THE HUNTER REPORT
WHO WILL PAY FOR EVICTION PROMISE; TAXPAYERS?
Left: Commissioners Maples, Yarbrough, Meers, Quillen, and County Attorney; Middle table left to right, Comm. Harrelson, Bledsoe, Mayor Herron, & Finance Director.
Legal clock ticks away... More legal service fees ahead ... County Attorney, Mayor Herron & Juvenile Dept. - April 21 Workshop
LOUDON COUNTY GOVERNMENT MATH
SAVE $300,000 & SPEND $1 MILLION +
BY: PAT HUNTER
In 2010 candidate Estelle Herron campaigned on a platform of "willingness to work with others," and listening to the concerns of citizens and to manage tax dollars. What happened to Mayor Herron's willingness to work with others promise?
MAYOR'S $300,000 RENOVATIONS PLANS 2011
At the Jan.13, 2014 Commission meeting, Mayor Herron made an impromptu request to add a Resolution assigning office space" to the meeting agenda. A Special Called Budget Committee meeting was held immediately prior to the commission meeting. Click An Email from Finance Director Blair to CTAS, DEC. 2, 2013 & AUG. 9, 2013 was distributed to the Budget Committee, and commissioners. Nothing was said about the two items at the preceding Dec. 13, 2013 workshop meeting. Loudon County's Procedural Rules states "... All items to be placed on the Commission Agenda must go through the Commission Workshop first" but procedures were not followed by commission or county mayor.
Director Vance and BOE Vice-Chair Ric Best made an appeal for Commission to delay any decision so the two bodies could meet to discuss the move. But after all was said and done and all the votes were counted, the following commissioners voted to adopt Mayor Herron's assigning office space Resolution: AYE - David Meers D-1, Rosemary Hines-Quillen D-2, Bob Franke D-3, Harold Duff D-5, Steve Harrelson D-6, Brian Jenkins (D1) and Roy Bledsoe D-4; NAY - Sharon Yarbrough (D-5), and Earlena Maples (D-2); and Absent: Don Miller (D-7). Related story - County gives BOE boot - Commission balks at request to continue office space talks - News Herald Jan 15 - 16, 2014.
At the Feb. 3, 2014 Commission meeting, Commission voted to spend up to $800,000 for roof repairs and new administrative office renovations at the Tech Center for the Board of Education. On roll call vote the following Commissioners voted AYE: David Meers (D1), Brian Jenkins (D-1), Earlena Maples (D-2), Rosemary Hines Quillen (D-2), Bob Franke (D-3), Roy Bledsoe (D-4), Harold Duff (D-5), Steve Harrelson (D-6), and Don Miller (D-7). NAY: Sharon Yarbrough.
(Note: The $800,000 does not include the cost of moving, furnishings, and legal. The Board of Education has since consulted with school board attorney Chuck Cagle and authorized discussions with the county attorney).
BREAKING THE COUNTY PIGGY BANK - LEGAL SERVICE FEES
CLICK ELECTION PROMISE? I PROMISE YOU ... EVICTION NOTICE! A Knoxville radio station, and Knoxville News Sentinel reported about Loudon mayor ratchets up talk on schools administration relocation Loudon chief says she'll take legal action - April 24, 2014
Taxpayers spent an estimated $438,508.00 in legal service fees to a Knoxville based law firm, in the last 4-years. The county mayor employs or retains a county attorney and the legislative body approves funding for the county attorney's budget. Mayor Herron (Budget Chair) prepared and made recommendations to the FY 13-14 Budget, which was reviewed by the Budget Committee, and ultimately approval by County Commission on July 15, 2013. Mayor Herron's recommendation was to allocate $155,000 for the county attorney's budget; $145,752 has been spent thru March 2014, with 3-months remaining in this fiscal year.
Another quasi-government commission, the financially troubled Loudon County Solid Waste Disposal Commission (LCSWDC) spent $67,287.14 (est.) in legal services from July 1, 2013 thru March 2014. For the last four-years, LCSWDC spent $201,033.17 (est.) in legal services to another Knoxville law firm.
The LCSWDC is comprised of five county appointees, and one Lenoir and one Loudon City appointee recommended by the respective county and city mayors and approved by the respective county and cities legislative bodies.
Compare LCSWDC legal service fees in 2007 (contract negotiations) and 2014 (contract re-negotiations), same Knoxville law firm; go figure! Related story about LCSWDC - "Board's Legal Fees Soar" - News Herald Jan 1-2, 2014
For the last 4-years, the combined (County and LCSWDC) legal service fees was $639,541.17 (est.).
Over $2 Million (est.) was spent in combined legal service fees between the County and LCSWDC since 2002.
Just compare Loudon County's legal service fees with similar size counties (see table below), and you can see how Loudon County far out spends the other two counties!
The County Technical Assistance Service (CTAS) provides county officials with technical and legal advise, which begs the question, why does Loudon County pay so much in legal service fees?
When I hear commissioners talk about being fiscally responsible or spending taxpayer money wisely, I wonder how many commissioners have ever bothered to examine monthly county attorney invoices or solid waste invoices or whether commissioners ever think about the cost associated with their actions; case in point, the BOE forced move. Our taxpayer money could be better spent on improving education, students and teachers.
TAX & SPEND
Since 2010 and in a poor economic climate, the number of county employees grew by 20 percent, estimated county expenditures increased by 12 percent, and the county's fund balance decreased by 32 percent
Click Loudon County Finances - Budget Committee Don Miller prep 4-13-2013 pdf
If you are concerned about the direction of county government's leadership and how your hard earned money is being squandered, please voice your concerns to county officials.
Better yet, please take the time to vote in the upcoming election. See Candidates Petitions
|2010 CENSUS POPULATION||48,559||51,414||44,517|
LOUDON COUNTY ATTORNEY
BOARD OF EDUCATION ATTORNEY
JEFFERSON COUNTY ATTORNEY
MONROE COUNTY ATTORNEY
|2014 - BUDGET * FY 13-14 - Year to date||$67,287.17||$145,752.00||
|COUNTY ATTORNEY & LCSWDC COMBINED TOTAL||$2,002,093.17|
SOURCE: AUDIT - TENNESSEE COMPTROLLER COUNTY AUDITS
* LOUDON COUNTY BUDGET FY 13-14
FISCAL YEAR: JULY 1, 2013 TO JUNE 30, 2014
LCSWDC - LOUDON COUNTY SOLID WASTE DISPOSAL COMMISSION
(Note: It was time consuming to look up all the audit data so if you find an error, please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org Thanks for reading).