Commission Approves, Then Rescinds, Property Tax Hike

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Cannon County will continue without a new budget for the current fiscal year for at least the next few weeks.

The Cannon County Commission first approved an increase of 15 cents to the property tax rate at a special meeting Tuesday night, then rescinded that action.

Instead, the commissioners decided to send the budget back to its Budget Committee with the instruction to come up with one that will balance by keeping the property tax rate at the current $2.32 on $100 of assessed property.

That means that not only will several departments not receive a funding increase, but all departments will be asked to cut their current spending.

By not approving an increase in the property tax rate, the commission pleased many people in the packed courtroom of the courthouse who were opposed to a hike. The debate became so heated that one person was removed from the room and ordered off the courthouse property by the sheriff.

On the other hand the commissioners' decision to not approve additional spending, and to make cuts to existing budgets, undoubtedly displeased the many county employees who attended the meeting. Some members of the commission itself either work for the county or have family members who do.

The Budget Committee is tentatively scheduled to meet again a week from Thursday  (Sept. 1) to take up the matter of reducing proposed spending.

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Members Opinions:
August 24, 2011 at 5:24am
What a JOKE!!!!!!!
August 24, 2011 at 9:53am
Commissioners stick head in the sand and everything will be ok!! You were elected to do what is right for the County, do something!
August 24, 2011 at 12:33pm
My thoughts:

* All 10 commissioners should attend and participate in the next meeting of the Budget Committee.

* Commissioners themselves should determine what cuts should be made, and not the department heads. The department heads have submitted their budgets and they have been gone over at least 13 times. If a commissioner does not approve of a request, he needs to go on record as stating specifically why, and how and what he would cut.

* I am troubled by the fact we will have less deputies patrolling the county for less time and less miles. I am also bothered by the fact the jail will be less secure because there will not be enough corrections officers to oversee the facility, which is already overcrowded.

* Roberts Rule's of Order should be followed at county commission meetings. I am all for people expressing their thoughts, but it should be done either before or after the items on the agenda are voted on or discussed, and not in the middle of the proceedings. The lack of order Tuesday night made rationale, deliberate discussion by the commissioners impossible. The school board does not allow such interruptions at its meetings, and neither should the commission.
August 24, 2011 at 12:59pm
Kevin I couldn't agree more.

I personally attend anywhere from 10 to 15 meetings a month and by far that meeting last night was the most entertaining yet ineffective meeting I have been associated with over the last year.

I believe there should be some form of crowd participation and time set aside for questions or comments, but last night it was evident that the audience ran the meeting.

There were shouts, chants, petitions and name calling throughout the entire process and at times it was impossible to hear what was being said.

My suggestion to anyone who has issues or concerns is to contact your district commissioner and express your concerns to them personally. Your voice can then be heard in a sensible manner and meetings can be held without all of the nonsense last night.

We had High School students in attendance last night (my son included) and we demonstrated the exact opposite of what we would expect of them in a classroom or any other formal setting.

There were shouts from the crowd to shut the government down. Wow, that will really show people how brilliant we are. Let's shut it down and close the schools. Now everyone is screaming because they don't have daycare for the students who are not in school because we shut the government down.

There were shouts to make a four day week at the Courthouse to save money. Let’s play that scenario out. Your tags run out and you go to get them renewed and the courthouse is closed. Then you get a ticket for driving on expired tags because we closed the courthouse to save money. DUHH!

If anyone wonders why we accomplish so little in Cannon County then they should have been at last night’s meeting.

I know this will be hard for some to understand, but it is time we started leading this county and making decisions based on what is right for everyone vs. what our personal emotions tell us to do.
August 24, 2011 at 1:24pm
Kevin & Corey,
You are correct and offer simple, yet feasbile solutions.
August 24, 2011 at 1:40pm
I feel like we have enough law enforcement working for the county I would bet they are housing State prisoners in the jail getting state matched funds why not send them onto the State pen and ease crowding in the jail it takes less personal then and as far as the crowd I think it was a great turn out let the comissioners know how most will vote next election if the county is not run right and a 4 day work week might not be so bad because I get my renewal for tags a month ahead of time before they expire so why wait untill the last minute to get them unless you run out of money paying high property taxes.....
August 24, 2011 at 1:45pm
Last night meeting rememinded me of the song "Jokers to the left and clowns to the right"!
August 24, 2011 at 1:54pm
The state won't take the inmates, especially female ones, because they are overcrowded too. The matching funds the state pays does not cover the actual cost.

Having a four-day work week would not necessarily decrease expenses because you still have to have qualified people willing to work for the amount paid.

Because some people do not think, or say that, the county is "run right" does not make it so. People who feel that way should put forth specific, workable ideas and plans that meet the approval of a majority of citizens.

Take for instance the claim some make that there would be solid waste savings if the hauling contract were bid out. There may be, but doing so may also result in both an increase is cost, and less service.
August 24, 2011 at 2:06pm
The courthouse is already on a four and one half day week now, rember it closes on wensday and half day on saturday so that is not a feasible way to save any money.
August 24, 2011 at 2:45pm
The events I have heard over the police scanner just in the past hour and a half (from 1 to 2:30 p.m.) would make it difficult for me to make a case for less law enforcement. First there was a report of a person coming into town from Murfreesboro driving recklessly. That was followed by a call to Dewey Bryson Road for a report of a tractor accident which, and I stress if, I understand the radio traffic correctly, unfortunately resulted in a fatality. While that was going on an officer was dispatched to South McCrary St. for a report of a possible dog poisoning. There appears to be more than enough happening all day, every day to keep local law enforcement busy.
August 24, 2011 at 2:50pm
I've seen several with small business and work within the county dumping at the convenice center with a truck pulling a 20 foot trailer with a dump bed,these loads with 4 to 6 tons of trash need to go to the landfill or just like the major business in town do rent a dumpster that would also save on expenses the budget comittee needs to look at all factors I'm not the only one seeing all the problems or some people turn there heads the other way.There probably is a need for some new taxes but it needs to be used for helping out our county system not miss usung funds like have been done in the past, times are hard right now and the future is not a lot brighter either so let the people be heard.
August 24, 2011 at 3:04pm
I am not advocating not letting people be heard. I am advocating they not be heard during the middle of a meeting, just before or after it.

I agree times are hard. They are for me. I don't think they will get better anytime soon. I don't think government should cost one penny more than what is necessary. But that is the $2.32, $2.47 or $2.52 question, and one which the commissioners should determine in a thoughtful, rationale process not necessary based on either their emotions or those who elect them.
August 24, 2011 at 3:07pm
Part of the problem I saw last night through the shouts and the cursing was the lack of transparency in the budget.

I do not know of any personal mishandling of any money from any elected official and I will not accuse them of any.

However, when you look at the budget and you can't specifically break down line item by line item and show the public where every tax dollar is spent then you leave the impression that there is something being hidden from them.

Perception is everything when it comes to tax dollars being spent. If the Commissioners and Mike Gannon want the people to stop complaining about waste then the best way to solve that problem is to present a budget that shows where every single penny is being spent. I have a copy of the budget from last night and very little of that information can be determined.

As far as the idea of not bidding out contracts for services such as hauling solid waste, it also leaves the impression that there that something shady is going on. Even if it is not, the idea is there when the bidding of contracts, jobs, etc. is not being done.

I do not agree that the Commissioners should determine what should be cut from each department. That is what we elect those people to do. To manage their business, to create and monitor budgets and to work within their means. If it is determined that there is a need for another 3% spending cuts from each department then that department head has the know how and ability to determine what they can cut.

We had commissioners who voted against a tax paid for by people who are convicted of a misdemeanor or felony that would go toward our domestic violence program at no cost to the taxpayer. I have issues with them deciding how much money needs to be cut from the Ambulance Department for example when they can't even vote for a $1.00 increase that costs the County nothing.

We have and continue to create more problems than we need. For the life of me I cannot figure that out. Some of it is due to simple lack of education, some of it is because we lead with our emotions and some of it is out of pure stubbornness.

Whatever the case may be something has got to give!
August 24, 2011 at 3:15pm
Many of the commissioners campaigned promising not to raise taxes. They are simply keeping their promises. If you don't like it, cast your vote for someone else next election.
August 24, 2011 at 3:33pm
When they made that promise, did they know that less revenue would be coming in to support existing services? Did they campaign on the promise of cutting services, and indicate what they would cut? Where they aware that in some areas, such as law enforcement, services were already lacking?
August 24, 2011 at 3:39pm
I don't recall anyone saying anything about no taxes during this last election.

In fact I don't recall anyone running for the County Comission saying anything or printing anything at all.

The only thing I saw was election signs. When did these people say all of these things?
August 24, 2011 at 4:11pm
Sept 3rd is a Sat Kevin... did you mean Sept 1st?
August 24, 2011 at 5:00pm
Commissioner Barker said it might be next Thursday. I have changed the story to Sept. 1 (it was late last night when I wrote it). I am now hearing it might be Monday the 5th, but that is also Labor Day. As soon as I know something definitive I will post it.
August 24, 2011 at 5:31pm
The individuals who were elected to the public offices, heads of depts someone called them, know what their office spends, what their budget amounts to. It should be their responsibility to make cuts. They make demands and expect the Commissioners to pass their budgets. Commissioners, why don't you ask the other elected officials how they can cut their own budgets. They must run for re-election sooner or later so instead of passing the ball to you, it is in their court. Then you can meet in an orderly fashion and have a workable budget. The individual office holders including the sheriff just spend money like there is no accountability to the public. The people of this county are tired of trying to pay taxes when their income is slim and none in some cases. Have any of you seen how many vacant houses there are now or how many have been foreclosed. None of these belong to any of the judges or office holders, their salaries keep increasing.
August 24, 2011 at 5:49pm
How have you determined that the office holders "just spend money like there is no accountability to the public?" They submitted budget requests months ago. Over a series of 13 budget committee meetings those budget requests were examined and department heads were asked to justify the expenditures by the committee. Then the budget was submitted to the full commission. It was not approved. Therefore the onus should be on the commissioners to say what they would cut.

As to your final statement of "their salaries keep increasing" that is because the state sets their salaries, as they do for every office holder in the state, based in part on population.

What some people don't take into account, or refuse to accept, is that Cannon County is not an island into itself. It operates under the auspices of the State of Tennessee and, like 94 other counties, is mandated to provide certain services and the cost of some of those services is determined by the state. If a county does not provide those services in the manner the state dictates, the state will take over operations of the county and force it to do so.
August 24, 2011 at 7:23pm
I agree with the idea of what you propose Kevin with exception to the point of the Commissioners making the cuts in each department vs. the elected official making the cuts in the department they work in every day.

Last night's flip flop in the tax increase, the 30 minute debate over a $1.00 litigation fee that costs the county nothing, the lack of control in the meeting, the inability to provide a line item budget, the discussion that we need a 15 cent tax increase instead of a 20 cent tax increase and then the 5-5 vote that needed Mike Gannon to provide a tiebreaker proves to me that these guys don't have the ability to work together long enough to decide what needs to be cut from the budget of any department in the county.

It is way too subjective to allow someone who knows nothing about how a particular department is run the ability to decide what money needs to be cut when they have proven they are inept to begin with.

The people who hold the elected offices are capable of deciding where additional cuts can be made. They certainly don't need the help of our County Commissioners to muddy the waters any more than they already have.
August 24, 2011 at 8:07pm
Corey, picture yourself as a current county commissioner. You have just decided that the tax rate should remain what it is and that departments are spending too much money and need to make cuts. Try going home and selling that notion to your family members who work in county government. You are basically saying they have been dishonest in what they have requested. As I wrote, some of the county commissioners are actually in that situation, or work in county government, or have had close working relationships with those who are. Those situations are what leads me to want to put the burden of cutting on the commissioners instead of the department heads.
August 24, 2011 at 8:10pm
Wow! I hope i can raise my son to have more respect in public than what apparently happened at the "meeting" of our elected officials. They all need to be voted out and get new people and ideas in this county. I will do my part, but i am only one person. Do these people not think they look ridiculous and set a very poor example for the young people of this county. Please don't give a reason for Cannon to be called a hick redneck town with a bunch of illiterate people with no sense of manners or ethics. I would pay 15 cents for better schools and services. Who is influencing all these people anyway?? Get yourselves out of the hole and open your eyes. FACE REALITY! NOT WHAT A BUNCH OF LOUDMOUTHS TELL YOU!
August 24, 2011 at 8:31pm
I totally agree with Kevin in the comments he made to start the opinion section.
I am not going into big detail here today but folks the budget committee meetings is where it all starts. Trust me, I get confused real easy when it comes to county and city budgets but I treated this like an algebra class. Miss one meeting and I might as well forget it I'll be lost the rest of the course.
The majority of people last night were not at any of the budget committee meetings. Trust me if they were they would have a great appreciation and full understanding as to how the budget appropriations were recommended along with the tax increase recommendation.

I also agree with the point that the commissioners should voice clearly what should be cut. Department heads have cut all they think they can operate on. They have done this for at least the last three budgets. Commissioners are the ones declining to pass the budget and although at the last budget committee meeting, the ones in attendance (7) were specifically asked if they could support the recommendations of the budget committee at the next commissioners meeting and the majority of them felt like they could. Apparently something changed and as a result the commmissioners need to step up each one individually and voice their concerns as to what areas need to be cut. I've heard time and again that expenditures need to be cut.
Be specific and tell us exactly what needs to be cut.
So I observed the commissioners meeting that got way out of hand last night and I ran this idea by a few people and I got some pretty good agreeable nods for it so let's go for it. August 31st on WBRY AM1540, FM96.7 from 8-9AM there's a open slot available on the After 8 talk program. I am personally going to call each of the 10 Cannon County Commissioners and try to schedule them to come in individually each time I have an open slot during the upcoming weeks. I want each Commissioner to have a chance to give their opinions about the budget and what they would cut if they were in charge of the entire budget process. I know some of the commissioners won't be able to make it due to work obligations but I'm hoping that most will be able to do so.
Friday September 2nd during the After 8 program, County Executive Mike Gannon will be on the radio and we will talk about the budget at that point to. So which Cannon County Commissioner will talk first? Let's find out August 31st on WBRY 8A-9A.
August 24, 2011 at 9:36pm
Kevin I understand some commissioners work in government. I also remember Kevin Mooneyham stating that when it comes to cutting spending for the Ambulance Service that he relied on Ricky Cope to make that decision because he understood it better. I applauded Kevin for having enough consideration and understanding of the Ambulance Departments budget to make that statement.

The department heads understand the day to day operations of their respective businesses. They understand what is most vital to the operation of that business as well. I doubt very seriously that we have more than one of the ten commissioners who understands what is most vital to continue uninterrupted service from our county jail for instance. And I doubt very seriously ten of them could make a decision on what money needed to be taken from the jail's budget that would not put the citizens of this county in danger.

That decision is why our tax dollars pays the salary of Darrell Young. I trust in his ability to make that decision more than I do the ten commissioners. I also trust in the ability of the other elected officials to make that decision as well.

They can’t make a decision on the tax rate without rescinding it, so my faith in their ability to decide what needs to be cut from each department is extremely low and with justification.
August 25, 2011 at 4:19am
Corey, I understand your points, but what you are saying can also be viewed in another way.

To the best of my knowledge Bill Bryson has long been a caring professional and a concerned Cannon County citizen. He has presented a budget for the current fiscal year to operate the Clerk & Masters office. I believe you would agree his budget proposal is an honest assessment of what his office needs. Said budget proposal has been reviewed by the five members of the budget committee over a dozen times. Now he has been told he really doesn't need the amount requested.

All things considered, were I in his position, I would demand that those people who say I don't need that amount tell me what I should cut.
August 25, 2011 at 6:19am
Perhaps the first run of those "DOUBLE OO DUMB" plates should be given to the county commissioners.
August 25, 2011 at 6:34am
Question: Who paid for the budget meeting signs that popped up around the county a week or so before the meeting on the 23rd?
August 25, 2011 at 7:43am
I need to become a renter sell my place with new taxes, higher home owners Insurance policies I could pay 2 months of rent for what property tax & Insurance would run me each year or Let the budget comittee figure out a way to tax renters and for the wheel tax to be enforced on the ones who choose to not to pay it, MMW must be a renter in the county with DOUBLE 00 STAMPED ON THERE FORE HEAD the budget needs to be all expenses from each office along with the budget from the county roads cost to maintain laid out in writing rather just a figure they need, commissioners are doing a great job if you give in this year they will be wanting more taxes the next year.
August 25, 2011 at 8:11am
I pay rent. If the person I rent from does not figure their costs, including property taxes, into the amount I pay, they are not a good business person. I doubt they are willing to eat the cost. The budget each commissioner has contains over 30 pages which lay out in writing what each department spends money on. I count approximately 1,000 line items.
August 25, 2011 at 8:20am
@Trailrider612 - Your statement about enforcing people to pay the wheel tax does not make sense. You cannot get your plates registered in the county without paying the wheel tax. But I have heard of cases were this counties office has not issued tags due to a problem with the title, and would not assist in fixing it. In turn those individuals have register those vehicles in other counties because they would help in fixing it which then takes our tax money out of county.

There are several issues that do need to be fixed in this county and one is transparency in several departments that are not. Federal, State and Local Governments are supposed to be transparent when it comes to their budgets. This is by law.

I am not pointing the blame for any of the issues in this county on any commissioner or county executive, the blame for the current issues are on the voters. I do remember that in the last election there was an opportunity for people to make a change, and the talk was all about how it was going to change, but when it came to the voting the decision was to keep the old in place. If you are not happy with how things are then use your power to make the change.
August 25, 2011 at 9:31am
More retail would be a big help to Cannon County. All efforts should be made to bring a small Wal-Mart close to the town. It’s rough supporting government with land and cars only. And remember this “rough seas make good sailors” the elected officials are most likely doing the best with what they have, just my 2 cents!!
August 25, 2011 at 9:50am
Kevin we will agree to disagree on that one point. I just struggle with the idea that we have less than five weeks to get this accomplished and the next meeting is not until September 3rd so getting those ten together to decide each departments budget when they really don't understand most of what is put in front of them is a stretch to say the least. And then you have to get them to agree on what needs to be cut.

Mike G. said he had a guy who could do the figures and come up with an amount that was needed to retain the current tax rate of $2.32. I think that would be easier if each department were told to come up with another 3% reduction in their budgets for example and submit them to the budget committee.

Perhaps if there was more time then your suggestion that the commissioners decide those cuts would be more feasible. I just don't see it at this point personally.

One thing I think we all agree on is it is time to stop the blame game and start the process of fixing the problem before it gets worse.

Also, you are right. All of those people who pay rent have the costs of land taxes figured into the rent they pay or their landlord is not very bright.

There are several reasons why people rent and bashing those people because they physically don't take money to the Trustee's office and pay land taxes is crazy. Everyone can't afford to own a home, but they do pay taxes in other ways. Be proud you own your home and have equity in real estate and worry about what you can do and stop complaining about what others aren't doing.

efisk dude you are spot on again as usual! Good comments and I think the most powerful statement made yet is your last sentence!
August 25, 2011 at 10:19am
When the new highway comes through the county and by passes the town we might get a mini wal-mart then along with a kangroo gas station.Woodbury will become a ghost town like Aburntown did when the 96 highway by passed them and then maybe a business or two will come in,when the shirt factories were here some elected officals and business men of the county fought to keep good paying jobs out and to protect the low paying jobs the shirt factory offered,money under the table,I remeber when people running for office here in the county handed out whiskey for votes like I've said times have changed and I believe are elected comissioners will do what is right.
August 25, 2011 at 10:28am
Corey, what reaction do you get when you say to your wife and mother-in-law that their respective budgets are 3% more than is necessary?

I would like to think our commissioners will do what is right, but am more inclined to believe at this point they will do what is politically expedient.
August 25, 2011 at 10:54am
I wish people in this country was as passionate about our countries budget as this stream shows Cannon County is about ours.

I hope that everyone is taking the chance to express their disgust with their Congressman or woman about our Federal Budget as they are here. Our economy is just not effected by our local government.
August 25, 2011 at 11:44am
Actually Kevin I don't talk about the budget with either one of them. I trust that both my mother in law and Bill Bryson know what they need to financially to run their departments. It is never a topic of conversation between any of us.

Also, I don't think they or any other department budgets are 3% more than what they need to run their office, I think that the commissioners are asking them to cut 3% out of their budgets in order to maintain the current tax rate we have.

And it was proven Tuesday night that our commissioners did and will continue to do what is politically expedient because they are governing with emotions vs. what is right and best for all.
August 25, 2011 at 5:59pm
After All There Is That Old Motto " It's Not What You Know It's Who You Know"
August 25, 2011 at 9:11pm
It has always been who you know here in Cannon County as long as i have lived here, all my life. Get in the know, if you can. good luck.
August 26, 2011 at 10:58am
Corey I would have to say that most of the 3% cuts that could be made would be in office supplies, mainly ink & toner. I know that buying ink & toner at Office Depot or somewhere like that can be expensive as most of the cartridges are $100 and up.

If you can get each department to consider other alternatives to buying OEM cartridges it could cut expenses the 3% being requested.

I am working with just a couple offices in our courthouse now for over a year and selling them recycled cartridges at an almost 40% cut in what they were paying. I am more than happy to talk to any of the other departments about this alternative to help cut their budget on ink & toner or even to see if I can help to find a way that will help them cut their total office supply expenses. There are many avenues that can be taken to reduce that budget line.
August 26, 2011 at 2:07pm
efisk I agree with the recycled toner & ink. I really figured that most departments would look at the office supplies first to reduce their budgets also.

I think charging people who come in asking to make copies a $1.00 a copy might help reduce some costs as well.

I also think the greener we can go toward becoming paperless the better also. But, I will let those people make those decisions.

Good idea and keep pushing the recyclables!
August 27, 2011 at 6:34pm
I had a friend at the budget meeting and she seem to come away with the impression that not everyone would be affected by the property tax increase. She said something about a "green belt" and said the tax increase would only be for people who owned 100 acres or more. Is this true or is the increase for everyone across the board?
August 27, 2011 at 7:57pm
The Agricultural, Forest and Open Space Land Act of 1976, known as the Greenbelt Law, allows certain land to be taxed based on its present use instead of the market value. Two or more separate tracts under the same owner may qualify if one is at least 15 acres and none is less than 10 acres, and if all are part of a farm. To qualify for greenbelt, farm property must produce an average annual gross farm income of at least $1,500.
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