$600,000 in County Public Monies - A Non-Profit’s Request;

Will this Set a Dangerous Precedent?

By Pat Hunter



More Pressing Matters: 


IF Loudon County commissioners want to consider a non-profit group's request for $600,000 taxpayer dollars to fund a new library building in Tellico Village, I think commissioners should seriously consider waiting and putting that request on hold! 


County taxpayers face a property tax increase on nearly $48 Million worth of school improvements so how can commissioners possibly think about spending taxpayer monies facing that dilemma, which has yet to be resolved?


Seniors also expect a tax freeze on their property taxes because this past November, voters approved giving seniors a property tax freeze. First, the State Legislature will approve setting income caps. Then counties and cities can vote to approve a local resolution and/or ordinance to give seniors the tax relief they so deserve.

This means that city and county officials will also have to do a better job of managing taxpayer monies and tightening local government spending!    


Existing Libraries:


In past years, Loudon County has entered into agreements with Lenoir City and Loudon City, both governmental entities; to build a new library in Lenoir after a fire destroyed the old location and to move the Loudon City library from its cramped old location to a temporary location at the old health department. Two other libraries are located in Greenback and Philadelphia cities. 


As I recall, it was 7th District Commissioner Don Miller, Tellico Village resident, who delayed a critical commission vote by objecting to move the Loudon City library from the county building location to temporary quarters at old health department building because he was concerned about accountability of taxpayer dollars!


The total cost of the new building is estimated at about $1 Million (est.). Now, Commissioner Miller actively lobbies for $600,000 for a new building in his district. The Loudon City Library was earmarked $100,000 (est.) for renovations not $600,000, one sixth of six hundred thousand dollars.


Click here to read the solicitation letter to county officials asking for $200,000 per year for three years. The proposed $1 Million split would be - 600,000 taxpayer funded and $ 400,000 from the Village non-profit group. The letter does not mention who will retain ownership of the building or what happens if the group defaults on payments.


One argument used by the Tellico Village group is that they pay a lot of property taxes and they do not use services. What about residents that live in other unincorporated areas they pay a whole lot more in property taxes so where’s their community center or recreational facilities for our youth?


A spokesperson for the Village non-profit group made a pitch to the budget and capital projects committees requesting a similar financial deal as that extended in two intergovernmental agreements between Loudon County and the cities, Lenoir and Loudon. The match was a 60% county and 40% city tax funded financial split.


County and city government have taxing authority to raise revenues while non-profits depend on donations and fund-raising.


Fiscal Responsibility:


What makes one non-profit needs or desires more important, over any other? As commissioners consider spending taxpayers’ monies, there has to be a fair way of evaluating and prioritizing the county’s future needs, other then exerting political muscle by a wealthy influential neighborhood.


There are more urgent matters in the near horizon such as needed school improvements, furnishing schoolbooks to children without books and providing teachers with resources rather than asking them to dip into their own pocketbooks, enhancing existing libraries in the schools and cities, making dangerous intersections and roads safe, and the list goes on.


Charity begins at home. Let the politicians dig into their own pocketbooks and give to their favorite charity as other people do. The use of taxpayer dollars to subsidize the operations of non-profits must be questioned. Is this a way for a politician to ingratiate him or her self with voters in their district?


At a past meeting, Estelle Herron, county trustee said that bankruptcies fill her files and more staff was needed to help with this problem. Tennessee is now in the top ten nationwide for bankruptcies. People are struggling to make ends meet and they can’t pay their bills including property taxes. The practice of giving taxpayer monies to non-profits is out of control just because commissioners do not have the discipline or the compassion to say NO!


Let private individuals give to charities and non-profits of their choice; this is not the role of government to decide who deserves and who does not! Please share your thoughts or ask questions to your elected officials about how you want your taxpayer money spent. 


Loudon County Elected Representatives 2006-2007

Mayor Doyle Arp Phone: 458-4664 office, 458- 3980 home

Email: darp@loudoncounty.org (Chairman Budget Committee)

1st District - Nancy Marcus, Phone: 458-8581, Email: kens300@aol.com (Budget Committee Member)

1st District - David Meers, Phone: 458-2414, Email: dmeers2414@charter.net     

2nd District - Earlena Maples - Phone 986-6772, Email: emaples@lcub1.com

2nd District - Shirley Reno - Phone 986-1256, Email: s_reno@bellsouth.net

3rd District - Bob Franke Phone: 856-0303, Email: rdfranke@msn.com (Budget Committee Member)

4th District Roy Bledsoe (Chairman) Phone: 458-2829

5th District Harold Duff - Phone 988-6647, Email: superhbd@aol.com

5th District Chris Park - Phone: 986-1229, Email: cwpark@cvs.com (Budget Committee Member)

6th District - Wayne Gardin, Phone: 988-4433 Email: wgardin@aol.com

7th District - Don Miller, Phone: 458-0658, Email tvdrmiller@aol.com (Budget Committee Member)