Scrutinize County Accounts Before Raising Taxes

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Re:  Roy Exum: Raise County Taxes Now

Roy,

Before you throw your weight behind an across the board tax increase you should be calling for an outside auditor to comb the financial expenditures / budgets of all Hamilton County departments. Throughout the year I have seen numerous examples of wasteful spending and here we go again using the children as pawns to justify a tax increase. 

Both city and county activities misdirect the dollars being collected in hidden ways. Within the city April Eidson points to specific waste of tax collection in the questionable activities of Councilman Anderson. I dare say there are equal examples in the county.

Tax shelter for apartment projects? You have got to be kidding – at best the construction jobs created are short term – Volkswagen was a legitimate investment in long term jobs. Yet tax dollars are being “forgiven” in the name of “ temporary jobs”. That is malarkey – only the developer benefits from apartment / housing construction. Tell me who is going to rent / purchase those places – construction workers? Millions and millions of dollars being spent by those at the visitors bureau?

Trim that budget.  It all boils down to the bottom line, look everywhere, scrutinize expenses just as we private (ie. tax paying) citizens must do. Any time a taxable property is exempted the burden on John Q Public is increased. 

The school system has not shown (and based upon recent reports is not showing) any desire to fully utilize the possibilities within their power to solve the very problems they claim they don’t have funds to address. Redistrict students, move CSLA into current classroom space, behead the overloaded staff at the central office. I heard one news report that said their budget does not include money for maintenance repairs – is that really true?

You quoted the averages spent per student – that average is realistically the total school budget divided by the number of students. What is the real expenditure? Central staff salaries? Travel? Training? Seminars? How do those expenditures benefit the student? Yes, they are expenses but the true amount is what is paid in teacher salaries and classroom materials / facilities. Compare that cost against the remaining line item total – which is greater? If the direct classroom cost isn’t higher then you’ll see where the school system places their emphasis on a quality education. 

Yes, there are some hard decisions that have to be made. We the public understand that – the easy answer is to increase our taxes. The hard answer is to really comb those budgets. We all know that each county department will spend every penny in their budget so they can ask for more next budget cycle. 

Oh, and by the way, you mention 3 percent.  Check with your friends and neighbors – ask how many of them have been getting a yearly 3 percent increase on their social security or retirement checks for the past 12 years. 

And lest I forget, 2017 will be a “tax neutral” year for property owners in Hamilton County, but what will we face in 2018 when the county is allowed to tax based upon the “increased” property values? Did not Mr. Haynes state that all property values have increased? Sounds like a tax increase to me. 

Roy, one day you criticize the school system, the next day you justify their situation. 

Tom Wheatley
Soddy Daisy


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