County Executive Nixes Two Taxes

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Cannon County Executive Mike Gannon has issued his first vetoes in his 10 years in office.

Gannon vetoed legislation passed by the Cannon County Commission in May increasing the county's Litigation Tax and one which enacted an Archive fee.

The County Commission passed both resolutions unanimously, and will have the opportunity to override Gannon's vetoes when it meets on June 12.

The Litigation Tax increase was passed by the County Commission to cover the cost of the raise in salary for the county's General Sessions Judge. Gannon said he decided to veto it because "a fee is a code word for tax."

Gannon went on to say revenues from General Sessions Court have decreased this year, and he thinks the Litigation Tax increase is one of the reasons.

"I did some research and what may look good on the front end is costly us a lot more on the back end," Gannon said. "Many businesses and people have told me they have stopped suing people for relatively small amounts of money because the cost of taking them to court is so high."

Gannon said he thinks the increase is court costs are also creating additional costs at the Cannon County Jail.

"What is happening is people in jail are doing what is called 'flattening' their sentences and staying in there longer, which means we are getting less revenue from fines and fees being paid because if they stay in jail they don't have to pay anything," Gannon said.

With respect to the Archive fee, Gannon said he vetoed that after he received feedback from other elected county officials.

"It is still an additional tax and they think people are already paying enough for that (service), and that the increase will cause less businesses and people to file important documents with their offices."

The purpose of the Archive fees imposed by the County Commission is to raise money to pay for additional storage space for records county offices must maintain.

"I think the need for additional room for storage has been somewhat exaggerated," Gannon said. "Plus, I think there are possible solutions to that problem which wouldn't involve an additional burden on the taxpayers."

Gannon said these were his first vetoes because previously he also served as chairman of the commission and if there was an issue he had a vote to break a tie.

After he was asked by The Cannon Courier why he vetoed the aforementioned legislation, Gannon also addressed another item on the agenda for the July 12 commission meeting, which is "a motion to require that the county attorney reside inside the county for expedience and accessibility."

The current county attorney is Mike Corley of Smithville.

"We have a great county attorney," Gannon said. "I have 100 percent confidence in him and I know he has answered many questions and done a lot of research without charging the county. I find it totally irresponsible for someone who doesn't even have to answer to lawsuits to be concerned about who the county attorney is.

"Not one time have I had difficulty getting on touch with Mr. Corley. I have always found him to be reachable when I need him."

Gannon also said that in some ways it helps that the county's attorney does not have a residence here.

"That way they have an arms-length from local politics, and they are able to give a more objective opinion."

Gannon added it is important the county have an attorney that someone in his position is comfortable working with.

"No matter what department in county government gets sued, all lawsuits go through the county executive's office and the county executive is named as a defendant. It is very important I have someone I have full confidence in, someone who will tell me what I need to hear and not what they think I might want to hear,  because I am the one who has to work with him concerning other department's lawsuits."

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June 07, 2012 at 10:26pm
In my opinion there were several things that were conveniently left out that the public should know concerning the vetoing of the Litigation Fee and the Archive Fee.

County Executive Mike Gannon vetoed a Litigation Fee that would help relieve the burden of property owners paying for a State of Tennessee mandated increase in the salary of the General Sessions Court Judge.

Despite the statement that “a fee is a code word for tax” as suggested by County Executive Mike Gannon, a “fee” is by definition is a payment of a professional service.
A “tax” is by definition an amount of money levied by a government on its citizens and used to run the government. It is reoccurring and is not determined on if you utilize a service or not.

The salaries of the elected officials and Judges are set by the State of Tennessee and our County Commissioners are bound by law to pay those salaries. The money to pay for them does not grow on trees and we must provide the revenue by either fees, taxes or through industry revenue payments. A Litigation Fee is paid for by people who use the court systems and is the most effective and simple way to pay for that cost.

The Archive Fee is a fee to help offset the costs of storage that despite the misconception and belief that "the need for additional room for storage has been somewhat exaggerated” as County Executive Gannon would have everyone to believe. If the need has been so exaggerated I would ask why there is so much storage in the old jail across from the courthouse today.

In today’s society the need to keep documents has risen to a new level of expectation. Cannon County is no exception to that rule and with the amount of cases on the rise each year in the judicial system and all of the other offices in the courthouse something must be done with those documents that are required by law to be kept. We cannot afford to go “green” and do paperless documents, so why would we not want to impose a fee on the people who utilize those documents and cause us to store them?

I would also ask why the County Executive did not use his veto power over the previous years when fees have been placed before and passed by the County Commissioners that he was Chairman of the Board? I can think of one in particular that went from $15.00 to $50.00 to offset costs at the jail. It is a litigation fee as well. Where was the outrage, concern or the veto for that increase?

I would also ask if there will be concern or outrage by the County Executive if the Commissioners vote to place an increase in the sales TAX on the ballot in the November election? That TAX (and not a fee) will certainly affect many more people than either the Litigation Fee or the Archive Fee ever will.

The burden of paying for these costs should not rest entirely on the backs of the property owners. Vetoing fees to help offset the costs we incur is using bad judgment and ignoring the fact that the money must come from all of us who own property if not from the fees.

In reality you could live in Cannon County your entire life and never pay the Litigation Fee or Archive Fee. However, if you own property in Cannon County you are required to pay property taxes.
June 08, 2012 at 9:16am
Well how "convenient" it is that the Chairman of the Cannon County Republican Party lets people know he supports increases in taxes and the creation of new fees.

How "convenient" of him to forgot one of the mantras of the Republican Party, that increasing taxes and fees can be counterproductive, thus leading to the collection of less taxes and fees. I'll be sure to keep his position in mind when the Bush Tax Cuts are set to expire.

How "convenient" it is of him to claim that vetoing taxes and fees is "bad judgment" without providing documentation supporting his conclusion.

How "convenient" it is for him to support legislation increasing a tax without providing a fiscal summary.

How "convenient" it is of him to support an increase in the Litigation Tax to help pay the cost of the state mandated raise of the general session judge, and not just as conveniently call for an increase in the fees for license plates, marriage licenses, businesses licenses, etc., to help pay the state mandated raise for the county clerk.

How "convenient" of him to support a new "Archive" fee without doing a study documenting the need for additional storage, the amount needed, and one which provides the taxpayers information as to what the cost of doing so will be and what options are available for providing the space.

How "convenient" is it to rule out a "green" solution to document storage without a study having been done to determine whether it would or would not be a viable solution.

How “convenient” of him not to know that a county executive who also serves as chair of the county commission does not have veto power over legislation. How “convenient” that he thinks it would not be asinine for the chairman of the county commission who also serve as county executive to introduce legislation that he would likely veto if he could.

Now that we have the Chairman of the Cannon County Republican Party "conveniently" providing all of this information and solutions to problems, we can "conveniently" do away with the positions of county executive and county commissioners, and let him handle everything, even though the Chairman has never run for county executive or county commission, never served as a county executive or county commissioner, has no training or education in their duties and responsibilities, and has no experience serving in those capacities.
June 08, 2012 at 4:41pm
Not a matter of convenience than it is common sense. I do agree with you Kevin, if it could be carried out non-intrusively to normal operations that a study for some form of electronic storage, or "green" as you would say, could be achieved with little to no harm to the county.
June 08, 2012 at 5:16pm
Very well said Mr. Halpern. Who watches the watchmen? Well today it was you.
June 09, 2012 at 1:53am
I can't understand why you solicit comments and or opinions from the readers Kevin and then blast them for their comments that they submit. We get more of your comments than anyone in Cannon County. That seems to be counter productive in getting your readers to respond. It is a wonder that you can get the paper out in time.
Bob Stoetzel
June 09, 2012 at 5:11am
The better question is why is the Chairman of the Cannon County Commission seeking to raise taxes and fees with no study, research, reports, financial analysis or summaries being done? Conclusions are being reached, resolutions are being presented and passed, on nothing more than whims. No supporting documentation is being presented to the public. Transparency is being tossed out the window in favor of expediency.
June 09, 2012 at 9:59am
By Paul Alexander
June 09, 2012
Courier Writer
It really appears that the Chairman of the Cannon County Commission and
Commissioners are really trying to get something done in the county at this time
not setting on their hands doing nothing and the Courier writer has the nerve to
say they are doing things too fast without investigating to see if what they are doing
is correct.
Does the Courier suggest that they do what the County Executive has done in the past,
just not act on items.
I would suggest that everyone read the states audit reported for the last three to five
years for Cannon County and nothing was done to correct the deficiencies on the reports
that has not been corrected in the past years. And our local paper writer suggests that the
Chairman of the Cannon County Commission and Commissioners are acting too fast and
without information.
It appears that the writer of comments in the courier is bias. Because it appears that
the courier only picks and chooses the stories that they print.
Did anyone see in the paper where the school system had a suit that was going to court in
March 2012 attached is comment from (SETTLEMENT CONFERENCE ORDER: Settlement Conference set for 3/22/2012 at 9:30 AM before Magistrate Judge Joe Brown)
In addition the Courier has never printed the names of the officers that were involved in
the February shooting, surrounding counties have had shootings and the papers have already placed the names of the officers in the paper. Has anyone noticed how the courier gets offensive when comments are made about the county executive’s office poor job performance? If you do not think this is correct look at what comments that were made by the Courier’s writers
post about how everyone missed catching the money issue in the Reach Program even the auditors. Explain to me how receipts that are turned in without a County issued PO number should be paid not once but on several occasions by the auditor’s report. Then look at States
audit report, about Cannon County and tell me if you do not feel the Courier Writer is not bias.
It would be nice to have the news printed fair and balanced but it really appears that we are afraid to. This is just an opinion.

Paul Alexander
11784 Jim Cummings Hway
Bradyville, Tennessee 37026-9805
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