Friday, August 25, 2006

August 25, 2006 Thank You to the Voters of the 14th District

At yesterday's August meeting of the Hamblen County Commission, I shared my thoughts and feelings about my decision not to run for re-election and my hopes for the future.

I want to share with my blog readers the statement that I read aloud and that I asked to be included in the official minutes:

Linda Noe Statement of August 24, 2006

I would like to express my gratitude to the voters of the 14th district for their support in electing me in 2002.

I have remained true to every campaign promise I made.

While I chose not to run again for personal reasons, I am still concerned about the handling of public money.

Accountability was my focus then and accountability is my focus today.

We have made some positive strides, but there is a long way to go.

Our system of government provides for a system of checks and balances to prevent abuse of power by any of the three branches of government—executive, judicial, legislative.

The Hamblen County Commission should be a vital part in promoting accountability and ensuring that our system of checks and balances works to protect our tax dollars.

I encourage the incoming commission to reject the title of “rubber stamp commission.”

Work with the Mayor but expect the Mayor to work with you as well.

Co-operation is a two-way street. Ask questions and expect and demand answers.

You can’t do your job if you don’t know what’s going on with county finances. Listen to the answers and let common sense be your guide.

If the answer doesn’t pass the smell test, don’t hold your nose and go on. Ask more questions and get rid of the smell.

It is your duty to be a part of the system of checks and balances, not an elected spectator or puppet for power mongers.

I am proud that with the support of other commissioners, many of my goals were achieved over the past four years such as:

Hiring state auditors to handle the county audit and saving the county $72,000.

Airing commission meetings on local cable TV.

Opening up the bidding process in many areas to save the county money.

Using an open and fair process for hiring architects and engineers.

During part of the time that I served on commission, I attended law school, graduated, and passed the bar exam. The law license has my name on it, but it was achieved with the support of a loving family.

I thank my husband Ron, my son Will and his wife Katie Kanipe-Noe, and my twin daughters Jenny and Katie for their patience and encouragement over the past years.

I thank my mother Helen Catron for her support as well, and I gratefully honor my late father Bill Catron for his encouragement through the years.

Now with the support of a loving family, it is time for me to use that degree.

I will always be proud of having served on the Hamblen County Legislative Body.

As a citizen and taxpayer, I will remain concerned and involved in the public’s business.

To the new commissioners: the people have elected you. You owe them your loyalty and faithful service.

I hope that above all else that you believe in and will support open government.

Support Tennessee’s Open Meetings and Open Records Laws.

Keep the TV camera running at your commission meetings.

Tape and show your committee meetings---you know that that is where the most discussion of issues and deliberation occurs.

There are some goals that weren’t fully achieved in the past four years. I hope you will consider making more use of the county website. Put commission agendas, minutes of committee and commission meetings, and financial records on the web.

Consider having meetings at times that are most convenient for the largest number of working people.

Open the government up to the people you were elected to serve.

Encourage other elected officials--the Morristown City Council and the Hamblen County School Board—to put their meetings on TV.

You have been given a great honor by being elected to the Hamblen County Commission.

Serve openly, listen carefully, avoid conflicts of interest, and control spending and taxes.

I wish you well.

Linda Noe

August 25, 2006 Last Commission Meeting Yesterday? Almost.

The Hamblen County Commission held its August meeting yesterday, August 24. It was supposed to be the last meeting of the current commissioners as the newly-elected commission takes office on September 1.

And it was the last meeting---almost!

There was one small snag at the meeting.

Most, maybe all, Sheriffs across the state have a Chief Deputy. Sheriff Otto Purkey, however, eliminated that position in Hamblen County several years ago.

Newly-elected Sheriff Esco Jarnagin wants to restore the position of Chief Deputy.

Most Commissioners (except for Commissioner Doyle Fullington) didn't seem to have a problem with the re-organization of the Sheriff's Office to include a Chief Deputy again.

A lot of commissioners did seem uncomfortable--as they should be-- with making this decision without complete financial information about costs and where the money will come from.

A salary estimate of $45,000 -$47,000 was mentioned in a letter to commissioners by Sheriff Jarnagin, but there could be additional costs related to insurance, social security, and other benefits.

Solution: Another meeting of the full commission on August 28.

Finance Director Nicole Epps will present an analysis of all costs for the Chief Deputy position.

Sheriff-elect Esco Jarnagin will be invited to discuss the way to fund this position and whether this position can be handled through a budget amendment that requires no new money.

More on the 28th.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

August 15, 2006 Committee Actions

The Finance Committee met yesterday. How to handle the purchase of uniforms for Sheriff's deputies was on the agenda.

I had an opportunity to more fully present my proposal to save the county and deputies around $6,000 on the purchase of uniforms.

As I explained, the savings come from the simple act of writing a non-taxable check to the uniform company instead of writing a taxable payroll check to each deputy.

With the current payroll check method, taxes and retirement costs have to be paid by the deputy and by the county.

These costs---in the thousands of dollars---can be eliminated by bidding out the uniforms and then writing a check to the uniform company.

The uniform company is not an employee so there are no taxes and no retirement costs.

Choosing the best way to handle the purchase of uniforms will be taken up again in October with a new commission and a new Sheriff (Esco Jarnagin).

I was assured that no payroll checks had been written or would be written for uniforms until the best method for handling the purchase is decided.

My main concern at yesterday's committee meeting was to make sure that members of the committee and others understand that you can save thousands of dollars just by changing to whom you write the "uniform" checks.

You can save money by writing a non-taxable check to a uniform company or you can lose money by writing a taxable payroll check to each deputy.

Having decided not to run for re-election, I won't be on the commission in October when the decision is made, but I will still be watching closely because it's our tax dollars that are at stake!

I know what I would do if it were my money.

I'd save myself and the deputies $6,000 and provide real accountability by being able to show that every dollar intended for uniforms was actually spent on uniforms.