Wednesday, May 27, 2009

May 27, 2009 Commissioners Give Extra Sales Tax Money To Schools and Take Away School Property Tax Money for Building Program Debt Reserve

At yesterday's meeting of the Hamblen County Budget Committee, the commissioners voted unanimously to recommend to the full commission that the school system's share of increased sales tax revenues go to the schools (which, of course, is required by law) and that 8-cents of the current school property tax rate be taken away from the schools and placed in the county debt service fund as a reserve for school capital improvements.

Herbert Harville made the motion which gives money to the schools with one hand (sales tax revenues) and takes away the same amount of money from the schools with the other hand (school property tax rate reduction) and places the money taken away into a reserve debt account for school repairs and school capital improvements.

In prior statements and at yesterday's commission meeting, Herbert Harville said that he had encouraged voters to vote "yes" on the May 5 sales tax referendum teling them that the sales tax revenues would be used for the school building program. There was extended discussion on what the school board had said would be done with any extra money.

[Of course, if Herbert read the front-page of the local newspaper on April 19--over two weeks before the May 5 referendum--he would have seen that Director of Schools Dale Lynch described a lot of things that the schools "could" do with one million dollars but Lynch did not say that the money would be dedicated solely to the school building program. Click here for my post on what Lynch said "could" be done with any extra sales tax revenue.]

Herbert pointed out to commissioners that the school board had plugged the new sales tax revenues into the regular school operating budget to spend in the next school year.

Hamblen County Commissioners--at least the 10 who were present yesterday--voted unanimously to take back 8-cents of the school property tax rate and place it in a reserve debt fund for school improvements.

Commissioners voting for Herbert Harville's motion were: Dennis Alvis, Larry Baker, Guy Collins, Stancil Ford, Doyle Fullington, Herbert Harville, Doe Jarvis, Paul Lebel, Tommy Massey, and Dana Wampler.

Not attending the budget meeting were: Ricky Bruce, Nancy Phillips, Reece Sexton, and Joe Spoone.

The effect of Herbert's proposal is to keep the county's maintenance of effort (the county's required contribution to the schools) at the same level as in past years and at the same time to make sure that there is money set aside for needed work at East High. The commission discussed at great length the roof and other problems at East High and the way that the School Board has allowed East High to deteriorate while at the same time just recently purchasing additional property adjacent to the school.

The funny thing was to hear the commissioners "wondering" why the school board was buying property around East High and "wondering" why the school board had not put a roof on East High over the past years and "wondering" what the school board's maintenance plan was and "wondering" where the school board's roof consultant was.

The speculation about what the school board is doing, is not doing, and is thinking of doing is funny only because the school board members are not some extra-terrestrials on another planet.

Why are commissioners "wondering" what's going on with East High. Pick up the phone and call Dr. Lynch, School Board Chairman Janice Haun, or another school board member and find out what the school board is doing and plans to do with taxpayer money.


Kate said...

It sure seems that some members of the commission are conspicuously absent quite frequently. Can't something be done about that? I thought voting was a right, not a privilege, but they sure don't seem to be taking advantage of that right as elected officials. If I were in their constituency, I'd be pretty upset about it.

Tim N said...

A lot of "wondering" going on at the county commission. Makes me wonder if it isn't time to get some new commissioners that represent the people instead of constantly flexing their power and seeking more.