Lighten The Load

Ran across this headline in the News Sentinel last week, "Attorney blasts court levy proposal". I stopped to read it, thinking it was probably about the litigation tax increase being proposed by Loudon County Judge, Rex Dale. It wasn't.

It was about a Knoxville lawyer who is very upset that Knox County is proposing a $5 fee increase on court cases in Knox County. A $5 increase. Wonder what he would think of a $52 increase?

At Monday's commission meeting, General Sessions Judge Rex Dale proposed and got passed a request to the county commission to create a second full time general sessions court for the county. The proposal to pay the cost of the of the second court would be a $52 litigation tax increase to the already established $17 tax for a total of a $69 fee. That will be on top of $250-$350 in fees/taxes already being charged by the court system.

Judge Dale has come before the commission several times this year to discuss the proposed new court. Each time his main complaint has been that his case load was so large, he was having to work 50-60 hours per week. The judge's current salary is about $151,000.00 per year.

The establishment of the new court is about a four part process. Asking the state for the private act was the first step. The second step will be for the commission to adopt the private act after the state legislature passes it. Third, will be for the commission to pass the $52 litigation tax increase to fund the court. Lastly, the commission will appoint a new judge to fill the position till the next general election in 2016. Given, a majority of commissioners supported the first step, I can only assume the commission will adopt the private act and support the tax increase.

I have no doubt that Judge Dale's work load may be heavy and that an extra judge would certainly reduce the hours he would have to work. But as a fiscal conservative, I can not support tax increases or growing government. In fact for me, it's just the opposite.

If you boil this down to it's root, thousands of Loudon County residents, each year, who use the court system will now be forced to pay higher taxes/fees in order to reduce the work load on Judge Dale.

Oh well, so much for smaller government and lower taxes.