Before I get into the meat of this column I want to give much appreciation to Whit Goins. Whit has battled back from a stroke and is back to representing the folks in the first district.
Now onto what I really want to talk about.
On Tuesday the Budget and Finance Committee met once again to discuss the certified tax rate. Last meeting they moved to keep the rate at the current $2.25 which would have meant a significant jump for everyone due to the recently completed reappraisal.
This move did not sit well with pretty much anyone I talked to and I talk to a lot of folks both online and in person. As a tax paying citizen I felt personally attacked. As a Libertarian I felt robbed. I felt it my duty to call these people out for what I felt they were. Other folks also did this in various media, social and traditional.
Well the commission seemed to listen. On Tuesday night they met again. This time Brandon Partin, the county’s Property Assessor, was there to answer any questions the commission may have had. Partin fielded their questions very well. Three commissioners actually had direct questions. Rusty Orick and Dewayne Baird brought up valid concerns and Parting answered them with a knowledge the commissioners did not have. Ralph Davis continued to confirm my already low opinion to him speaking to Partin as if he were all powerful and attempting to chastise him and lord over him.
In the end the commission did the right and proper thing and set the rate at the recommended $2.0659 rate. Now as to why they changed I genuinely want to believe that they were misinformed on what was going on rather than attempting to rob the property tax paying citizens even further. A true cynic would definitely say they did it only because they got called out and that is very possibly the case. That is for you all to decided. Personally I want to believe the first one even concerning the pair of commissioners I dislike on a personal level.
I try to put myself in their place in this. As an Alderman of Caryville this is obviously something I have never faced as we do not have a property tax to increase. So I looked at it from another perspective. I am going to use liquor laws as they also come from a state mandate not unlike the certified tax rate. We have a city attorney and city recorder that handle not unlike the county has a county attorney and finance director. I often use our recorder and would have no hesitation to consult our city attorney if I had a question about a change to any laws. If the liquor laws changed I would have had our recorder send me the information via email. If I had legal questions I would call our attorney. If I did not have the info I simply would move to table any vote until I did. In fact we have done that in the past. Maybe this is something the commission needs to consider in the future. We have enough veteran commissioners on the county’s legislative body to know to do this.
In the end the citizens spoke loudly as social media has given many a voice that did not have it in years past. The commission, to their credit listened. This does not mean we should suddenly just become lax in keeping up with them. I wish more would attend these meetings. As a collective the Times has started to attempt to carry these meetings on Facebook Live when possible. I actually tried my best to last night but absolutely could not get the signal to go through. No explanation as we have been live from there on multiple occasions with few issues. Also if anyone believes I did not want to be live on this you do not know what you speak of. Those videos are always popular and we want traffic on our page. This is why I also travel with a battery pack for my phone as I missed the last few minutes of a school board workshop. I had to rush home and attempt to recreate the meeting in words which was less effective than a video would be.
Oh and as a post script if you are going to be in politics on any level you need to grow a thicker skin. None of you would have survived a weekly calling out by Boomer Winfrey and God help you if you had ever gotten on the late, great Dr. Hunter S. Thompson’s radar.