County Executive Nixes Two Taxes

Cannon County Executive Mike Gannon has issued his first vetoes in his 10 years in office.

Gannon vetoed legislation passed by the Cannon County Commission in May increasing the county's Litigation Tax and one which enacted an Archive fee.

The County Commission passed both resolutions unanimously, and will have the opportunity to override Gannon's vetoes when it meets on June 12.

The Litigation Tax increase was passed by the County Commission to cover the cost of the raise in salary for the county's General Sessions Judge. Gannon said he decided to veto it because "a fee is a code word for tax."

Gannon went on to say revenues from General Sessions Court have decreased this year, and he thinks the Litigation Tax increase is one of the reasons.

"I did some research and what may look good on the front end is costly us a lot more on the back end," Gannon said. "Many businesses and people have told me they have stopped suing people for relatively small amounts of money because the cost of taking them to court is so high."

Gannon said he thinks the increase is court costs are also creating additional costs at the Cannon County Jail.

"What is happening is people in jail are doing what is called 'flattening' their sentences and staying in there longer, which means we are getting less revenue from fines and fees being paid because if they stay in jail they don't have to pay anything," Gannon said.

With respect to the Archive fee, Gannon said he vetoed that after he received feedback from other elected county officials.

"It is still an additional tax and they think people are already paying enough for that (service), and that the increase will cause less businesses and people to file important documents with their offices."

The purpose of the Archive fees imposed by the County Commission is to raise money to pay for additional storage space for records county offices must maintain.

"I think the need for additional room for storage has been somewhat exaggerated," Gannon said. "Plus, I think there are possible solutions to that problem which wouldn't involve an additional burden on the taxpayers."

Gannon said these were his first vetoes because previously he also served as chairman of the commission and if there was an issue he had a vote to break a tie.

After he was asked by The Cannon Courier why he vetoed the aforementioned legislation, Gannon also addressed another item on the agenda for the July 12 commission meeting, which is "a motion to require that the county attorney reside inside the county for expedience and accessibility."

The current county attorney is Mike Corley of Smithville.

"We have a great county attorney," Gannon said. "I have 100 percent confidence in him and I know he has answered many questions and done a lot of research without charging the county. I find it totally irresponsible for someone who doesn't even have to answer to lawsuits to be concerned about who the county attorney is.

"Not one time have I had difficulty getting on touch with Mr. Corley. I have always found him to be reachable when I need him."

Gannon also said that in some ways it helps that the county's attorney does not have a residence here.

"That way they have an arms-length from local politics, and they are able to give a more objective opinion."

Gannon added it is important the county have an attorney that someone in his position is comfortable working with.

"No matter what department in county government gets sued, all lawsuits go through the county executive's office and the county executive is named as a defendant. It is very important I have someone I have full confidence in, someone who will tell me what I need to hear and not what they think I might want to hear,  because I am the one who has to work with him concerning other department's lawsuits."