You Got Yours,
We want Ours

We've all seen the nature shows on TV where some where in Africa, a gang of lions attack and kill some hapless, helpless antelope or impala or even sometimes a water buffalo. After the kill, as the lions begin devouring their prize, it's not long before a group of hungry scavenging hyena's show up to challenge the lions to the dead carcass. The fights between the lions and hyenas can be brutal and sometimes deadly with both sides determined to get their share of the kill.

The Loudon County Board Of Education has made a grade A mess of the Loudon County school system with poor financial management and disastrous decision making. Now that they have just about run the bucket dry, they are looking to the Loudon County Commission to bail them out. Thus far the commission has drawn the line in the sand so to speak, refusing to give the BOE their requested 4.5 mil. new dollars. The BOE is bringing all the pressure on the commission they can in an attempt to break their will and force them to cough up the money. It will be interesting to see which side wins.

Commissioner Don Miller has gone far above and beyond the call of duty by putting himself in the direct line of fire of many of those from the BOE by offering to meet with and explain certain facts and figures pertaining to the BOE's revenues and expenditures over the last few years. Miller's facts are undisputable, that is that, the BOE's revenues and expenditures have inexplicably gone up exponentially in the last few years and that the commission has more than fairly funded them. Last Wednesday, Miller held another of his informal meetings which was attended by a number of school employees.

A surprise guest at the meeting was former school board finance director, Cindy Cornelius, armed with her own facts and figures pertaining to the schools budget and also the general county budget. Cornelius, who by anyone's account was an outstanding finance manager for the schools, did not dispute Miller's figures. In fact she stated that Miller's figures were accurate. However, Ms. Cornelius had a lot of facts and figures showing just how much the the general county budget revenues and expenditures had gone up over the same time period. The BOE seems to be saying, well maybe we have been spending too much money but you all have been too. Are you starting to see the parallel of the lions and the water buffalo yet?

I can without hesitation say that I personally know and have worked with every member of the commission and the school board and I can also say without hesitation, with the exception of Mr. Arp, that everyone of these individuals are good and honorable men and women. However some seem to have lost their perspective and why they are there. Loudon County is a wonderful place to live, work and raise a family. We have a good quality of life and up till recently, we could even tout low taxes as a benefit of living here. But with out of control development and tax increases coming every other year, seems we are heading for negative change.

What am I missing here? All we hear is more taxes, more taxes but we have yet to hear anyone on either board say a word about cutting their spending. Are we to believe that all waste and and unnecessary spending have been cut from both board's budgets? Not likely. Both the Loudon County Commission and the Loudon County Board of Education have been spending our money with reckless abandon and now both want more of our money. This madness has to stop.

Here is a perfect example of just how far out of touch some of our elected officials are. At Mr. Miller's budget meeting, Miller pointed out that there are people in Loudon County who just can't afford big tax increases. School board member, Nancy Paule who represents Tellico Village, told Miller there are programs available for poor people who can't afford higher taxes. Put that in perspective. Commissioner Miller is concerned about the burden higher taxes will have on some folks. School board member Paule suggest the poor people could just go get government aid to help pay their taxes. Paule's statement may be the most absurd statement ever uttered. Was it Marie Antoinette who said "let them eat cake" after hearing the peasants' complain they didn't have enough food?

Education is vitally important for the children of Loudon County but you can't bankrupt the parents of those children with excessively higher taxes in the process. The lions are the commissioners, the hyenas are the school board and the dead carcass is the Loudon County tax payer and it seems none of them are going to stop till they have picked our poor old bones clean.