County Anticipating Less Revenue Next Year

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Estimated revenues for the fiscal year 2012-2013 are lower than the estimated revenues ending in June of this year, according to figures shared with the Cannon County Budget Committee Thursday night.

The Committee, comprised of James Adkins, Bill Jennings, Commissioners Kevin Mooneyham, Tony Neal and Kevin George, and Chairman Mark Barker, took an initial look at the revenue picture and of the overall budget requests of the departments of the county.

County property taxes are extimated to bring in around $3,093,319.00 at the end of the next fiscal year, up slightly from $3,066,766.00. While figures were also slightly estimated up in revenue generated from Fines, Forfeitures and Penalities, and fees received from county officials, glaring differences were noticed in local revenues where Cannon County is estimated to bring in $107,000 less than what is estimated at the end of this fiscal year.  

Also the other big difference is that several state and federal grants will be dried up and not renewed.  Public Safety grants, Library Grants the big Homeland Security Grant that brought in $269,000 will not be available to the county during the 2012-2013 fiscal year.

The County recieved an estimated $726,000 from the State Of Tennessee. This next fiscal year they are estimated to get only $325,000 through various state awarded grants and revenues. Overall the County is estimated to bring in $5,511,686.00 at the end of the fiscal year ending June 30. However, the County is estimated to bring in only $4,785,000.00 in revenue at the end of the 2012-2013 fiscal year.

The Budget Hearings continue next Thursday. Now that it has a picture of the anticiated revenues, the Committee will looking over projected expenses. Next week it will review the budget requests of the County Executive's office, Buildings, Register Of Deeds, Property Assessor, Trustee, County Court Clerk and the Ambulance Department.  The meeting will take place at 6:00 at the Cannon County Courthouse.
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Members Opinions:
May 13, 2012 at 7:51pm
Well here we go again another year with no money to spare.
May 14, 2012 at 9:27am
Obviously the programs that such Federal and State grants funded in the past must first be looked at to determine their viability for future funding. Such funding would now have to be done at the local level to continue forward. As the Federal and State government trims and cuts, so must also our County government.
May 15, 2012 at 2:34am
Bonnie when Gannon and Barker presented that budget saying we would only have a $200,000.00 balance they were called on it by Budget committee meber Kevin George. George showed them where there was a million dollars in the fund that was not being used. This money needs to be used. We have money in Debt services also that will take care of the loans we have out. And an ambulance and a firetruck loan had been paid off this month that gives us more money to work with.We also have an A2 bond rating which not only saved us 63,718.30 a year as our bills are now, but the rating will give us the power not to have a normal interest rate, but a lower interest rate. Don't believe everything you hear or read until the budget is complete. I believe you will be pleased at what can be handled this year.
May 15, 2012 at 3:17pm
If we have a million dollars that needs to be spent then how about we:

1. Pay for a centralized accounting system so no one can try to pull the wool over our eyes and say we only have $200,000 balance.

2. Buy some land, build a building, create something that could entice industry to locate here which could create jobs and tax dollars.

3. Lower property taxes.

4. Give the county employees a raise since it has been 5 years since they got one.

5. Pay off debt.

These are just a few ideas on places the money could be used, I am sure there are many more.
May 16, 2012 at 4:41pm
As of April 30 there was $807,000 in the General Fund account.

According to the proposed budget for FY2012-2013, which includes the estimated budget for FY2011-2012, General Fund expenditures are approximately $500,000 per month this fiscal year.

Monthly General Fund revenue per month this fiscal year is approximately $460,000.

The General Fund ended the last fiscal year (2010-2011) with a deficit of $48,935.

The projected deficit at the end of this fiscal year is $450,600. The projected deficit for FY2012-2013 is $701,468.

The projected General Fund balance as of July 1 is projected to be $651,870.

From statements I have heard Mr. Barker and Mr. Gannon make in the past, it is desirable, if not prudent, to keep at least one month's of expense revenue in the General Fund account at all times, if possible, because some months of the year expenses exceed revenue, the amount of which varies from month to month.
May 17, 2012 at 8:27pm
Bob, It's great to hear your optimism and that our county finances are growing stronger. Doesn't the State recommend a certain percentage to be left in the general fund at the end of the year? Just one month's operating expenses seems far too low. Too much can happen in only a month's time. I suspect the state suggests having more like 3 months operating money carried over in the fund balance. It's a long time to the end of October when new property tax revenue comes in and even longer until the end of February when they are due. Is any of the money in the fund balance restricted to certain programs? If so, this would reduce the amount available for funding general programs or in pursuing various options as Corey has suggested.
May 17, 2012 at 8:56pm
According to what Commissioner George said at tonight's budget committee meeting, our county finances are not growing stronger. He mentioned the projected $450,000 deficit for the current fiscal year. He said property tax revenue is down even though 12 cents was added to the rate this year. Commissioner Hollandsworth theorized one reason that is so is because people are waiting longer to pay their taxes because of the economy. In response to a question from Commissioner George, Property Assessor Donald Preston said a 34-cent property tax increase would have been needed to avoid deficit spending this year. It was also mentioned that a penny of property tax is not bringing in as much as was anticipated when this year's budget was done. Commissioner George concluded by stating, "we don't have a spending problem, we have a revenue problem."
May 18, 2012 at 7:27am
Kevin, there are obviously contrasting views and interpretations regarding the county's financial situation. From comments posted above, we have the same commissioner indicating we have a million dollars left in our budget while at the same time indicating a deficit of $450,000 for the current fiscal year. Which is it? It can't be both ways. Who really does know our county's financial status? Is it stable so that we can share optimism toward the future or is it nearly bankrupt and citizens should begin bracing for tax increases to come?
May 18, 2012 at 7:42am
Bonnie, it appears that it is both ways, depending upon who you ask and when you ask. The picture never remains constant. Based upon my reading of the proposed budget for FY2012-2013, it is my opinion that citizens should be bracing for tax increases to come. If that is the case, whether that happens this year or next year is to be determined by the commissioners. It will be based on how much the commissioners spend, the anticipated revenue to cover expenses, and the amount of reserve funds.
May 18, 2012 at 12:33pm
It was my understanding from previous comments made that we could know the exact amount of money we had on hand in every single fund, department, etc. at a moments notice and that was one of the reason why some people were against the idea of a Centralized Accounting System.

It sounds more like the right hand has no idea what the left is doing and we are going to rob Peter to pay Paul.

Which is it? Can anyone say for certain we have X amount of dollars right now, today, at this very minute or is it something that would take a few days to figure out?
May 18, 2012 at 12:53pm
The Trustee's Office can give the amount of money in the General Fund account. The County Executive's Office can provide the year-to-date amounts and percentages of monies spent by each department.
May 18, 2012 at 3:23pm
If that is true then why does it "depend on who you ask and when you ask"? If two offices can give us all of the data then why the discrepancies?

Somehow, someway there is someone who doesn't know or there would not be so many different versions of how much we have, how much we need and who has it.
May 18, 2012 at 3:52pm
Your question was where information regarding the county's finances could be obtained. With respect to the General Fund, I gave two. Bonnie's question pertained to views and interpretations. Many people outside those two offices can provide views and interpretations, including members of the budget committee, the audit committee, the county commission and the state auditors.
May 18, 2012 at 4:15pm
Maybe, but that seems like semantics to me.

If the exact amounts can be obtained at those two offices at any moment then there should be only one interpretation and one figure.

Exact figures = exact information the way I look at it.

Exact figures do not = multiple versions of how much money we have or don't have.

Follow where I have drifted......?
May 18, 2012 at 4:30pm
Please see story "County's Bank Balances Goes To Extremes." Amounts on hand one day or spent one day, are different than the next day, week or month. Different people and entities often interpret the numbers and projections in different ways. For example, the CBO might interpret the federal budget one way, and the White House another.
May 18, 2012 at 5:21pm
I must say I am confused somewhat by the confusion.

If a person is paid on the first of the month, and pays bills on the fifth, their bank balance on the 10th will likely be vastly different than what it was on the first.

If a business sends out statements the first of the month, and only half of them pay during that month, their revenue projections for that month are going to be way off.

The next month, if all customers pay those month's bills in a timely fashion, plus the ones which didn't pay the previous month do so, more revenue comes in than what was projected.
May 18, 2012 at 7:45pm
I follow what you are suggesting that different days would have different amounts in your checkbook depending on the amount of revenue you have coming in and amount you have going out.

However, at all times I can tell you to the exact penny how much money I have in the bank. Just because my money is deposited and then taken out when I buy things does not make it impossible or illogical for me to know how much I have or how much I may need to cover my expenses.

Why should it be any different for any other entity or business or our county government.

All I have heard is how easy it is for us to know how much money we have at our disposal at any given time. Again, if that is true then there should not be different interpretations of the balance. To me that is confusing to say you know how much you have but different people can look at it in different ways.

To me either it is the amount or it isn't and it is either there or it isn’t. There is no in between.
May 19, 2012 at 3:07am
Tom gets paid and puts his check for $1000 in the bank. That day his friend Dick comes by, sees his checkbook and says "Tom, you're rich."

Dick leaves. Tom pays some bills that night.

The next day Tom's friend Harry stops by, sees Tom's checkbook which now has a balance of $100 and says "Tom, you're poor."
May 19, 2012 at 4:58am
One of the difficult aspects of budgeting for an upcoming fiscal year is that the numbers are based on projections.

For example, the school year is coming the an end. The school system must prepare a budget proposal based on the number of students it projects will enroll in August.

Let's say that number is 1,000. August comes around. Only 950 students enroll, meaning they will need less money. Or 1,050 students enroll, in which case they will need more money.

If the school board and county commission approve their budget estimating 1,000 students in June or July, and the final numbers are either 950 or 1,050, the numbers are the end of the fiscal year, 10 or 11, months later will be vastly different.
May 19, 2012 at 5:56am
Tom, Dick and Harry all knew exactly how much money was in the bank when each of them looked at the account.

The amounts may have changed, but there was never a time when any of them said "Tom you might have $10,000 or you might have $1000 or you might have $100, but I am not really sure”.

They all three were able to look at the account and say this is how much we have. The fluxuation of the amount changed but their ability to determine how much Tom had available in his account did not change.

There is no reason for it not to be the same in our situation.

Yes, the amount of money we have will fluxuate based off of revenue coming in or going out, but as I said before all we have heard is how easy it is to know how much money we have at all times and we don't need a Centralized Accounting System to determine it.

Now what I am hearing is it is hard to determine how much we have, everyone has different opinions when you look at the accounts, revenue changes cause us to not know the exact amount, etc.

As I have said before. When it comes to other people’s money there is always an excuse on why it is run differently than our own private bank accounts.
May 19, 2012 at 6:50am
Corey, go to Wayne Prater's office Monday morning and see how much money is in the bank. He will give you an exact figure of how much money is in the bank. That will be how much money the county has in the bank on that day.

I did that myself this past Tuesday. If I went there and asked this coming Tuesday, the amount of money in the bank could be 10,000 more, or 10,000 less, depending upon what has come in, and what has gone out. Based upon what I find out, my interpretation of the county's financial situation would be that it is either better, or worse, than it was the week before.

I went one step further last Tuesday and asked Mr. Prater if he could predict the amount of money that will be in the General Fund account as of June 30. He said no, because he has no idea of what will come in, and what will go out, between now and then. Again, if you look at the story I referred you to, some months of the year can start with a balance of $1.2 million. Others can start with a balance of $200,000.

The county never knows the exact amount of revenue it will received during a fiscal year when it formulates a budget. It does not know how much property taxes will come in during a given fiscal year. It does not know the exact amount of sales tax, or beer tax, or court fines, etc. It is always guesswork until the final numbers are in, which is always after the fiscal year is over.
May 19, 2012 at 9:59am
LOL I see you are getting in a wad.

You are talking about how much revenue may or may not come in.

I have asked if it is possible to know how much we currently have at this exact moment at this exact time.

Two totally different ideas and questions.

If you go to Wayne Prater and he tells you we have $10,000 in the bank on Tuesday and I go and ask him and he tells me it is $10,000 then it is absolutely impossible to come to any other conclusion. You can go back on Wednesday and he may say it is now $5000 and tell me the same, therefore it is still impossible to come to any other conclusion than it is $5000. It is no different from your own bank account.

I think I have said that about 10 times now.

I haven't asked you a single time to project how much we have or to forecast how much revenue will be coming in at any given point. I just simply wanted to know if someone could say this is our amount at the moment I asked. Once they give that amount, if it is correct, then two people cannot have different interpretations of it unless they simply don’t understand basic math or flat don’t know what they are talking about.

I am not real sure why that seems so hard to you.
May 19, 2012 at 12:06pm
Not hard at all. But the interpretations originally addressed, in response to Bonnie's question, have both everything and nothing to do with the amount of money the county has in the bank at any given time. Whatever figure is there only partially reflects the county's financial situation, at any given time.
May 19, 2012 at 12:36pm
Corey, as conscientious a citizen as you are, I assume you have voted in a number of Trustee elections. Did you not already know where you could go to find out the amount of money the county had in the bank at any given time?
May 19, 2012 at 1:12pm
Yes and no. Apparently there are two different places you can go according to you, but we may or may not know how much is in the account depending on who we talk to.

And as I veiw up, what I orignially thought this centered around was the question of multiple versions of how much money we have in the bank. I refer to Bonnie's 5/18 response.

I wasn't trying to start an argument. I just wanted to know if there was an elected official who could pinpoint how much money we have in the bank if asked.

Apparently it all depends on who you ask, on what day of the week it is and if the stars are all aligned.

May 19, 2012 at 2:00pm
There is not simultaneous coordination between the Trustees Office and the County Executive's Office. Employees or businesses who are given or sent checks don't all receive or cash them the same day. Tax payments, fines, fees, grants, etc., come in every day. Reconciling the two is an ongoing process.

It is no different than any business. At any given time the ledger of Accounts Payable at a widget manufacturer does not match the ledger of Accounts Receivable.
May 19, 2012 at 2:31pm
We dont know how much money we have because we operate on "PROJETED" revenue and not the actual amount of money we have in the "bank".This is why we run into defeciet spending because we constantly spend more than we take in because we spend our money before it is collected without accountability and until this practice stops we will never stop tax increases to cover deficeits. We as a people dont run our own checkbooks on projected earnings so why do we allow goverment to.
May 19, 2012 at 2:59pm
The county does not have a choice. The state mandates that it provides specific services. It's citizens expect it to provide certain services and provide certain facilities. The county can't stop providing the mandated services in February because it didn't anticipate enough revenue the previous June. The county can't stop paying people in September because it only has $200,000 in the bank and tell them they'll make it up in April when it has $1,200,000.
May 19, 2012 at 8:21pm
Now that is not necessarily true that we cannot stop providing mandated services because if the County Commissioners for example don't approve a school budget then the school system could be taken over by the State of Tennessee.

It is not true on a federal level either because the House of Representatives can very easily deny funding and shut the government down as was the case when Bill Clinton was in office.

Stang has is right that we have a very bad tendency to spend more than we take in.

And as he and I both agree on, no one runs their private bank account the way any government on a local, state or federal level runs it.

There is always an excuse when it is other people's money.
May 20, 2012 at 3:38am
Private bank accounts are for the most part replenished with the same amount of funds from one source every week, two weeks or month.

Government bank accounts receive funding from various revenue streams, of varying amounts, at different times. If a government's financial setup can be compared to anything it would be that of a business, not an individual.
May 20, 2012 at 5:58am
For the most part the income and expenses for individuals stays constant from month to month and year to year. However, if they make more they may spend more and if they make less or lose their job they will spend less.

Government's income and expenses see greater swings than that of individuals. When the economy is bad there is less tax revenue. Unlike a business, the government does not generate revenue from the services it provides. If businesses do not generate enough revenue to operate, they close. Yes, governments could shut down, but that is unlikely to happen.

It is not always possible to accurately project how much revenue a department will need. Earlier I pointed out the difficulty a school system has in doing so, because it does not know until a school year starts how many students it will have.

The sheriff is in a similar situation. Based on past history he or she predicts how many prisoners it will be necessary to house during a year. The sheriff budgets for food, guards, uniforms, toilet paper, utilities, etc., based on those projections. However, an increase in crime during the year or a change in laws that require mandatory jail time for certain offenses can cause that number to rise significantly, throwing the projections off. Or, it can be anticipated that no new patrol cars will be needed during the upcoming year, and one or more break down and are beyond repair. Under those scenarios, should the taxpayers provide the sheriff with more money, or should prisoners not serve time or deputies be taken off the streets?
May 20, 2012 at 6:22am
I think our point without belaboring it too much is when it comes to spending other people's money the government on any level does not treat it the same as they would their own account. They spend it freely, without worry and a lot of times without regard to how much is left in the account.

I completely understand the idea of fluxuating revenue and how it works and how it affects the ideas behind replacing a patrol car you used as an example.

However, budgets can be used to deceive and can be manipulated in a way that can be used as a scare tactic.

When a group comes before the Commissioners and says I need a 4 cent tax increase in order to maintain the services you want me to provide and they really have money in the bank and don't actually have to have that money it is in many ways deceitful.

I don't think it is wrong to hold the people who should know how much money is in the bank accountable to know at all times. They are the ones who asked to be in that position, get paid to be in that position and are the stewards of our money. They should be able to look at the different budgets that are set, determine how much money the budget actually has in it and report that back to anyone who asks for that information. There should not be multiple interpretations of that amount. It is what it is.

Determining if there is a shortfall or surplus and how you are going to replenish it if needed or spend it is an entirely different issue.
May 20, 2012 at 7:23am
There may be spending of money freely, without worry and without regard to how much is left in the account at the federal level, but there is not a lot of it at the state and local levels because those entities must balance their budgets and can't print more money or run up a large deficit.

The amount of money in an account is not what is open to interpretation. The amount is there and can be asked for or viewed at any time. What is open to interpretation is whether the amount signifies a good financial situation, or a bad one. That is where the projections come into play. One group may look at the amount and say "we have to have that money" because of what it sees as happening in the future at that time, and another group may say "no you don't" based upon what it thinks will happen. Until what happens, happens, no one knows for certain which group was more accurate in its forecast.

Finally, to use the example of the sheriff again, he or she can not operate their personal finances in the same manner they operate their department. In both cases they enter a fiscal year knowing what their revenue will be. The difference is that they have greater control over their personal expenditures than they do their departmental expenditures. If their personal car breaks down they may decide not to replace it because they have another one. If a patrol car breaks down they may have to replace it because there is not another one available.
May 20, 2012 at 7:53am
BTW, the issue of political deception is also subject to interpretation. One group may say if we cut spending granny will starve. Another group may say if we increase taxes businesses will employ less people. Both groups may be both right and wrong.
May 20, 2012 at 8:01am
Less revenue in our county, yet no Beer sales on Sunday.
Do we sell Lottery tickets on Sunday?
Kinda makes you go humm...
May 20, 2012 at 8:06am
The perception of deceit is in the eye of the beholder I agree. But, at the end of the day the money is either there or it isn't.

For me personally, if you say you need a 4 cent tax increase to continue providing services and you have $800,000 for example spread out in different areas that you are not using in your budget then there is a degree of deception in your figures on how much you truly need.

That is my own personal view, but it may not be yours.
May 20, 2012 at 8:35am
I would not form a view until I have had the opportunity to study the facts and figures, examine the information that was put forth, and discuss it with those who did so.

I would note that at one point last year the Budget Committee stated a 20-cent increase in the property tax was needed. The Budget Committee then cut that back to 15 cents. The Commissioners approved that increase, and then rescinded their vote. It was sent back to the Budget Committee and it eventually ended up being 12 cents.

When all that was being done the General Fund had enough money in reserves to cover projected expenses without any increase in taxes or cuts in services. (That would not be the case this year.)

Now, were both the Budget Committee and the County Commission being deceptive?
May 20, 2012 at 8:58am
The reason that changed from 20 to 15 to 12 was because of that very reason. Some suggested there was less money in the budget than was actually there.

That was proven incorrect in the Commissioners meeting and that was why it was recinded. The reason it was proven incorrect was because some Commissioners did not accept the gospel others were preaching and did a little fact finding. As I recollect there was heated arguments between several people and one person got removed from the meeting because of an outburst.

As I said before, it is either in there or it isn't and to suggest you need money when you actually have the money is a form of deception in my mind.
May 20, 2012 at 9:09am
"That was proven incorrect in the Commissioners meeting and that was why it was recinded."

Except now some of the same people who voted to rescind it are now coming to the conclusion that it should have been left at 20 cents - or higher. It was not proven incorrect, people just had different interpretations of the county's financial situation at the time.
May 20, 2012 at 9:21am
It was incorrect because we have not run out of money, services are still on-going and the money was there. What was orignially stated was inccorect and proven to be incorrect. I was there when Mark Barker stated the money was available to use, so unless you are suggesting he has a different story now then I stand by my statement that the money was available despite being told orignially that it wasn't.

Should we or could we have raised property taxes to 14 or 15 cents to ensure we had a surplus at the end of the year is another debate entirely.

It is my belief that had we planned for it in years past we would not have had to raise it very much at all. It is the same theory as the ant and the grasshopper.

But, no one wants to be the group who raises taxes and it is a very politically incorrect way of governing.

May 20, 2012 at 9:28am
Excellent discussion! Best I've seen in a long time concerning our county financial operation. 65stang made a great comment by indicating the use of "projection." Trying to stay on course is akin to trying to hit a moving target that changes daily and moves about radically. Both Kevin, Corey, and tngail make excellent points. Numbers are numbers. At any given point they may speak differently to those interpreting them. One may seek an optimistic interpretation of them or one may wish to interpret them negatively depending upon their personal agenda. Setting aside agenda's, however, is the task of those who must attempt to steer the county's budget process for the coming year. Reports provided by the Cannon Courier on the activities of this committee will allow us to see the unfolding developments and prepare for the potential outcomes to follow. This is a great service provided by our news media and one that greatly educates the citizens of the county.
May 20, 2012 at 10:07am
The only reason "we have not run out of money" and "services are still on-going" is because we have (had) a reserve fund. We should always maintain some funds in reserve.

Current projections for the current fiscal year are that it will end with a deficit of around $450,000 for THIS year itself. When June 30 rolls around that number will probably be less, but the year will still likely end in the red. The exact number will not be known until after that date, at least a month if not longer.

If the numbers prove to be reasonable and responsible projections, we do not currently have enough money in the reserve fund to cover all of the proposed spending for FY2012-2013 without eradicating the reserve fund, cutting services or increasing taxes. The General Fund would end FY2012-2013 over $500,000 in the hole.
May 20, 2012 at 10:35am
Thanks Bonnie. If Kevin and I go back and forth long enough we will solve all of mankind’s problems. LOL.

I agree Kevin that we need to keep money in reserves. That is actually what I was referring to when I suggested if we had planned on it years ago like we should have then we would take less of a hit in times like these.

Logically it makes sense to me that when (and I say that with all hope it is soon) we get out of this economic situation as a county, state and on a national level and if our current rate is $2.44 for example and there comes a day when we can lower that then we should. However, I would suggest lowering it a few cents at a time and building up the reserves to hold for future situations that may arise.

It is possible to lower taxes and build up your reserves at the same time. If the rate is $2.44 and we only needed $2.35 to fund our budget then lower it to $2.40 and bank the other 5 cents in reserves until you build them up. It becomes a win / win situation if you manage it like that.

Unfortunately, not many people see it that way. They want to cut until you bleed and then use the leeches to suck up the blood. I am all for cutting and lowering taxes, but we have to see the big picture unless we want to do as we did last year and probably will do this year and raise our taxes 12 to 20 cents due to lack of planning.
May 20, 2012 at 10:44am
To me it appears there was adequate planning until the economy turned south. Then our elected officials (politicians) became fearful of raising taxes. Part of that was fear of losing their position. I think that most of it was also concern over the added burden higher taxes would place on those they serve in an already bad economy.
May 20, 2012 at 10:52am
If we fail to plan then we plan to fail.

And it is everyone's job who controls the money to look toward what might happen if the econmy does go into the tank.

During our plentiful years we should have been preparing for our lean years. I think by definition that raising our taxes as we have had to last year and probably will this year is not adequate planning in my opinion.
May 20, 2012 at 11:09am
We did prepare for our lean years, because the economy went into the tank five years ago. I guess we could have planned for more lean years than we have had, but that would mean our property tax rate would be about 40 cents higher than it is now.
May 23, 2012 at 10:00am
Why not create a new poll on this website asking viewers whether or not they prefer continued county services through a tax increase or a cut back on services requiring no tax increase? It seems in general that citizens do not favor ever increasing taxes and they expect their elected voice (county commissioners)to represent their desire. If the commission is to truly reflect the desire of their constituency, then how do they oppose such a desire by supporting tax increases. Especially during a time when the economy is down and citizens are already being squeezed for every dollar earned. Increased gasoline prices, increased food prices, lack of jobs, etc. contribute to a family's lack of additional surplus revenue. When the family budget must be trimmed to survive, how will they perceive the county government asking for more money rather than making similar cutbacks in their own spending?
May 23, 2012 at 10:55am
I was thinking of such a poll this morning; however, didn't see much point to it for the reason you expressed - most people will always oppose any kind of tax increase, period.

Like individuals and families, the county too is being squeezed for every dollar it brings in. Higher food and gas prices effect schools and the sheriff's department as well.

I think there are probably things the county could do to trim some expenses and also to generate additional revenue. All elected official should always be looking for opportunities to do both.

Now in my third year of budget hearings, I don't see anything in the proposed budget that jumps out as me as wasteful spending. County employees haven't received a raise during that time. As I stated previously the state mandates that the county provide certain services. The only thing I can see that would make any real difference in expenditures would be to eliminate positions in the offices which provide them.

I also don't see a need for operating six elementary schools, but doing so seems to be the will of most people.

May 23, 2012 at 6:00pm
I 100% agree with your last statement Kevin.

I can't be sure but I believe the school budget was around $14 million dollars last year.

I still have an email somewhere from Barbara Parker where she explained to me that keeping each school open costs approximately $800,000 a year.

I get beat up pretty bad when I suggest it is time to change that system and close schools because people have sentiment and love for their respective schools. I understand that and I respect it.

However, the time has come when it is no longer feasible or fiscally responsible to keep a school open at a cost of $800,000 a year when the enrollment is 120 students K-8.

If you divide that up it figures to cost us over $6000 a year on each student. And if you look at the latest poll you will see that the majority of people don't believe we are giving our students quality education. There is no possible way we are giving those children a $6000 a year education.

Not to mention the fact that some of these schools are above 50 years old and we just keep dumping money into a system that we know is simply there because of tradition.

We have to govern and budget and spend and think about tomorrow. We cannot continue to disregard it. It is time the school board made some tough decisions and does what is best for the students and not what is just popular.
May 24, 2012 at 10:13pm
By Paul Alexander
May 24, 2012
Why is it when the citizens of Cannon County complains about taxes being raised,
the first words out of our elected officials mouth and our county paper is that the state
mandates the county provide certain services.
Would someone please list what services the state mandates the county to provide?
Kevin would it be possible to conduct a poll to see if the voters of Cannon County feels
we have a spending problem, or have a revenue problem."
My problem is it appears that we do not have the accountability to provide the voters
with correct information on the money issues the county has.
I feel that before our taxes are raised again each county department should have to provide
in writing how many employees they have and their pay rate.
Revenue brought in.
Line by line item for product purchased.
Inventory and cost of items in each department.
Voters if we do not hold our local officials accountable how can we hold State and
Washington officials accountable.

Paul Alexander
11784 Jim Cummings Hway
Bradyville, Tennessee 37026-9805
May 25, 2012 at 2:30am
Paul, the services the state mandates can be found in the Tennessee State Constitution and the Tennessee Code Annotated. Cannon County, like every county in the state, exists and operates as an extension of the State. The mandated offices (services) are every elected office in the county and schools.

Information on expenses, revenue and assets can be found in the budget for Cannon County.
May 25, 2012 at 6:39am
This is NOT a spending problem. This is a REVENUE problem.

I am all for frugal spending and audit committees looking at each department to ensure accountability in their spending and I am all for each elected official looking at their budgets to eliminate excess spending if possible.

HOWEVER, the money we need to fund the services we are required to have and expect to have will not come just from cutting 50 cents here or 50 cents there..

Let's list a few that everyone has come to know and expect to have: Ambulance Service, Fire Department, Sheriff's Office, School Systems, Road Systems, etc.

You cannot fund those departments simply by cutting the salary you pay a Sheriff's Deputy for example.

And on the back end who will you get to work in one of the most vital roles we expect to have when you pay them next to nothing to lay their life on the line to protect you?

Or your house is on fire and we have old and worn out fire trucks trying to help you because we have cut that budget to the point we can’t buy something worth having. Who would be the first to complain when that happened?

Revenue is the key to keep taxes at a lower rate and to help fund the services you want, expect and are required to have. Common sense logic should tell everyone here that the more industry you have, the more revenue you have, the more jobs you have, the less you have to pay on your taxes.

You can cut yourself to the point you do nothing but bleed and then have no one to help you stop it.
May 25, 2012 at 7:25am
"Common sense logic should tell everyone here that the more industry you have, the more revenue you have, the more jobs you have, the less you have to pay on your taxes."

Is there not another side to that? Will not more industry, more people, create the need for more services and additional expenditures? Not indicating I'm opposed to more industry, just wondering if there is a tipping point and, if so, where/what it is?
May 25, 2012 at 3:57pm
With a considerably high unemployment rate, would not local citizens be the first to be hired by new industry? Rather than more people moving to Cannon County for these same jobs? Maybe that is the tipping point. Reduce local unemployment first. Incorporate zoning regulations and made it more difficult (costly) for others to move to the county who would require a greater amount of services.
May 25, 2012 at 4:24pm
Not sure what you consider to be a "considerably high" unemployment rate. Cannon County's unemployment rate is 7.5 percent, lower than the state average of 7.8. DeKalb's is also 7.5, Warren's is 8.7, Coffee 7.6, Wilson's 6.3 and Rutherford 6.6. I have heard recently that one industry relatively new to the county complains that they can't find qualified workers locally.
May 25, 2012 at 4:39pm
Well if I had to choose between the problem of little to no revenue like we have now vs. too much industry causing us problems in our housing market, school system, more people eating at local restaurants, more tax revenue from the businesses and the taxes we take in off of the extra people then I think I would choose the latter.

I consider 7.5% considerably high as well, especially with the total amount of people living in Cannon County is said to be 13,801. That would put at least 1000 people out of work which is very high in my opinion.

REVENUE is the key. Without it then plan on forking over a lot more of your own dollars each year to pay for the services we must have.
May 25, 2012 at 4:44pm
The labor workforce is 6,590. The number of jobless is list at 500.

One of the complaints in Rutherford County during the last two decades has been that revenue from growth has not been enough to keep up with the additional cost of providing services.
May 25, 2012 at 5:00pm
LOL look at what the revenue has done for Rutherford.

How many new schools do you see? How many new roads, businesses, fire departments, ambulance services, etc. etc. have they built over the last few years? There is no way we can do that without revenue from businesses.

Sure there are pros and cons to both. But considering our tax rate is currently hovering around 24th out of 95 counties and Tennessee as a whole ranks number one for paying the highest property taxes in the country we need businesses to offset that.

I will say again that I would choose the latter vs. our current predicament. Either that or open your wallet and tell them to dive on in!
May 25, 2012 at 5:11pm
LOL look at the other side of the situation. Their sheriff is complaining that all the money being spent on schools is leaving him extremely underfunded.
May 25, 2012 at 8:38pm
Thats probably true, but has nothing to do with revenue from businesses.

Increase the revenue, consolidate schools and the Sheriff won't have as much to complain about will he?
May 26, 2012 at 3:36am
I hope new business and industry does decide to locate here.

Not sure how much industrial growth will occur in the near future because I think a lot of the decision-making process will involve the completion of the four-lane between McMinnville and Woodbury and then what is likely the eventual connection through Woodbury.

Don't see how the county is currently in a situation to do much to further the cause in that at this time it is running a deficit and doesn't have the money to engage in stimulus spending.
May 26, 2012 at 6:32am
I think there are several things the county can do that don't require a lot of spending.

1. You said there was a company now who was looking for workers inside Cannon County. Why wouldn't or couldn't the county help this company find workers. If they cannot find them inside then let's help them find them outside. More workers equal more money being spent locally on gas, food, etc.

2. Clean up and help make our existing buildings we have more enticing for a business to locate here.

3. Utilize the FastTrack project recently signed into law by Governor Haslam.

4. Pick up the phone. Call the people who can help like Mae Beavers, Mark Pody and the offices in the State of Tennessee who are designed to promote and help counties bring in industry.

5. Stop saying we can't. Stop saying we won't. And stop make excuses on why it can't be done and start working to make it happen. I believe we have people elected that get paid a lot of (tax) money each year to do just that.

None of those 5 things I just listed are or will going to cause the county to spend a lot of money. They just simply require EFFORT.
May 26, 2012 at 6:55am
It should not be necessary to pick up the phone and call Beavers or Pody. When they campaigned here in 2010 they said they would bring jobs. They made those statements without imposing conditions or requirements on the county. Where are those jobs they promised? I can't think of one thing either of them has done the last two years which has had a significant impact on the economy of Cannon County.
May 26, 2012 at 9:00am
It was attempted ,not long ago, to get our commissioners to examine the possibilty of imposining Impact fees to increase revenue, and like so many ideas, it slowly fizzled away. As with any new plan or idea ( impact fees have been used around the U.S. for decades) there will be pros and cons. Impact fees with construction/development restrictions, in my opinion, may curb growth but allows for controlled growth with increased revenue.

I may be part of the problem because I enjoy my rural life with the amenities of the boro just 16 miles down the road. I dont know about the rest of you but I dont want Cannon to become Rutherford. Their explosion of growth has been well controlled and still overwhelming and barely manageable.

I would also bet that 5 present of our population wouldnt work if you held their hand and lead them to a good job.

Back to the story, the problem wont be fixed before our services our without funds so property owners brace up for your next tax hike.
May 26, 2012 at 9:13am
Bud, back during the time I was the online editor for the DNJ, approximately 1996 to 2004, we had a "Corey-type" commenter whose big thing was impact fees. He was constantly harping they were not high enough to cover the cost of growth. Realtors didn't want them any higher.

That situation also illustrates how growth requires planning and setting the proper conditions, and not a spaghetti on the wall approach. Determing if the county is going to have zoning and land use plans, and what they will be, needs to be the first step in the process.
May 26, 2012 at 12:43pm
So now we have "Corey type" commentators. I wonder how we would describe a "Kevin type editor".

As far as Mark and Mae and their promise to help create jobs then I would strongly suggest you start in the office of County Executive and see how much has been done from that office to help them over the last 14 years. Considering your time in Cannon County equates to a whole three years you couldn't possibly understand how little has been done.

What you seem to forget or conveniently disregard is that office is and should be the beginning of the process of creating jobs. That is one of the main reasons that job has a $60,000 plus a year salary.

Look up the roles and responsibilities of a County Executive / Mayor and you will see that that job should work jointly with the area chambers of commerce to foster economic development and improve the overall efficiency of government across the county and to work with outside government agencies to help improve every aspect of local business.

I personally have pointed out the deficiencies in our overall plan to entice business as nothing more than something to read if you want to make yourself sleepy at night.

As I recall we had a Business Forum held on April 7th, 2011 where Mark Pody and Mae Beavers both were in attendance and Mark stood up in front of the County Executive and others present and pleaded for them to help him help Cannon County. He pointed out several things that the county should do to help improve our chances of enticing businesses to Cannon County to no avail. Were any of the suggestions he made followed up on by the County Executive’s office?

Mark was also in Cannon County last week making the rounds of businesses asking what was needed and how he could help. Where was the County Executive when that was going on? Mae was also in town last Saturday talking with the locals about jobs and things she could do to help.

You and I agree on a lot of things, but this is one where we part at the fork in the road. If this were any other department or any other role that we were talking about that continually showed this lack of interest in performing their job duties you would be posting polls and headlines every day.

"The Buck Stops Here" is the quote I remember seeing not too long ago. If that is the case then you should not be the one defending the lack of growth in Cannon County or blaming others for someone else's incompetence. As I also recall 14 years ago we were told the same thing that a change in the County Executive's role would bring new jobs as well. Where are those jobs that were promised?

Before anyone on any level can or will help us create industry or jobs in Cannon County we must have our own house in order. The evidence supports the procrastination in helping make that happen despite the glowing articles to suggest otherwise.
May 26, 2012 at 6:00pm
I guess when one has no record their party members have to point to they make excuses and engage in spin.

Mark was in Cannon County last week campaigning, nothing more. Mark didn't say when he was campaigning in 2010 that Cannon County has to do anything, he said he would bring jobs.

Cannon County had grown over the last 12 years. New business and industry have opened or located in Cannon County the last 12 years. The house is not out of order. The only thing you suggest is doing something more or different. There is no guarantee any of it will make any difference, it is only speculation.

As for working with area chambers of commerce, you might want to work on getting our county commission to work with ours. Three years I have seen Carolyn Motley come before them to ask for additional money, and every year she has come away with the same pitiful some of $50.

All that said, I am for doing something more or different. At this time I am not in favor of the county spending a whole lot of money on it, because it's just not there.
May 26, 2012 at 9:11pm
Kevin, Mark Pody is running unopposed.

So campaigning is not to hard at this point and had you been there walking with them I think you could have seen that. Why campaign when no one is running against you? That suggestion is reaching at best. Again, where was the County Executive when Mark was talking with the local businesses?

Mae was also here Saturday talking with people about jobs, businesses, laws that affect Tennessee, etc. and she is not running for re-election this year so what's your excuse for that?

As far as the Chamber goes two of those three years Carolyn has walked away with $50.00 the County Executive was Chairman of the Board so why didn't he do anything about it? Who has more influence?

And I would say that many people, along with the State of Tennessee begs to differ that the "house is not out of order" considering the state of affairs REACH was in and the numerous audit findings showing proof of it.

We were also promised a lot of things 14 years ago that have been nothing but a fart in the wind to what reality brought us.

Yes, I do propose we do more and different things because what we are doing obviously isn't working. And yes it is speculation on what might work and what might not. But, standing by with our thumb in our eye making excuses on why we can't is ineffective and stupid.

All of that said, I proposed five things that would cost the county little to no money. They simply take effort on the part of the people that can make a difference.
May 27, 2012 at 5:17am
Corey, all I need to do is look at the proposed budget for next year to come to the conclusion that the county's fiscal house is in order. The entire economy outside of Cannon County went into the tank five years and the current county executive managed to keep the county's finances above water. During that time there have been no county layoffs. There have been no cuts in services. Employees have not had to take pay cuts. The county has avoided those things the last three years because it had reserves the current county executive built up in the years prior to that. Were it not for all that, raises would not even by under consideration, including the 18 percent some are requesting.
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