Gannon Backs Central Financial System For County
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Cannon County Executive Mike Gannon says he is not opposed to the idea of establishing a centralized financial management system for the county. 

“It’s a concept I have supported since the State Comptroller’s Office first began recommending one in their annual audits,” Gannon said. “It is not something I have pushed because I know it will increase government spending.”

Gannon estimates the creation of a central financial office will cost the county around $100,000 annually. The Comptroller’s Office believes one is needed to better protect and spend taxpayer’s money.

“My governing philosophy has always been that the best way to protect taxpayer’s money is to not spend it in the first place,” Gannon said. “What money that is collected should be spent as much as possible on services that help people and not on funding government operations.”

Gannon said he has spoken with mayors whose counties have a central system and has received a variety of views on having one.

“One told me it was the best thing that could happen for me. He said it takes away some of the burdens of the job. Like the Comptroller said (in a recent article provided to The Cannon Courier) it would take away a lot of my workload and free me up to do other things I need to be doing. I guess I would benefit more than anyone.”

However, Gannon said he doesn’t think a different financial management system will save the county money.

“I have not seen where it would save any money and none of the executives I have spoken to said it did in their counties. I think the reason only a little over half of the counties in the state have one is because they are small counties struggling to make ends meet every year.”

The county executive said he thinks the Cannon County Commission should study the matter and determine whether or not a central financial system would be both beneficial and cost-effective.

“I think the commission should take time to evaluate everything, get all the facts, and show taxpayers where money can either be saved, better protected or spent more efficiently.”

One reason to have a central financial office cited by the Comptroller’s Office was the recent guilty plea by the former director of the Cannon County REACH Afterschool Program to stealing over $60,000 from the program. Gannon’s office was criticized for a lack of oversight in the special investigative audit report which helped uncover the theft.

“There were some things we should have done better and I’ve acknowledge that and we have taken corrective measures. According to the auditors REACH has been operating fine for over a year and a half. They tell me everything has been and is being well documented now,” Gannon said.

He also pointed out that theft, fraud and embezzlement have occurred in other counties in recent years, including those with a central financial system.

“Our (county executive’s) office has become a lot more demanding in terms of why money is being asked for and what it is being spent on since the REACH incident began to unfold in late 2010,” Gannon said.

One thing Gannon thinks should be done before the commission decides on establishing a central system is to wait and see what the recently-formed county audit committee says in its initial report.

“At the urging of the Cannon County Republican Party and with my support the audit committee was formed. The people serving on the committee are informed individuals who know our unique situation and the difficulties of operating on a small budget. We should hear what they have to say about how our money is being spent, managed and accounted for before moving forward.”

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Members Opinions:
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April 13, 2012 at 12:08pm
The audit committee was also reccommended by several Cannon County Commissioners along with the members of the Cannon County Republican Party prior to its implementation. Without the support of the Commissioners it would have been doomed. The problem for a few months was getting it placed on the agenda to be given consideration.

There were those who blasted the reccommendation as political grandstanding at the time, but have suddenly seen the light now I am glad to say. Funny how that worked out.

Personally there are many different things and ideas that I have supported over the years but I find that an easy thing to say.

For example, I support the idea of NOT raising our taxes in an economy such as the one we live in.

Yet, there is a proposal to place a referrendum to increase our local sales tax on the upcoming November election ballot.

If that is placed on the ballot and if the citizens of this county vote to increase thier own taxes then it is estimated that would bring an additional $450,000 in revenue into our general fund.

$225,000 is automatically given to the schools system each year of which the ten county commissioners have no control over except to approve or disapprove of the money the school system asks for. The other $225,000 it is up to the commissioners to use as they see fit.

Here is my suggestion if the tax increase comes to pass:

Take $100,000 and pay for the centralized accounting system. Then there is no property tax increase needed to pay for it and no one can complain because the money used on it is money that the citizens of Cannon County have voted yes on when they had the option to say no.

Take the remaining $125,000 each year and place it in an interest bearing account and at the end of four years we would have a minimum of $500,000 plus that we could use toward building a spec building to entice new industry into Cannon County to help create jobs. Which in turn would help create more tax dollars.

How many of the Courier readers, County Commissioners or the County Executive would support that proposal?

Doesn't that solve the problem of
"the best way to protect taxpayer’s money is to not spend it in the first place” considering the citizens would be who voted for the increase?
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April 13, 2012 at 1:39pm
"Yet, there is a proposal to place a referrendum to increase our local sales tax on the upcoming November election ballot."

That proposal may be rescinded at Saturday's commission meeting. At least that is indicated on the agenda.

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April 13, 2012 at 1:56pm
9. The Chair will entertain a motion to readdress the resolution for the local sales tax increase at the May meeting.

This is on the agenda for tomorrow according to the article you posted unless the Courier has not printed the correct agenda.

Any thoughts on my idea above since that is on the agenda?
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April 13, 2012 at 2:11pm
Only that I guess we'll have to wait until at least after tomorrow's meeting or until May's meeting to see what happens with respect to a referendum on increasing the local option sales tax.
April 13, 2012 at 4:54pm
Once again, I ask the question. Do either of you (Kevin or Corey) know anything about the budgeting systems currently in place? As Mr. Gannon stated above, about the REACH program, "they tell me.....". Am I missing something here? I would be looking at the figures, myself, if I was the county executive, after what has already happened.
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April 13, 2012 at 5:12pm
The auditors provide both the county executive and the REACH director with a review of what is being done and how it is being done. That's their job and that's why they are consulted. I will ask the county executive specifically if he looks at the figures himself, but my guess is he does in that he told me the program brought in around $15,000 more this year than it did last year.
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April 13, 2012 at 7:23pm
ladyreader what do you want to know about the budgeting systems in place? If you would be more specific then perhaps I could answer your questions.

If it is a general question, then the answer is yes I do know something about budgeting systems in place because I make it my business to know. Do I know everything? NO, I don't. But trust me when I say if I want to know then I will find out.

I notice no one wants to opine on my suggestion of how to use the extra $225,000 if the sales tax increase comes to fruition.

Maybe because it is a lot harder to say we shouldn't have to use tax dollars to pay for a centralized accounting system when the citizens could actually vote to increase their own taxes.

I found a way to accomplish two goals that should be implemented by using tax dollars that everyone will have the ability to vote on and there is no discussion on that. Wow!
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April 13, 2012 at 7:37pm
No discussion? As I write this 26 members have discussed it -- by voting in the poll :)

I may wait until after the chicken's hatched to opine.
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April 13, 2012 at 8:08pm
Fair enough to wait until the decision is made to place it on the referendum.

But, I don't think we can wait until it hatches before we start to opine because at that point they will find a way to use the money and it certainly won't be on any idea I laid.

P.S. I was part of the 26 who had voted so far. Guess what my vote was?
April 14, 2012 at 12:11am
I don't think there is anything to worry about with regard to an increase in local sales taxes. Cannon Countians have not voted themselves a sales tax increase in decades. Don't think that trend will reverse itself now. Especially, in this economy.
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April 14, 2012 at 9:23am
I hope not Bonnie.

But there are a lot of persuasive people who like the idea of being handed $225,000 to do with what they please.
April 14, 2012 at 8:04pm
Corey, It hasn't worked before and I can't see it working now. It is up to the people, the voters, to determine whether or not to raise the sales tax. Even in times when it was direly needed, it did not happen. People are just not going to vote themselves less money in their pocket. Such thinking runs contrary to nature. This is why government spends so much time and energy trying to levy more taxes. They know the people don't favor it and will not vote it themselves. Were this not the case, there would never have been a property tax. Name me one tax that was initiated and implemented by the people as opposed to being initiated and implemented by government?
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April 15, 2012 at 8:33am
Bonnie you are preaching to the Choir!

I am 100% with you on this. I don't think the citizens of this county would vote or should vote to increase their own taxes, but I am really never shocked by the decisions that are made sometimes.

I never would have thought with Cannon County being the buckle of the Bible belt that we would have voted yes to selling beer inside the city limits or approve a distillery but it did.

The wheel tax comes to mind on one that was implemented by the citizens and not by the government. That also was on a referendum to the voters as well.

Personally I was against it because it did not help solve the problem we faced. Instead we used and have been using the money to pay for 6 grammar schools instead of 3 which I think is beyond stupid.

There are so many things that we lead the charge backwards on at times and it becomes very frustrating to me because some of those things are so obvious.
April 15, 2012 at 10:53pm
Corey,
You are right about the wheel tax sticker. This idea was sold to the citizens as a one time tax to extend over the life of the loan to fund the building of the new high school. The new high school has been paid off for several years and the tax still exists. Maybe it is time for a new referendum now wherein the citizens who voted it in to begin with have another chance to vote it out. That would truly be democracy in works!
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April 16, 2012 at 9:26am
Bonnie good luck with getting a tax removed.

That is like trying to fill up the Grand Canyon with a spoon!

I am with you every step of the way.
April 16, 2012 at 9:44pm
Is the process for getting a referendum on the ballot the same as that for other referendums? Does it require only a petition with so many names on it to get it on the ballot? Or is this too simplistic?
April 17, 2012 at 8:17am
Has anyone called the county Election office and asked these questions?
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April 17, 2012 at 1:43pm
To my knowledge if the average citizen wants a referendum placed on the ballot you have to obtain 10% of the number of voters who voted in the last governors race on a petition in order to make it legal and that has to be verified by the election commission's office and it has to meet a certain deadline prior to the elction.

The Commissioners cannot increase our sales tax or wheel tax without automatically placing that on a referendum to be voted on by the voters. That is State law unless I am mistaken.

I didn't call the election office to verify this, but I am pretty sure I am correct.
April 18, 2012 at 8:08am
A search of how the existing wheel tax money is being sent would be in order. It may now be going toward paying off the new elementary school in Woodbury or other improvements made to the county elementary schools. Eliminating the wheel tax money may require the county to increase the property tax to offset such a loss in revenue. If obligations have been satisfied, then for what other purpose would the wheel tax exist?
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April 18, 2012 at 11:18am
The last I knew of the wheel tax sticker it was being used to pay off the WGS Grammar School and all of the additions that were made to the 40, 50 & 60 year old schools that we have.

Of the 58 counties in the State of Tennessee that have it only 14 of them are higher than Cannon County.

As you suggest, an update on the current debt we have where the wheel tax monies are being used to pay off would be a great thing to know.

Technically, the wheel tax is supposed to expire when that debt is paid off. However, I think we went over a year after the High School was paid off.
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April 18, 2012 at 11:19am
P.S. Another good reason a centralized accounting system is needed.
April 26, 2012 at 6:24pm
I definately think we need a centralized accounting system. If it helps keep track of the taxpayers monies, then I'm all for it! I also strongly believe the court house, that's still doing lots of things on paper, should be brought up to the times. I do have to say though, that I know one of the gentlemen on the newly formed Audit Committee,and believe me, he will want to know where EVERY penny goes-as it should be!!

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