Good”. I guess this is because just after the property tax increase passed (Folts, French, Gamble, Hasty, Kirby, Lambert, Murrell, Samples, and Wright voted “no”) 20 of the commissioners voted to give $18,064 of taxpayer money to a few non-profits (Farmer was absent). After that, 20 of the commissioners voted to spend $1,381.08/yr on a new copier lease for the next 5 years (Folts voted “no”). (For the record, the commission has spent $33,306.84/yr on copier leases to date.)
Not to mention the first items on the agenda which include increases of $450,000 for county liability insurance, $90,000 for the Highway Department’s liability insurance, $360,000 for school liability insurance (Murrell voted “no” on all), $75,000 to move portable classrooms at Heritage Middle School (Folts and Murrell voted “no”), and $1,800 for a sex offender registry fee (all voted “yes”).
And then, if raising our taxes wasn’t enough, they voted to form an Ad Hoc committee to study lost tax revenue (all voted “yes”) because, I guess, they don’t seem to think they’re getting enough tax revenue!! Are you angry yet?
When Commissioner Folts did a report comparing Blount County’s spending with other, similar counties, Commissioner Wright said, “…I think we should channel our efforts…and find some revenue to get the services that these people out here deserve. So as far as spending, I’m not worried about their spending…” I once heard someone say, “It’s the spending, stupid.” The Blount County Commission has never voted down a budget increase. Yet some of these commissioners think they can fool you into thinking they care by voting against a tax increase, even though they have voted for hundreds of thousands of dollars of spending! The other commissioners who did vote for the tax increase apparently just don’t care.
Here is the grading scale:
A – Participated in the discussion and voted to uphold the libertarian values of fiscal responsibility and/or personal liberty.
B – Did not participate, but voted to uphold libertarian values.
C – Participated in the discussion and voted against libertarian values.
F – Did not participate and voted against libertarian values
Here are the grades for June: Murrell: B; Folts, French, Gamble, Hasty, Kirby, Lambert, Samples, Wright: C; All others: F
For a breakdown of the grading scale, an explanation of the grades, and to keep track of your commissioner, go to http://www.blountcountylp.org/county-commission-grades.html