Budget Committee Votes To Raise Property Tax 20 Cents

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The Cannon County Commission's Budget Committee passed the actual proposed budget for the 2011-2012 fiscal year Thursday night. The challenge though was working to find an agreeable way to fund the budget.  

The Committee, made up of Chairman Mark Barker, Clint Higgins, Kevin George, James Adkins and Bill Jennings, sat at the round table in the courtroom of the courthouse and discussed the various ways to fund the budget.  

According to the updated budget figures report, the Estimated Ending Fund Balance for FY 2010-2011 was $502,900.00.  If revenues do not increase during the 2011-2012 fiscal year, the fund balance will end up in a estimated low $2,698.00.  State auditors suggest that a county store three months of operating expenses in the General Fund Balance.

Cannon County easily spends more money than the revenues it take in. Estimated Expenditures for the 2010-2011 year totaled $6,063,243.00, while total estimated revenue for the fiscal year equaled out to be $5,865,338.00. Estimated Revenues for the 2011-2012 fiscal year will only be $5,008,460.00 while the expenditures total out at $5,514.058.40.

One small minor cut was made to the budget Thursday night and that was in the line item of Maintenance Agreements of the Election Commission Office which was scaled back to the $11,611.00 figure that was budgeted last year.

 The Committee went over their thoughts on some of the larger budgeted departments in the county. Once again it was brought out that the County Ambulance Service has had a high expense going out to revenue coming in issue.

Ambulance Director Ricky Cope attended the meeting and assured the Committee he was doing the best job he could do but because of the low call volume, low revenue from Medicare payments, and ambulances having to transport patients outside of Cannon County, the issues would still exist.  There is a collection agency that is working to collect some of the money owed to the Ambulance Service by patients and insurance companies. This should have a positive impact on bringing in more revenue for the Ambulance Service.

County Solid Waste was talked about.  Per the report, total estimated revenues for the 2010-2011 fiscal year came out to be $505,488.00, with expenditures estimated at $515,757.00.  Estimated Ending Fund Balance for Solid Waste for the 2011-2012 fiscal year shows a negative $41,509.00 balance.

The Committee then started talking about ways to increase revenue as almost all County Departments either retained the same amount of money as last year's budget or made more cuts to turn in figures showing a decrease in their budgets from the year before.  This in itself showed the issue was one of revenue.

The Committee mentioned looking into increasing local sales tax to the level it is in neighboring counties. The possible solution would have to be put on a referendum in order for the public to vote.  

Next solution was a possible increase in property taxes. The Committee members debated that solution, but in the end all agreed that in order for the budget to be funded, a property tax increase had to be in order.  The current property tax rate is $2.32, which breaks down to 16 cents going to solid waste, 4 cents to the Debt Services, $1.22 going to County General with the remaining 89 cents going toward schools.

It was voted on amongst the committee members to recommend a 20 cent property tax increase, which will add 3 cents to solid waste, bringing the total to 19 cents. Debt Services will remain the same at 4 cents while the County General fund will get 16 cents of the increase, totalling $1.38. The Schools will receive a penny totalling 90 cents.

The property tax rate would then be $2.52, but as the Committee pointed out on an average property valued at $100,000 the property tax would only increase $50, breaking down even further to $1.00 a week.  

The Committee will present the budget recommendation for approval along with the separate request of budget funding to the full Cannon County Commissioners on July 16th.

County Executive Mike Gannon stated there have been Commissioners in the past that have been all for the budget requests but when it came time to vote for funding the budget, the same commissioners turned it down.  Both budget and funding of the budget will be voted on separately at the Saturday meeting.
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Members Opinions:
July 08, 2011 at 10:16am
They need to create a renters tax for all the folks that rent and dont pay jack. It seems like the more you try to have things in life the more u are taxed to death.
July 08, 2011 at 5:19pm
A lot of our tax revenue goes out to other countys because we have limited places to shop here.I've heard that this county has voted out other industry and retail stores that would bring in revenue to this county instead of sending it to our neighbors. If this is true maybe they can rethink this instead of raising out taxes to pay for everything. We already have limited places to work here for this reason and have to go neighboring counties to work and shop.
July 08, 2011 at 5:25pm
Great to see where education stands in the CC ,the dump is getting three cents and schools get a penny!
July 08, 2011 at 5:30pm
I mean no disrespect to anyone but when it comes to trying to find where to get the funds to run this county maybe its time to rethink this situation instead of getting it off the backs of our citizens even the unemployed that can't afford to put food on their table let along try to figure out how to come up with extra money to pay these increased taxes. Please improve our county in other ways with things like a bigger workforce and industry instead of this!!
July 08, 2011 at 5:43pm
Landlords pay property taxes with rent money collected so, renters do pay "jack" or property taxes everytime they pay their rent.

July 08, 2011 at 7:11pm
I want to know where the wheel tax sticker money goes!!! And I agree with TerriJones-we need more places to work in this county. And it would help if those places would employ local people and people that are LEGAL!! The only industry in Cannon Co. is full of "questionable" People. That's why no one here can find work! I am at the point to where I am ready to put a "For Sale" sign on my house and move to a county with lower taxes!! And no wheel tax that we have been paying for YEARS!!!

July 08, 2011 at 7:54pm
This is a hot topic in this economic period, and I would have to say that it is hard to have revenue for the county when people are going out of town to shop. So how can we bring these people in to do so? You have to change public perception of by going to Murfreesboro they are saving money. I did the math using my SUV.

I drive from my house to Lowes and back because they have a product that is $20 versus $25 in Woodbury. From the center of town to Lowes it is 21 miles one way. My SUV uses gas at 25 cents a mile so a 42 mile trip costs me $10.50. So before I even get to Lowes I have already spent $30.50, but don't forget sales tax is 9.75% in Rutherford county. This gives me a total of $33.47. If I had bought this in Woodbury I would have saved $4.92 because I only spent maybe $5.00 in gas depending on where you live and sales tax is only 8.75% it gave me a total of $28.55 for the same product.

This model will vary depending on your vehicle and how close or how far away you live from Murfreesboro, my model used the center of town as the distance factor for this example. Do the math before you say you save money is all I am saying because you may not actually be saving money.
July 08, 2011 at 8:19pm
**Correction for the Woodbury product I save 84 cents. I had a total of $32.63 (Looked at the wrong notes)for the same product. Still saved money though.
July 08, 2011 at 9:11pm
I heard the wheel tax is suppost to come off soon. We are use to paying this and I wouldn't mind paying for a little while longer to help save teachers jobs and get the school budgets out of the whole. Iknow it wasn't designed to be spent this way but it could possibly be a short term solution. In regarding our job market, I was a daycare provider for 33 years until illness forced me to close and I personally saw most everyone have to go to a different county to find work and while they were there did their shopping for convenience and because they were limited here with lack of places to shop. For all of these years I saw all our potential revenue going to other counties and thought how our county needed this revenue for our local econony and jobs here where we aren't forced to drive so far and put unnecessary wear and tear on our cars. For years I had worked hard and was busy and didn't see how this impacted others so much until I had to close my business and experienced the hardship that others face everyday. I have never spoken out on this issue until I read that the our county officials wanted to raise our taxes to be comparable to the surrounding counties that have the work force that we don't have and this was the final straw for me. I felt I needed to speak out as having experience as a business owner and watched this happening for years ...enough is enough its time to solve our problems and get serious with attracting retail and industries to our county for a healthier economy.
July 08, 2011 at 9:36pm
Ok I'm responding to the article that efisk posted I totally agree with you BUT there are a lot of things that can't be purchased here and have to drive to Murfreesboro or McMinnville. Believe me I drive a hog of a truck that makes me look at the gas hand in disbelief every time I drive it out of town so I do buy locally and to help the economy when you can find it here. Thats where the problem comes in there's not much here. This is what I have been talking about.
July 09, 2011 at 2:50am
Everyone can complain until the cows come home about not having jobs in Woodbury, but when you can only get two out of the ten County Commissioners to show up for a business forum designed to help us figure out how to bring more jobs into Cannon County we will always have few places to work.

efisk you are right when it concerns buying one product from Lowes, it is cheaper at times to buy in Woodbury vs. driving to Murfreesboro. However, if you have a lot to buy the math doesnt't always work that way. And the biggest problem is I can't find the same goods in Woodbury as I can in Murfreesboro.

Has anyone tried to buy a pair of Levi's in Woodbury? Have you tried to buy a decent pair of shoes here? You can't find them because there are no stores that sell them.

I buy my gas here and pay a dime extra per gallon. I do that to help our community. But, I can go to Wal-Mart and get twice as much groceries for $200.00 as I can here and have twice as many options.

A 20 cent property tax will kill people who are on fixed incomes. If anyone with common sense had planned for the future we would have raised taxes by a nickel five years ago and we wouldn't be in such a pickle today would we?
July 09, 2011 at 9:08am
Actually, just to clarify, I attended the budget meetings and the schools are getting 3 cents. It was stated that the schools were given a one time extra 2 cents in November to help with last year. The committee decided to let them keep those two cents in the school budget again this year, and added another cent to it, changing their portion from 87.5 cents to 90.5 cents.
July 09, 2011 at 9:24am
The Wheel tax was voted in to fund the new High School why arent these funds still going to the school systems in Cannon County they have went up 10 percent since it started,and as far as increasing property taxes it hurts the poor in the County when these elected commissoners were all born with a silver spoon in there mouth to start with....
July 09, 2011 at 12:01pm
I am responding to the article by Corey, yes we can complain until the cows come about not having jobs in Woodbury I didn't mention this in the other articles before but I have heard from more than one person that a retail store has tried to come in to Woodbury and heard had already bought land to build it on but it was voted out and not allowed to set up business here. If this is not true I apoligize now but if it is true it would bring enormous job opportunities for our citizens. They employ a large workforce. I believe it wouldn't bring that much of a hard ship on most of the other stores here because one of the stores carries items that you can't find in other stores and the dollar store can compete with this large retail store. I know I would still shop in the stores we have now and know others would also. If my memory is right I believe it was voted out because they didn't want it to hurt the small town feel. I know this store came to Smithville and hasn't hurt its small town feel there. I have witnessed that. I don't mean to step on any ones toes and mean no disrespect but we can't afford to turn away any large opportunities to work our citizens in our own county. I agree with you Corey thats its up to us taxpayers to let the comminishers know this is what we want and need.
July 09, 2011 at 1:40pm
I personally think the taxes should have been raised to 25 cents and giving 6 cents to the school system and guess what I am not a teacher or employed by the school system. Go ahead and panic over that statement while I shock you again. I know unemployment rates are rising, but there is no excuse for anyone who is able not to have a job. Yes, it might not be the ideal job you want, but get out and get to work. The best way to get a good job is already be working somewhere. If you still can't find a job, get out and plant a garden or help someone who has a garden, that way you can learn a skill and save money by growing your own food. If you still can't find a job, volunteer your time doing something in Woodbury that will help the community. Volunteering is a wonderful door opener to a meaningful career. And another thing, lay off the committe members, I know them all and they are all hard working citizens of our county and have volunteered their time to serve on the budget committee. Those of you who can't find a job, go over to the dump and sort all the recycleable materials so those items can be sold and bring in money for the county instead of costing the county money. Solid Waste is really where the focus needs to be in cost cutting. I think maybe the county should pay a reward for submitting cost saving ideas!
July 09, 2011 at 4:17pm

efisk very few people understand the facts you state. Ofcourse the price spread on comparable products and travel expence will vary between products and individuals, but your theory is spot-on. many ill-informed shoppers just blindly run to wally world and buy garabage at a deal.

i may be mistaken and sure i will stand corrected if so but, i do believe all proceeds from the wheel tax does and has always gone to schools. i beleive it was also approved for a fixed time which should be reaching term soon but i dont believe it will ever go away. the only change i forsee in wheel tax and all other forms of taxation is increases.

bones i cant think of a county with lower taxes. if you know of one please let us know. i am sure there some in mississippi but they also have state income tax.

this 8.6% increase in property tax will hurt many of us but for the short term we have only two options - pay our taxes or sell out and leave.

the first step ,for future relief, must be to manage the income and expences of every department of our county as effenciently as possable.
July 09, 2011 at 11:42pm
The idea of taxing more in an economy like we face today is a tough sell to people who live on a fixed income. Especially when you are talking about an 8.6 % increase as Bud says it is. I bet many of you would like to have an 8.6% increase in your take home pay?

What so many people fail to see and refuse to recognize is that we have very few people in leadership roles in Cannon County who actually think beyond today and plan for tomorrow.

This budget shortfall has been looming for years and now the chickens have come home to roost. Now we have to place a tourniquet on what should have been a Band-Aid cut. Does it ever occur to anyone that had we raised taxes 5 cents over each of the last five years we would not be in the position we are in today and we could have had a surplus?

Also, no offense to the school system but we could give the schools a 25 cent increase each year for the next 50 years and it wouldn't be enough because it is a bottomless pit. As long as we continue to sink millions of wasted dollars into the idea of having five grammar schools in Cannon County then no one needs to complain about the schools not having enough money.

When you spend over $800,000 dollars a year EACH to keep three schools open that have less than 150 students K-8 in them then you get what you pay for in my opinion. That is $2.4 million dollars a YEAR for approximately 450 students.

Do that math and it works out to be over $5300.00 spent on each student every year. How many of you think that those children get a $53000 education each year? Especially considering the list of items you have to buy every year to include; Kleenex, paper towels, hand sanitizer, Lysol, etc. etc.

I know a lot of people don't like my opinion and that's ok. I don't mind if you disagree with me. However, one thing I know and no one can disagree with me is that as long as we continue to live like we are in the 1950's then we will always face the problems we face today. And they will only get worse as time progresses.
July 10, 2011 at 5:46am
The tax rate is set each year by county commissioners, who are representatives of the citizens in the districts in which they reside. Those representatives are elected every four years. Sometimes the membership changes between elections because members die or resign. Five of the persons who will vote on the FY2011-2012 budget and tax rate Saturday will be doing so for the first time. A sixth will be doing so for the second time.
July 10, 2011 at 8:59am
Whether you are a new commissioner or an old commissioner is irrelevant to the idea of planning for tomorrow. In my opinion, we are still just looking for a way to solve the problem we face today with a 20 cent tax increase and have no idea what we will do about next year.

Where are the ideas for tomorrow? What are the plans for our long term future? The goal should be to be pro-active instead of re-active.

Does anyone think our economy is getting better? Has anyone seen the latest unemployment figures? They are on the rise and not the fall. We have very little tax base in Cannon County and our unemployment is hovering around 9. So where will the money come from next year when we face another shortfall?

I don't blame the new members of the commissioners group who have never voted for a budget, but I do find fault in the 40% who never looked beyond the moment they were in toward what might happen in the future. And I will hold the new commissioners responsible if they don’t plan for tomorrow as well.

This financial crisis we are facing today as a county and as a country have been going on for almost five years. It all didn't just take place last August when we elected new commissioners and it isn’t going to end anytime soon.

Perhaps I wouldn't be as cynical if more than two of the commissioners had actually attended the business forum with the specific goal of bringing new jobs and industry to Cannon County, which in turn would have helped the tax base.
July 10, 2011 at 9:51am
The situation changes from year-to-year, and a lot of what Cannon County is able to do, or not do, is influenced by the state of the national economy. Five years ago it would have been possible to lower property taxes and still balance the county's budget. No one can predict with any certainty what the situation will be five years from now. If I recall correctly the only concrete suggestion to emerge from the business forum was the construction of a spec building. I discussed the feasibility of doing so with Harold Patrick and Mike Gannon in the weeks after the meeting. Both thought it was a good idea, when the time was right. Neither was sure now is the right time. Both indicated the cost to build one would be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars range. Each said there was a good possibility one could sit idle for a number of years. Gannon said he would be more inclined to have the county build one when the existing facilities which were originally spec buildings are paid off and then use the rent money to pay for the construction of a new one. Both Patrick and Gannon said that they would readily favor funding a building if a business came to them and said they would locate here if one were built. Setting goals is a laudable effort, but they must be realistic to the times. For instance, Mark Pody set the goal of bringing jobs to Cannon County when he ran for state representative, but as things stand now he may not achieve it before he runs for re-election next year.
July 10, 2011 at 12:40pm
Well Kevin I appreciated Mike and Harold attending the forum and I said so publically. However, Mike and Harold both are confined by authority of the County Commissioners and the Alderperson's. The power to change Cannon County or Woodbury lies within both of those bodies and not with Mike or Harold per say.

The idea of constructing a new building was discussed along with several other ideas to include remodeling current buildings with upgrades of fiber optics, sewage, water and needed improvements to entice new industry. We also discussed new land sites for constructing a building and the addition of a Farmers Market located at the Arts Center. Marketing Cannon County for tourism was also discussed. The meeting I attended had more than one "concrete" suggestion made than just a construction of a spec building in order to create jobs here.

Also, the construction of a new building is the key to enticing new industry to Cannon County. There is no "right" time to do it except for this moment in time. To wait will simply increase costs and labor and the price of land.

And again, I go back to the idea of planning five to ten years ago would already have us in place today to possibly get something new to this area. But, despite not doing it five years ago doesn’t mean we shouldn’t plan for it five years from now! I agree that you can’t see what will happen five years from now, but you can at least think about where you want to be and how you might get there.

We currently have NOTHING to offer any new industry to come to our community. There are 94 other counties that want the same industry and most of those have a business plan, an incentive plan, long term goals toward building, land studies, sewage plans, water plans and more importantly they have someone assigned to each project with a specific target date of completion. What are we doing?

As far as Mark Pody goes, I will say this. He was instrumental in helping get the people we needed at the business forum to come to Cannon County. They were all there ready to meet with our Commissioners, Alderpersons and anyone else who had an idea of how to help Cannon County.

How did we repay him? We had two out of the ten Commissioners show up and we had a few of the Alderperson's show up. Since that time there has been no talk from the people who have the power to change our community that I am aware of with Mark about what was discussed at that meeting and no plans of doing anything different than what we have been doing for years.

Mark's goal to bring jobs to Cannon County is an achievable one, but not without some effort on the part of the people we elect to make the laws, set the budget, buy the land, sign the contracts and work for our community.
July 10, 2011 at 1:25pm
What we have is the Three Star Program. We would not have that were it not for the efforts of Neal Appelbaum. Full participation in it by government, business and citizens might address the needs you mention. For the most part, as far as I can tell, it exists in name only. Its lived, died, and now appears to be on some form of life support. That said, I know that Patrick and Gannon continue to make efforts to attract new industry. For the most part they are unwillingly to have those efforts made public, for fear that doing so will put any potential deal in jeopardy. The competition is fierce, money is limited, and Cannon County has less to offer than most of the counties which surround it, the chief ones being transportation infrastructure and terrain which makes extending sewer/water lines difficult and expensive.
July 10, 2011 at 3:43pm
You are correct about the Three Star Program and the efforts of Neal Applebaum. If it were not for him then it would not exist.

And I applaude him for doing something that was the job of the Commissioners we elect. I personally called Neil and invited him to the business forum and he showed up even after attending a previous meeting earlier in the night.
That is more than I can say for 8 of our County Commissioners.

Full participation by the government, businesses and citizens as you suggest is the only way it work. Until then we are D.O.A. and not on life support.

And finally, we have less to offer because we make little effort to change it or make it better. That would go against the idea of what has been tradition for the last 50 years.
July 10, 2011 at 5:01pm
If there were nine other people also willing to do so, I would volunteer four hours of my time and services per month to a citizens organization whose task was to plan for the future of Cannon County, giving the county what would amount to one full-time person dedicated to the job.
July 10, 2011 at 5:52pm
Count me in!

All you need is 8 more. Tell me when and where to show up and I will be there. I spend four hours a month online complaining about things, at least I can put up or shut up by putting four hours toward making the county a better place to live.

I don't care what politics you are, what your financial income is, what religion you are or if you are pink, blue, white, black or green. If you have an idea that would help then bring it on.

Personally, I wouldn't limit it to 10, I think the more the merrier!

I have to ask though, what will we accomplish without the support of the County Commissioners or the Alderperson's of the city of Woodbury?
July 10, 2011 at 6:05pm
The first order of business would be forming the organization. I am not opposed to more than 10 but I would think you would need around that number to make the effort worthwhile. And not to sound arrogant, the last I checked elected officials work for us. Like so many organization in the community, I am not opposed to going before them and asking them to consider a proposition I consider worthy. But I also realize that in the end you can only lead a horse to water.
July 20, 2011 at 3:04pm
Proud to say I voted for Neil Appelbaum! Maybe everyone else should have to. Seems to me he's about the only one that cares!!
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