Thursday, September 15, 2005

September 15, 2005 Several departments respond quickly to vehicle request

See my post of September 13: COUNTY INVENTORY.

After reviewing the 6/30/05 County Inventory, I asked Finance Director Nicole Epps at a September 12 Finance Committee meeting if she would get mileage and condition information for all county vehicles listed on the county inventory. [County Commission passed a resolution almost two years ago that it wanted to have this information on an annual basis.]

Nicole Epps' boss (County Mayor David Purkey) was also at the Finance meeting. After I asked her for the information, she told me that it was not required by the auditors and then her boss (County Mayor David Purkey) said that I would have to ask each elected official and department head directly for that information myself.

Well, I'm not shy about asking for information, so I went ahead on September 13 and began sending out e-mails at about 3:35 pm requesting this information from officials and department heads.

About 45 minutes after I sent out my first e-mail request, I received a copy of an e-mail from Finance Director Nicole Epps showing that she was suddenly starting to request the information for me.

I was surprised by her e-mail since I had specifically asked her on September 12 if she would get this information and her response then was that it wasn't "required" and her boss's response (Mayor Purkey) then was that I would have to request it myself from each department.

I e-mailed her back that I had already started to get the information myself like I'd been told to, and we didn't need to duplicate our efforts.

Let's be realistic. County Mayor David Purkey detests financial questions. Since I ask them and actually follow through to get the answers (from others if necessary), County Mayor David Purkey detests me. He has made that evident in three years of vicious personal attacks.

I think that most of the anger that causes him to blow up so often can be traced to my proposal after taking office to have the state auditors perform the county audit in 2003.

The state auditors came in and suddenly Hamblen County, which had only one audit finding or problem reported by the local auditors in the 2002 audit, had 29 findings of irregularities and violations of state law in the 2003 audit. That was more findings than any other county in the whole state.

Mayor Purkey's anger bubbles to the surface every time I ask a question or try to get information. He even got upset when the full commission asked him to do something really simple--like put a county decal on his county car. Now, why in the world did he blow up and refuse to put a Hamblen County decal on the car that the taxpayers provide for him (along with gas, insurance, and maintenance costs, too)? Go figure.


In my September 13 post, I mentioned that most elected officials and department heads are responsive and willing to share information about county (taxpayer) property.

Well, I want you to know that one official responded more quickly than anyone could have imagined. Assessor of Property Keith Ely sent the mileage and condition information back on the same day I sent the request. Keith is one of the most open and accessible elected officials around, and he is always willing to discuss and provide information about his office.

I worked with Keith about two months ago when I called him to let him know that I had found what appeared to be a rather large error in the new state-certified property tax rate that the state had sent us and that our Trustee and Finance Department were using in calculating our county revenues and budgeted expenditures. After my call to Keith, he called the state and asked them to review and check our new property tax rate.

The state agreed that it had made an error and sent back a corrected figure that reduced the new property tax rate for Hamblen County taxpayers by 11 cents. That 11 cents meant a total savings to county taxpayers of nearly $1.2 million dollars, and it was all taken care of in one day.

There are several other officials who have already responded to the request for vehicle information: Eric Carpenter (EMA), Danny Young (Planning Commission), and Cyndi Trent (Juvenile Court).

It will probably take a few days for a response from the Sheriff and the Road Superintendent/Garbage Dept. because those are the two departments that have the largest number of vehicles.

There are just one or two other departments that haven't responded yet, but I'm sure they will because, as I have said before, most elected officials and department heads are very open and very willing to share information about county (taxpayer) property.

1 comment:

s. j. miller said...

First of all, YOU GO GIRL!
A $1.2 million tax saving isn't just nickels and dimes. The question every Hamblen county taxpayer should be asking is "What is Nicole Epps' salary that she's either too overqualified or to underqualified to have discovered it?"

And I'm sure that your discovery has only increased the hostility from both she and David Turkey (sorry, Purkey). Clearly, they don't want to do their job, but they don't want you doing it either. Both should be booted out on their behinds.

And if that's the hostility and non-cooperative response they show to an elected official, imagine the way they treat citizens!