Commissioners To Meet Feb. 3 To Consider Bailey Lawsuit Settlement

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A Special Called Meeting of the Cannon County Commission is set for Friday, February 3, 2012 at 6:00 p.m. in the Courtroom of the Cannon County Courthouse.

Commissioners will consider a proposed settlement of a lawsuit against the county brought by Loretta Bailey.

Bailey worked as a receptionist at the Cannon County Sheriff’s Department under former Sheriff Billy Nichols. She was dismissed from the position when current Sheriff Darrell Young took office on Sept. 1, 2010.

She sued the county for $250,000 and Young individually for $150,000.

Cannon County Executive Mike Gannon said Friday that County Attorney Mike Corley and the attorney for the county’s insurance company, Woodbury Insurance Agency, have recommended the county and Sheriff Young settle the lawsuit for the amount of $45,000.

The county would pay $25,000 of that amount, with the insurance company paying $20,000.

“The lawyers said that if we agree to the settlement the suit will be dropped against both the county and Sheriff Young,” Gannon said.

Gannon said that while he and Sheriff Young have to agree to the settlement, the county commission must approve the expenditure of the $25,000.

In a special called meeting, the only topic that can be discussed is the subject of the special called meeting.

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January 27, 2012 at 6:13pm
Well here is another $25,000 worth of taxpayer money going to be well spent for no other reason than it is cheaper to settle than it was to do the right thing to begin with.

Meanwhile, back at the motel....we have county employees who have not had a raise in 5 years, no idea how to actually entice industry to our county, schools built in the 1950's with 150 students in them K-8 at a cost of roughly $5300 per student, a 12 cent increase in our property taxes this past year after 18 budget meetins, no zoning laws and a Partridge in a Pear Tree......
January 27, 2012 at 7:49pm
What is wrong here, i do not understand this. Is the law that we have here in Cannon County? My vote is noooo, if i have one.
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January 28, 2012 at 2:10am
Au contraire Corey, I have spoken with numerous people who have ideas on how to attract business to Cannon County. In a nutshell they involve spending a quarter to a half-million dollars on a spec building, and between $50,000 to $75,000 yearly on an industrial recruiter.

The conundrum is, if you don't make that type of investment, chances of landing new industry is greatly reduced. If you do, it may take years before it pays off.
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January 28, 2012 at 5:29am
Corey opines: "... no zoning laws"

While I am open to considering some form of zoning, that comment seems to imply that Cannon County has been or is behind the times with respect to zoning. In that just two of Cannon County's 14 peers in the Upper Cumberland Region have zoning, the case could be made we are among the group that has been ahead of the curve. Zoning puts restrictions on how property can be utilized. Sometimes those restrictions are good and necessary. However, there are also instances where they produce unintended consequences.
January 28, 2012 at 7:49am
What is the basis of the claim in this lawsuit? Aren't the employees at-will employees?
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January 28, 2012 at 8:15am
I have added a link to the article written when the lawsuit was filed at the end of this article.

To the best of my knowledge all workers in Tennessee are "at-will employees."

While I have not seen the settlement, I will assume it does not deal with the merits of Bailey's claims one way or the other. I will also assume the intention of settling is to avert what could turn out to be a long and costly court battle. Achieving an outcome is going to cost the county something, one way or the other.
January 28, 2012 at 8:45am
Is the county admiting some fault by settling?

If an elected offical of the county is sued, is the county liable or obligated to settle or aid in this personal suit against the individual?

If we were not at fault and we are settling for convinence and or savings of potential expences, are we not encouraging a hord of frivolous lawsuits? The planitiff would also incure expences and time lost so I would only settle if I believed the outcome would be unfavorable to me.
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January 28, 2012 at 10:26am
I was just venting a little Kevin up above.

Let me rephrase my earlier post.

There are several people with very good ideas on how to entice businesses. Unfortunatley very little has happened over the last several years from the leadership that could have done something that would help begin that process.

We can't blame everything on the economy because a lot could have been put in place long before we got to this point in our local economy and national economy. But, nothing was because of many different reasons.

And yes I would say we were behind the times when it concerns zoning laws. Two rock quarries prove that point without a doubt.

Could we have prevented them from coming, I doubt it. Could we have prevented them from locating five feet from the city limits or five feet from a extremely busy intersection. I think the answer to both of those questions is a definite yes had we had zoning laws in place PRIOR.

But, again it goes back to the lack of leadership and the unwillingness of those people to do something that needed to be done for years.

$25,000 would help build that building that you say we need to entice business here.

By the way, that thought and that idea was proposed to the commissioners at least 15 years ago. Guess what the answer was?
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January 28, 2012 at 11:57am
Bud, both the county and the elected official were sued. Not sure if efforts were made to have the county dropped as one of the parties. Gannon did tell me the county attorney was not necessarily in favor of settling, just wasn't opposed to doing so. I think the question comes down to which is the less expensive alternative, settling or fighting.

Corey, my point was that zoning is not going to put an end to the debate over what a person or business does with a certain piece of property and that, as the planner told the planning commission, “Zoning districts and standards should be justifiable and defensible. Zoning must be reasonable.”
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January 28, 2012 at 11:59am
Bud I think you hit the nail on the head.

I don't know of any lawyer worth his salt that would suggest we settle unless there was some kind of merit to the idea we were at fault or stood a big chance of losing a lot more than $45,000.
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January 28, 2012 at 12:09pm
Whenever there is a jury involved, you always stand a chance of losing.
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January 28, 2012 at 12:13pm
I agree with you Kevin it won't end the debate, but I have said it for years (prior to you coming here) that we needed zoning laws.

I don't want a law telling me what angle of roof I can put on a dog house in my yard, but common sense should have told a lot of the people who had the chance to enact zoning laws years ago that we were at danger of being in the position we are in today.

I am all for reasonable zoning laws that don't restrict a business from wanting to locate here. However, I think we need zoning laws that will prevent a rock quarry from operating literally 25 feet from the edge of the city limits in front of an established business and across the street from the Arts Center.

And I am still grieving over the thought that no one ever considered the idea of collecting taxes on every load of gravel going out of the place.

Perhaps I just expect the people who run our government to be aware of the obvious too much.
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January 28, 2012 at 12:36pm
As I said it the outset I am not opposed to some form of zoning, or land use plan, or whatever it is called.

As for the quarry across from the Arts Center, I don't know for sure, but I think the same party or parties at one time owned both properties. Not sure who owns either property now.

I do observe that the rock from that quarry is now going to build the four-lane coming into Woodbury. I also recall the state made improvements to Main Street last summer. I do wonder if it was done in anticipation of so many trucks traveling back and forth from the quarry to the four-lane. I also wonder if one day there will be a four-lane through Woodbury connecting with John Bragg Hwy. in the general vicinity of where the quarry is operating.
January 29, 2012 at 10:05am
This is certainly a thread of many angles considered in this post! To pick up on one of those threads,... the 4-lane will NEVER go "through" the town of Woodbury but will travel around it. Leaving Woodbury to become like many towns in the area by-passed by the main stream of travelers with great reduction to the traditional business sector now existing in the city. I don't want to use the word "ghost town" here as most likely businesses will relocate nearer the new highway in order to survive. This, however, will leave many more empty buildings to contend with in the city proper. The purpose of most 4-lane highways is to expedite travel "around them.". Not to impede it by sending it through the middle of towns as it does now. I thought the plan for the new 4-lane route had been decided already. If so, then it would appear more logical that Woodbury (and Cannon County) implement a growth plan to deal with the repercussions of re-routed travel, reduced business potential, lower tax revenues, and a higher number of empty buildings.
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January 29, 2012 at 12:16pm
The route has been decided. I don't recall the precise location but according to a TDOT official who spoke at the meeting at the Senior Center a few years ago it will be what he referred to as the "southern" route. The stretch that is being built now is the one from McMinnville coming into Woodbury. It will of course "bypass" downtown Woodbury. When it is built it will likely connect with John Bragg Hwy. somewhere in the vicinity of the current quarry across from the Arts Center. Yes some business will relocate or new ones will come in along the new highway. The downtown square will change a lot, as it has over the years, but will continue to be a center of activity as long as county and city government offices are there. There is also the likelihood Woodbury will grow to the south.
January 31, 2012 at 9:31am
Why not wait till Feb. 14 meeting of the co. comission? It would save all the cost.
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January 31, 2012 at 10:10am
The court wants a response by Feb. 6.
February 02, 2012 at 1:01am
“County Mineral Severance Tax (Private Act)
Several counties have enacted mineral severance taxes by private act. Private acts on this subject are
no longer authorized, but the private acts on this subject enacted prior to June 5, 1984, remain in
effect, except that the rate cannot exceed 15¢ per ton. T.C.A. §§ 67-7-209, 67-7-212. The minerals
subject to the tax are delineated in each county's private act, along with provisions regarding rate,
collection and distribution of the tax proceeds. Currently, the following counties have a mineral
severance tax levied by private act: Benton, Carroll, Carter, Decatur, Giles, Humphreys, Roane,
Rutherford, Unicoi, Weakley, White, and Williamson. Annual summaries of the status of these taxes
are provided in the CTAS publication entitled Tennessee County Tax Statistics. “


Corey-
Lobby the republicans to pass a law to allow counties to once again institute a mineral tax for the minerals removed from the county. The Republicans hold a majority and the governorship; they should have no trouble getting that done. You cannot blame the current county leaders for not enacting a private act that has been subverted by the state.

Zoning has nothing to do with that. Make the quarries pay for the rock they remove and that alone could add a bit of cash to the county.
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February 02, 2012 at 6:22am
Do we collect a mineral tax on the loads of gravel leaving Vulcan?

If so, how is that possible considering they were not in business prior to 1984?
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February 02, 2012 at 6:34am
todd I also have to ask why you bring the Republican Party into the equation considering the Democratic Party had to be the ones who removed the ability of each county to enact a mineral severance tax considering they have been in power in the State Legislature since reconstruction prior to 2010.

And you’re preaching to the choir because I said up above that I was still grieving because we weren't collecting the tax from the two new quarries to help the county get money.

Instead, the focus seems to be raising taxes on the poorest of our community by increasing our sales tax.

I also have to ask shouldn’t you be the one who lobbies our state government considering you are the elected official whose job it is to work for the people of Cannon County?

So if you really think about it I can blame my current county leaders if they aren't doing the very thing they are asking me to do.
February 02, 2012 at 6:55am
Thought Cannon County already had such a tax. Do they not collect some tax or fee from the rock hauled from Vulcan?
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February 02, 2012 at 7:56am
Vulcan pays a tax of 15 cents a ton. The money is collected by the state, is sent to the trustee's office, and then put in the highway department's budget.

The Wells Group which to the best of my knowledge is the current owner of the quarry across from the Arts Center did not sell rock. They charged a fee for loading it onto a vehicle.

Apparently the Jones company which is hauling rock from that quarry to where the new highway is being constructed has subleased a portion of the land there and, as a leasee, is not selling the rock to itself.

The new Stones River Quarry would be subjected to the same tax as Vulcan is it sells rock by the ton.
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February 02, 2012 at 2:32pm
Kevin is that a mineral tax that Vulcan pays? I was told it was, but I have never checked.

Again, I have to ask how is it possible Vulcan pays a mineral tax and yet todd is saying you had to be grandfathered in prior to 1984?
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February 02, 2012 at 3:01pm
I believe that is the tax Vulcan pays, but I did not ask which one it was, only if they paid any taxes on the rock they sell.
February 02, 2012 at 3:17pm
Corey-

I just brought the Republicans into the discussion because they are currently in power at the capital, nothing negative meant. I asked you to lobby them as well because you are a Republican. I hope you will! The big “Independent” behind my name does seem to make them a bit hesitant to bend over backwards to help. I’d not ask you to lobby for that change if I wasn’t willing to do it myself.

I am going to be talking to some of them at the state level, and seeing if they could try to get T.C.A. changed so that counties can increase the mineral tax. .15 cents is simply a pittance. We cannot replace those minerals ever. I do need to do more research on how much a ton of rock sales for . I wouldn’t want to raise it to high percentage wise, only a reasonable amount.

Personally, I believe we need to destroy the two party system, it is simply a hindrance to get things fixed. We need to vote for the candidates, not the (R) or (D). I hold both parties responsible for the current climate we are in nationally, state, and locally. But that is a whole different argument.
As to the sales tax, the commission cannot raise it. We only want the option to be on the ballot for the people to decide. I am not going to argue for or against it.

Todd Hollandsworth
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February 02, 2012 at 3:34pm
I will talk with Representative Pody tonight and see what he can do. I invite you to come talk with him as well. He will be at the courthouse at 7:00 pm.

You are more than welcome to explain how Vulcan pays a mineral tax and why the other two quarries don't. Something is not making sense with what you are saying about the 1984 loophole / grandfather clause.

I won't debate a two party system or the sales tax issue here. It is for another debate.

However, I will say if the commissioners only want the option for the sales tax to be on the ballot for the people to decide you might want to check because they have already decided NO once before.

How many times do you guys need an answer?
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February 02, 2012 at 3:51pm
"You are more than welcome to explain how Vulcan pays a mineral tax and why the other two quarries don't."

Because, as of yet, the other two quarries aren't selling any minerals to tax. If you think they are, then who do you think are the buyers?
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February 02, 2012 at 3:57pm
I don't know that they are. I haven't researched this enough to know exactly what qualifies as a mineral tax and what doesn't.

What minerals is Vulcan selling? I thought they were simply selling rock like the other two quarries.
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February 02, 2012 at 4:05pm
I bought a load of gravel last year from a guy for my driveway. He took his dump truck and drove over to the rock quarry in front of the Arts Center and had them fill it up with a load of gravel out of that pit and then brought it back to my driveway and spread it.

Does that not qualify as mineral? If not, then why not?

I was told by another County Commissioner (not Todd) that the same quarry was charging a haul fee for the gravel, but giving the gravel away free. That way they could get around the mineral tax.

I have no idea if that is true or not or even if it is a way to get around it, but I believe the commissioner who told me believed it because he was standing in front of the county lawyer when he said it.

Personally, I don't know so anyone who does can enlighten us all.
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February 02, 2012 at 4:08pm
"I was told by another County Commissioner (not Todd) that the same quarry was charging a haul fee for the gravel, but giving the gravel away free. That way they could get around the mineral tax."

That is basically what I was told, although it was called a "loading" fee.
February 03, 2012 at 12:10am
Thanks guys! Great discussion here. All this is obviously a matter that needs looking into and done so by our county commission so that everyone shares the same knowledge and understandings. If loopholes exist that are costing the county tax dollars, then they need to be closed. Cannon County is prime pickins for businesses who want to take advantage of our not being on top of things. Will not be the first time and most certainly will not be the last.
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February 03, 2012 at 2:51pm
I copied and pasted what todd wrote and gave it to Mark Pody last night. He said he would look into it in a couple of weeks and get back with me. When I find out something I will let ya'll know.

He asked me if the quarry (beside the Arts Center) had a contract with the state to provide the rock for the new four lane.

I did not know that information.

Does anyone else?
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