Commissioners OK 12-Cent Rise In Property Tax Rate

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The Appropriations for the 2011-2012 Cannon County Budget were approved via a 7-3 vote in a special called session of the Cannon County Board Of Commissioners Thursday night at the Cannon County Courthouse.  

With the total estimated revenues for the 2011-2012 Fiscal Year being at $5,002,857 and the estimated expenditures for the county totalling $5,353,096. the county will dip into its fund balance and leave it estimated at the end of the current fiscal year $258,803.

Voting to approve the appropriations were Mark Barker, who also made the motion to approve.  Clint Higgins who also seconded the motion, Jimmy Mingle, Todd Hollandsworth, Kevin George, Tony Neal, and Kevin Mooneyham also voted to approve.  

Voting against approval were Commissioners Russell Reed, Jim Bush and Bob Stoetzel.

Raising the Property Tax Rate by 12 cents to help fund the budget was approved also in a 7-3 vote.

The tax rate going into this fiscal year was $2.32. The new tax rate will now be $2.44  on each $100.00 of taxable property.

General Fund will receive $1.33.

Solid Waste/Sanitation $.18.

General Purpose School Fund was raised 1 cent yot $.90 1/2.

General Debt Service 0.020

Jimmy Mingle made the motion to approve and Clint Higgins seconded the motion. Also voting to approve were Todd Hoillandsworth, Kevin George, Tony Neal and Kevin Mooneyham. Voting against approval were Commissioners Russell Reed, Jim Bush and Bob Stoetzel.
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September 16, 2011 at 6:18am
I see 7 comissioners that will need to go this next election I'll do my part to help them out the door as the old saying goes the poor gets poorer and the rich gets richer....
September 16, 2011 at 6:44am
Yeah, there sure are a lot of "rich" deputies, teachers and clerical personnel working in Cannon County. If they were any wealthier those with families might make it above the national poverty level.
September 16, 2011 at 6:52am
Should have been 20 cents-- schools and law enforcement agencies getting the lion's share.
Short sightednesses not to look to the future.
September 16, 2011 at 8:58am
I am not rich and I do pay property tax. BUT, there comes a time when things do have to change for the ever changing economy. If it takes a tax increase to keep schools going forward not backward, I will pay my share. You have to run the county on something. Services are not handed to you for free. The county can not operate on an out-dated budget from years ago.
September 16, 2011 at 9:28am
Here is my question and Kevin maybe you can help with this. I need to understand what went on last night.

Kevin George stated that they the copy of the School Boards' budget that they had and voted on was with the additional $0.04. They had not presented the revised budget with the revised $0.01. It was stated they did not have to present that budget because they were not approving it, but it was still stated in the county budget. When a state official was asked if this is correct he stated and I quote "It is illegal to vote on this budget at this time."

Kevin Mooneyham asked for a ten minute recess to investigate this. When he comes back he says from what he is reading they did not. Many at that meeting last night said that he was wrong and it was not to be voted on.

What I want to know is what is the T.C.A. Code number that Kevin looked at versus the code the State Official was looking at?

After last night I feel this is a question that needs to be clarified. It seemed that a lot of people did not know this answer and it became a pretty heated debate amongst our commissioners, as well as, several concerned citizens.
September 16, 2011 at 9:47am
efisk, I can't help, because Keith Ready covered the meeting for us, but I will ask him when I see him, or he may respond if hje reads this.
September 16, 2011 at 10:31am
Teachers need a raise it takes a college paid education to get were they are at, and it takes money to run the school system, but as far as deputies and so on they are making good money for just what there job calls for...
September 16, 2011 at 10:31am
Are you saying that the school budget was not done legal! oh my oh my oh my!!!!
September 16, 2011 at 11:01am
Before increasing taxes, our county government need to reduce it wasteful spending. This county wastes more money than it spend on what is truly needed, like better roads instead of fixing up a old school building on Water Street that need to be condemn.
September 16, 2011 at 11:31am
County Commissions only have the authority to approve the tax appropriation for a school's budget. Therefore the budget that was submitted to the county reflected a 4 cent increase only because that is what the schools requested. The budget committee voted on a one cent increase and submitted it to the commissioners for approval along with the rest of the funding recommendations of the property tax increase. The commissioners have no say whatsoever in what the schools pay their employees, shell out for supplies, mileage whatever. The commissioners pass the amount given through the schools portion of the property tax and the schools use that money along with the state appropriations to balance out their own budget. For example a one cent increase equals $20,000. The schools could use that $20,000 to put in the line item of a teacher or they could put it in a line item of travel expense, or they could (and most possibly will) spread it out amongst the various line items of their budget. The commissioners can't tell them where to put that $20,000.
The next step in this process is that the school board votes to approve their budget with the final commission approved appropriation and submits a copy of it to the Commission basically for their records.
The County is responsible for 20 percent of the Schools budget while the State picks up the majority at 80 percent. One of the reasons for the 4 cent request was that the State cut a good portion of the budget that equalled up to $300,000 which was salaries for teachers. The Schools were attempting to find some way to make up some ground for that particular cut as teacher positions were on the line. Obviously we know what happened with that.

As for the reason why this was not stated in the article, the County Commissioners were meeting to approve the appropriations and the funding of those appropriations. The issue of the schools presenting a final budget in the packet was irrelevant as the Commissions can not vote on their budget itself just the appropriations.
I will look up the code number of the TCA Code and present it in an article for the paper on this website on Friday the 23rd. The School board meets on the 22nd at the Central Office to vote on the approval of their budget.
September 16, 2011 at 11:44am

Thank you for trying to help clarify this. I understand what you are saying, but after last night it just seemed like this was a looming question for most of the ones present.

Although Kevin read the code it would have been helpful to have gotten the code number in order for others to have the opportunity to look it up at their leisure as it seemed that what he was reading and the state official was reading did not match up. I feel our county has paid out enough in lawsuits due to the budget and if this could cause an issue with what went down last night it could cost the county citizens more money.

September 16, 2011 at 12:28pm
efisk, to the best of my knowledge the county commissioners do not vote on the schools' budget. They vote on how much money they allot to the schools based on the property tax rate. The school board votes on the allocations of the schools' money, most of which, as Keith pointed out, comes from the state. The schools could simply present the commission with a number, with no explanation or listing of expenses/revenues, which the commissioners could either accept or reject. The state also mandates that the county provide a certain level of funding as it did the previous fiscal year.
September 16, 2011 at 12:45pm
efisk, Commissioner Mooneyham has been kind enough to send the code he read. It is: T.C.A. 49-2-203.
September 16, 2011 at 12:47pm
Thank you for explaining that once again.

My statement was simply what I noticed from the meeting and comments made afterward.

If you have transparency within the government and the meetings you will not have people still asking questions (at least those that attend the meetings).

I know what they said last night about the school board voting on the budget and the commission gets a copy once it is done, but as I stated before their was confusion not just among the citizens present and listening to what was going on but also by county commission members.

As you were not present at the meeting you may want to watch the video that Kim Davenport has posted on her Facebook page so that you can see what happened at the meeting last night.
September 16, 2011 at 1:20pm
Thank you Commissioner Mooneyham.
September 16, 2011 at 5:54pm
10% unemployment nationally, a construction industry that is living on life support, gas prices stable at 250% higher than 10 short years ago causing food prices to reach all time highs....I know, LET'S RAISE TAXES!
September 16, 2011 at 6:17pm
I guess it's cute to be flippant about it, but if you don't want to raise taxes, you have to LOWER SERVICES. There were 16 meetings at which the public could have gone to the budget committee and told them what services to cut. I am not aware of anyone who did, although I wasn't physically present at all of the meetings.
September 17, 2011 at 2:32am
It is obvious that some folks were not as informed as they could be if they want to interfere and ask questions with the budget process.

I am SO glad they are starting to be involved! It is also obvious that some folks WANT to be. I want to advise all that want to continue on this to continue to be involved and come to all the meetings you want to!

I love to see folks there. HOWEVER I would appreciate it if you have questions about the budget and the commission, that you ask YOUR Commissioner FIRST..So that they can explain to you your questions and if they do not explain to your liking or understanding that then and ONLY then you come to the full commission and interrupt a meeting and ask questions.

If you do not follow this procedure you are actually bypassing the way county government is set up. If you don't understand that I would suggest you should study and understand how a Democratic Republic is set up.

It is more productive to suggest things that help and show how to move forward. It is surprising to see those that have no constructive criticism comment and I for one will ignore your non-constructive criticism.

Thank you very much.
September 17, 2011 at 6:01am
Seems everbody wants more services and better things but for some reason think they should'nt have to pay for any of it, maybe the money for these things will just fall out of the sky.
September 17, 2011 at 8:41am
The trouble with constructive criticism is that not all people are receptive to it. They may either feel their self-esteem shrinking under criticism, or they may feel that all criticism is negative. This can destroy the intent of any constructive criticism being offered.

I believe that is the situation with the Cannon County Commission, and for that matter the sheriff. I have witnessed constructive criticism offered by attendees and in fact I have offered constructive criticism personally which appears to have fallen on deaf ears. It is very difficult to offer constructive suggestions when the decision maker responds to inquiries with, “I don’t want to talk about it”. It is difficult to offer constructive criticism when it is all but impossible to understand what truly motivates the decision maker. What are his/her motives? Is it concern for the people of the county? Or are their motives all wrapped around a personal vendetta?

I really do appreciate the personal opinions of each and every commissioner. However, personal opinions reinforced by biased and uneducated information along with downright cronyism have NO place in our democratic society. Disrespect for a higher governing body rather it be executive, judicial or legislative is also out of line. It has become obvious to me that several of our commissioners and the sheriff either do not understand the law, or are willing to violate the law and trample on our Constitutional rights for their own self service or egos.

So I try one more time with some constructive criticism: Follow the law; work in the best interest of the people, protect the individual rights of the people and do not engage in cronyism. All reasonable constructive thoughts that if followed by all would silence me.
September 17, 2011 at 9:41am
"It has become obvious to me that several of our commissioners and the sheriff either do not understand the law, or are willing to violate the law and trample on our Constitutional rights for their own self service or egos."

Well Jim, if it was that obvious, why do you not state what laws it is you think they don't understand, they violated, or what Constitutional rights have been trampled.

You might also address whether you feel that way because of your own "self service and ego."
September 17, 2011 at 11:58am
Kevin if you wish to rehash the past let’s start at the top with the night we took oath of office and work forward to Thursday night.

The deliberate interference with the proper oath of office administered to the constables (sheriff) TCA 8-10-108,

The January meeting of the commissioners was in violation of the Open Meeting Laws (commissioners) TCA 8-44-103(a)(b).

There has been a willful disregard for the office constable by a majority of the commissioners and the sheriff which undermines the intent of the Tennessee General Assembly who establishes the qualifications of the office and usurps the power of the voters who elected them. (commission and sheriff) Tennessee Constitution and TCA Title 8 Chapter 10 and 39-16-402. Official misconduct

Also under the aforementioned, the 'arbitrary and capricious pursuit of a resolution to remove the law enforcement powers of constables while raising taxes to support an increase in manpower for the sheriff makes no economical sense. Considering the motives of the commissioners -- 39-16-402. Official misconduct

The improper prohibition of weapons from the county commission meeting by citizens authorized to carry them and the unlawful search of every person by law enforcement officers that entered the room. (county executive, commissioners, sheriff and deputies) TCA 39-17-1359; U.S. Constitution, 2nd and 4th Amendments and 39-16-402. Official misconduct

Denying entry to the county commission meeting to a law enforcement officer authorized to be armed who was wanted to address the commission about the budget issue. (sheriff, sheriff deputies) TCA 39-17-1350; U.S. Constitution, 1st, and 2nd Amendments, Chapter 44 of title 18, United States Code, 39-16-402. Official misconduct
September 17, 2011 at 2:17pm
Jim, do Cannon County constables meet the following criteria?:

Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-17-1350 (2011)

39-17-1350. Law enforcement officers permitted to carry firearms -- Exceptions -- Restrictions -- Identification card for corrections officers.

(d) For purposes of this section, "law enforcement officer" means a person who is a full-time employee of the state in a position authorized by the laws of this state to carry a firearm and to make arrests for violations of some or all of the laws of this state, or a full-time police officer who has been certified by the peace officer standards and training commission, a vested inmate relations coordinator employed by the department of correction, or a vested correctional officer employed by the department of correction, or a commissioned reserve deputy sheriff as authorized in writing by the sheriff, or a commissioned reserve or auxiliary police officer as authorized in writing by the chief of police.
September 17, 2011 at 2:44pm
Yes - "For purposes of this section, "law enforcement officer" means a person who is a full-time employee of the state in a position authorized by the laws of this state to carry a firearm and to make arrests for violations of some or all of the laws of this state" Constables,marshalls and the sheriffs fall under that part. We are all elected by the people to make arrests for violations of the law.
September 17, 2011 at 3:02pm
I guess it is all a matter of interpretation Jim, since "elected" and "employed" are two different entities. To the best of my knowledge no constable in Cannon County is paid, either on a full or part-time basis, by the state, by the county, or by the town, as a "law enforcement officer." Sheriff's are paid, as are judges, court clerks, judicial commissioners, county executives, etc. and even county commissioners receive compensation. Nothing in state law I can find addresses compensation for constables.
September 17, 2011 at 3:34pm
Constables are paid. The office is a fee office. We don't punch a timeclock, but neither does the sheriff. In fact most of our elected officials in Cannon County actually put in less than 40 hours a week. All are full time.

We just spent 8 months discussing the law enforcement powers of constables in Cannon County and how to remove them and the Tennessee Assembly just made extra effort to protect our law enforcement powers to the end of our term.

The law we are discussing is a little confusing, but legislative intent is very obvious, Cannon County Constables are law enforcement officers which are also covered under Chapter 44 of title 18, United States Code which is the Law Enforcement Safety Act (LOSA).

Federal court has even ruled that off duty Coast Guardsmen are law enforcement officers protect under LOSA. Tennessee Constables with LE powers have a right to be armed under Tennessee Law at all times with few exceptions and anywhere in the United States under Federal Law (LOSA) which supersedes all state laws --
September 17, 2011 at 3:43pm
So Cannon County Constables receive a check from Cannon County Government? And they are considered full or part-time employees by common standards?

Also, please reference the TCA code giving Tennessee Constables a right to be armed at all times with few exceptions. I have looked at all of the TCA codes with respects to constables and did not see it. Also please reference to federal law.

One more question: Are any Cannon County Constables of them POST certified in the State of Tennessee?
September 17, 2011 at 4:22pm
Kevin, I'm not sure why you are belaboring the point, the answers to your questions can be found in the law we have been discussing. Reread it. For direction I suggest that you research the Tennessee Attorney General Opinions and maybe pay an attorney to help you out. For whatever reason, you obvious want to continue to doubt me, but that is fine. I really do understand.

I would like to say “trust me”, but I won’t bother nor will I continue to exchange with you offering you direction only to have you come back with “well, I guess it is a matter of interpretation” That is a true statement but it isn’t our interpretation that is important.

We have a system of government that has determined constables have law enforcement powers. If you don’t get it, you just don’t get it. I’m sorry, but have Honey-do things to do before I get in trouble so I have to bow out of the discussion.

Good luck – I will help you research the issue if you are truly looking for answers and not just looking for another reason to support your belief that constables should not have law enforcement powers. We have agreed to disagree on the matter – I respect you opinion but I just happen to be the expert in the subject of law enforcement so it makes it difficult for me to understand where you are coming from in your opinions.
September 17, 2011 at 4:24pm
Jim, sorry for all of the questions, but you've given me a lot to think about today.

There is no question that at the present time constables in Cannon County have law enforcement powers. What is not clear to me, from reading the T.C.A. codes, is who or what gives them the authority to EXERCISE said powers? From reading the codes, my view is they have to be assigned some task or duty by a sheriff, a court, or a county commission before they can do so. What am I missing?
September 17, 2011 at 4:31pm
Jim, would have appreciated an answer to the POST-certified question, because it would be an easy one to answer, but you are right, I should direct these questions to the Tennessee Attorney General, and I will.
September 17, 2011 at 4:43pm
To get back to the subject at hand.

@toddh: your idea is with merits if this was not "Cannon County" and if "it has not always been done that way"

It appearsas if some on the board tend to get aggravated when questioned on the budget by your "more informed" citizens of this county who do seem to know something about the budget or even TCA regulations. Case in point is a state official when asked if what was done Thursday was legal or not. His answer was not liked, and the commission followed thru anyway.

I do agree more need to be involved, but I am afraid that since the budget meetings are over it will be business as usual.
September 17, 2011 at 5:29pm
Sorry Kevin I guess I didn't focus on that question maybe because it isn't relevant to the discussion. No -- none of the Cannon County Constables are "Tennessee" P.O.S.T. certified. We are exempt by Tennessee law.

Again, I speak with authority because I have been there and done that --- there is little difference between most states regarding criminal law and police procedure. Constitutional law is the same throughout. Although Tennessee officers spend less time in the academy than most states, there is little difference between the subjects taught. I have been P.O.S.T. certified in multiple states all of which exceed Tennessee’s requirements for P.O.S.T. certification. You can look up the curriculum in the Tennessee P.O.S.T. rules and compare them with other states

I believe two other constables have some law enforcement experience and training but I can’t answer for them --- But again, 130 Tennessee legislators have determined that we don’t need to be P.O.S.T. certification. In my expert opinion, If constables are not being dispatched as the lead officer to calls, I agree with the legislators but it helps.

Buy the way. We have at least one deputy maybe two that are also not P.O.S.T. certified in Tennessee or any other state for taht matter and an AG Opinion says that they should be Tennessee P.O.S.T. certified for the specific job assignment they are handling ---- Where is the concern with that?
September 17, 2011 at 5:55pm
Jim, the POST-certified question had to do with the carrying of firearms by law enforcement officers, and how POST defines a law enforcement officer.

When I read the definition (at the POST web site) of what POST considers to be a law enforcement officer, I run across the following wordage which leads me to believe constables are not considered law enforcement officers by POST:

"...and who is employed by any municipality or political subdivision of the State of Tennessee..."

As for the concern about deputies, I would need specifics to have one. I do know that deputies, including court officers, have been attending training lately, and have been limited in the number of hours they work, because of questions I ask and observations I make when covering court.

As I said, I know Tennessee law gives Cannon County Constables law enforcement powers. I am unsure as to what law gives them the authority to exercise those powers, and under what circumstances.

As an observation, I guess there is no way to determine if elected officials or bodies acted or are acted improperly, because it does seem as though one of the issues at hand in this thread is the assertions that they did, but no willingness on the part of those making the assertions to follow through so that some authority can say for certain if they did, or did not.
September 17, 2011 at 6:46pm
Just so it is clear on my part.

I am not making any assertions. I am merely pointing out what was not stated in this article. I thought that the idea of having the threads on the article was to be able to have both sides represented or help fill in missing information.

All I want from our government is the following of proper procedure and if there is question a proper answer. I would expect as a non-bias newspaper you would appreciate that.
September 17, 2011 at 7:00pm
"If you have transparency within the government..."

"All I want from our government is the following of proper procedure..."

If those are not assertions, what are they?
September 17, 2011 at 8:51pm
Those are statements.

An assertion like you state is more like saying that everybody in the comission or legislative body is a bunch of crooks and are not looking out for anybody but themselves. Those are assertions that cannot be proven.

I have never stated that as I said before I had questions about what was clarified. I got the answer I wanted and I stopped until you accussed me of making assertions I could not prove. Further more I feel that the more you make statements like that from something you misread in to makes me feel you are not as non-bias as you should be.
September 17, 2011 at 8:58pm
"Further more I feel that the more you make statements like that from something you misread in to makes me feel you are not as non-bias as you should be."

That's fair. I was beginning to feel the same way about you.
September 17, 2011 at 10:02pm
Let the citizens of Cannon County vote on new taxes not ten dummies......
September 18, 2011 at 7:54am
dont know the laws but less guns in the room cant be a bad thing

the citizens of cannon did vote and picked these ten 'dummies'

also if you dont like this tax raise be ready for one next year (actually less) because this band-aid is already wet

September 18, 2011 at 12:47pm
Everyone needs to attend a Commissioners Mtg. You would then realize what kind of leaders you have elected!! It is a sad day to trust some of these "Leaders" with running our county. I sort of agree with trailrider612, the three that voted against the increase need to be replaced and also some of the other seven. County services have to be properly funded. .12 is not enough.
James Adkins
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