It's About Trust

In 2005 county commission raised the property tax by thirty-two cents mostly in the name of education. In 2008 county commission raised the property tax by eight cents again in the name of education. So six and three years later what do we have to show for forty cents in tax increases. Unfortunately, mostly just higher operating expenditures and a lot of money spent to maintain aged school facilities.

So now this commission is contemplating a twenty cent  property tax increase in the name of education. What's different now than in 2005 and 2008? A lot.

For the first time the school board has a defined, specific plan for a building program and if the tax increase is passed every penny will go to the building program. For the first time the school board has drawn a line in their budget and asked for no additional funding for their operating budget. There are a lot of new commissioners and school board members and a new county mayor.

Obviously Loudon County voters were dissatisfied with many of their previous elected officials and sent them home to give new officials the opportunity to lead Loudon County. Now is their chance. The hard decision is now. If commission passes the property tax increase we know what we'll be getting. If the tax increase/building plan doesn't pass we also know at least some of what we can expect.

We know we're going to immediately have to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars for a new roof at Greenback. We know that we are going to have to spend probably hundreds of thousands more to bring the temporary portables up to code, sprinklers, plumbing etc. The fire marshal has thus far allowed us to get by with the portables without sprinkler systems and plumbing but that could very well change if they decide that we're making no progress to eliminate the temporary portables.
We know we're going to have to spend thousands more at both Greenback and Loudon for extensive repairs, on the temporary portables for rot, leaks mold, etc. We know that we're going to have to add more portables at both Greenback and Loudon.
We know we have already spent more than two million dollars for plans for Phase I. Would it make any sense to put those plans on the shelf with all the other unused plans bought and paid for in the past?
While right now there seems to be some folks in opposition to the building program/tax increase, those doubters and naysayers will evaporate when/if new buildings come out of the ground.

Loudon County voters must be able to trust that their elected officials will do what they say and if they don't the voters will send them home as they did their predecessors. If they say a tax increase is for school buildings, that better be where the money goes.

Commissioners are in an impossible position. There's no way they can satisfy everybody. If they raise taxes some will be angry. If they don't raise taxes some will be angry and millions will have been lost and possibly millions more will have to be spent to maintain the status quo which will soon require a tax increase.

Ultimately a decision will be made, sooner rather than later, and what ever they decide we will have to trust that each commissioner voted the way they felt was in the best interest of Loudon County.