How YOUR Loudon County Commissioners Actions
May IMPACT YOU!
We have heard about the cigarette tax but lets hear about other bills (for a list see below) that are pending before the Tennessee General Assembly and how they will affect you.
Commissioner Harold Duff gave an update of Tennessee Legislative Issues pertinent to Loudon County, at the April 2nd commission meeting. However, Duff’s legislative report was not posted on the Loudon County government website before the commission meeting and it still isn’t.
After you read the 2007 proposed bills you’ll get a better idea why some government officials believe taxpayer ignorance is bliss.
Loudon County commissioners pay membership dues to belong to a powerful lobbying group called the Tennessee County Commissioner Association (TCCA). Comm. Duff is commission’s representative (liaison) to the TCCA. He is supposed to express commission’s vote to SUPPORT or OPPOSE certain proposed bills.
Plans are currently underway for Loudon County officials to spend two days (Apr. 17-18) in Nashville to lobby the State Legislature in Nashville about pending bills. (Please note, the budget committee just approved $10,000 for travel expenses to commission’s upcoming budget, but in past years the amount of travel expenditures ranged from $2600 to $4000.)
Why do commissioners appear to work behind the scene with others on the county commissioners association to oppose certain proposed senate bills including SB 0305 and SB 1074?
Why should you care about these proposed bills; if you buy groceries it’s going to affect your pocketbook, that’s why?
TCCA OPPOSES - Tax Relief, Removal of Sales Tax on Your Groceries
Loudon County commission is a part of TCCA and this group opposes tax relief, removal of a 6% state sales tax on food.
Most states exempt sales tax on food but not Tennessee. This bill proposes removing sales tax gradually over 11-years and unless commissioners want to push to do it a whole lot faster, like immediately, they should not oppose this bill.
Many seniors are very concerned about making ends meet on their retirement income. At the same time, young families work two jobs and struggle to put food on the table. I believe the food tax is very unfair especially to people on fixed incomes.
TCCA OPPOSE’S - State Omsbudsman: No Accountability on Open Records!
The TCCA also opposes a bill that would allow the creation of an ombudsman to investigate citizen complaints about officials that hide public records and disobey the Open Records Law. It would appear that commissioners are not concerned about accountability or open honest government.
Currently the only remedy for citizens wishing to view public records from officials that like to hide these records is to file a lawsuit; it’s expensive, time consuming and not practical. This proposed bill could bring oversight and accountability with the creation of an ombudsman to investigate public records complaints. If government officials such as Loudon County Mayor Doyle Arp or commissioners don’t break the Open Records law, they are home free, so what do these officials fear? Commissioners should SUPPORT this bill NOT OPPOSE it.
Competitive bid is supposed to ensure that taxpayers receive the best price for goods and services! Recently, the purchasing director gave a local company the opportunity to do business with Loudon County, without the benefit of the bid process. Is SB 0319, a good thing, as Martha Stewart says?
SB 0319 – Increases the amount over the competitive bids are required for county purchases under the general fund from $5000 to $10,000. TCCA SUPPORTS this proposed bill.
Please take the time to voice your concerns with all commissioners and state elected officials about these proposed legislative. Don’t forget, these elected representatives work for YOU and they vote to spend your hard earned money!
Click below to view a list of legislative bills that YOUR county commissioners mostly OPPOSE or SUPPORT through TCCA’s efforts.
Contact List for Loudon County State elected officials:
State Senator Randy McNally: District Address: 94 Royal Troon Circle, Oak Ridge, TN 37830, Phone (865) 483-5544
Nashville Address: 307 War Memorial Building, Nashville, TN 37243-0205, Phone (615) 741-6806. Staff Contact: Anne Rasmussen and Rick Nicholson, Research Analyst.
State Representative Jimmy Matlock:
District Address: 190 Matlock Road, Lenoir City, 37771, Phone: 986.4201
Nashville Address: 219 War Memorial Building, Nashville, TN 37243-0121. Phone (615) 741-3736, Staff Contact: Brenda Moore.
State Representative Dennis Ferguson:
District Address: 2851 Roane State Highway, Harriman, TN 37748. Phone (865) 882-8163
Nashville Address: 17 Legislative Plaza, Nashville, TN 37243-0132, Phone (615) 741-7658, Fax (615) 253-0163, Staff Contact: Kim Coleman
Keep’m in the Dark -
More Public Records Denials!
It appears that Mayor Arp likes to cherry pick what taxpayers see or don’t see on Loudon County’s government website. The April 2nd “commission packet” neglected to include information on at least three (3) agenda items including:
1. Monthly comprehensive financial report required by law that gives the financial condition of Loudon County - Ms. Tracy Blair, finance director.
2. Budget amendments - Ms. Tracy Blair, finance director.
3. Legislative update report - Commissioner Harold Duff.
Commissioner Harold Duff’s legislative report about the TCCA bills was not discussed at a previous workshop as required by Loudon County’s own Rules and Procedures government handbook, which requires:
Five days before commission’s meeting, I contacted Ms. Bright, Mayor’s assistant by email to request information, which was not posted to the county government website. I even offered to drop by the Mayor’s office to view the public records. Ms. Bright’s email reply, “Pat, I spoke with Tracy about the monthly comprehensive report and Commissioner Duff about copies of the legislative bills. Tracy and Commissioner Duff will give you a copy along with the Commissioners at the April 2nd Commission meeting.”
Many times commissioners come unprepared or appear to just rubber stamp whatever is placed under their nose; unfortunately, taxpayers pay the price for their inefficiency and lack of understanding of the issues or information. It sure would be nice if taxpayers had a few commissioners with some backbone to stand up for the citizens rather than just going along with the status quo!