THE HUNTER REPORT
Mushrooms & Loudon County taxpayers- Keep them in the Dark & Feed them BS
NO Agenda for Monday's Commission Meeting
Keeping the Public in the Dark
By: Pat Hunter
May 31, 2009
A proposed Wellness Clinic for county employees will cost an estimated $68,952.00. This matter is supposed to be a topic of discussion and vote at Commission's Monday, June 1, 6:00 PM meeting. But as of Sunday May 31st, the Agenda still hasn't been published on the official Loudon County government website. Why was discussion about Employee Health Insurance and Wellness Clinic issue, also omitted from the May 18th Commission Workshop Agenda?
Last year, Commission appropriated public funds to hire personnel to take Minutes for County Clerk Riley Wampler. The Budget Committee approved 30 hours per week at $10 per hour. How would you like a part-time job that pays you $1,200 per month to take Minutes and distribute agendas?
According to Commission's Rules and Procedures, the tentative agenda and packet information is supposed to be sent to Commissioners so as to be received not less than 5 days prior to the meeting scheduled date. How difficult would it be to prepare and distribute an agenda and related information, as per Commission's rules? For years, Agendas and Packet information was distributed by e-mail to a list of people that wanted to receive information electronically. Notices were also sent to the same list of people to also notify them when agendas were posted to the website so what excuse will they use this time?
For 10-years (est.), the County Executive/Mayor's office prepared the Minutes, sent out agendas and notices even though the County Clerk is required by state statute to perform those duties. Click to view related story: County Clerk’s Job Duties Discussed.
Where is the accountability when it comes to local officials keeping the public informed; don't Commissioner want the public and county employees to know about matters that affect them?
Former Mayor/County Executive George Miller acknowledged that he would delay the distribution of commission agendas so he could "insulate" commissioners from the public feedback about important issues - the old keep them in the dark and feed them BS philosophy.
According to Mayor Doyle Arp, he and his staff decided that Insurance agent Chris Wampler would speak to all commissioners at the workshop meeting instead of going through normal procedures, purchasing and budget committee. Yet, the Mayor and Commissioners didn't seem concerned that this very public matter wasn't placed on the agenda so the public or employees could attend and hear firsthand.
Insurance Agent Chris Wampler addresses Commissioners about Employee Health Insurance & Wellness Clinic proposal - This matter was not on the May 18, 2009 Commission Workshop Agenda (see below)
Health insurance takes a healthy bite out of county coffers. Chris Wampler's presentation and commissioners Q & A session lasted nearly one hour. During this period, the cost of health insurance was discussed, initially the county was looking at a 26 percent increase. Many items were discussed including the county pays about $1.8 Million, insurance carriers, county employee health benefits and participation in a proposed wellness clinic for county employees. There was a discussion about a report card and compliance issue regarding the Wellness Clinic. No handouts were available for the public to see.
Commissioners have approved funding for a new county IT department, purportedly to get more information on the internet, at least that's the line that the public was fed.
Last year, county taxpayers received a hike in property taxes and this year many property owners face higher re-appraisals, which likely mean higher taxes even if commission should adopt the certified tax rate.
Commissioners like to spend but what benefits do taxpayers see? Taxpayers funds paid for an expensive overhead projector and screen, yet this equipment sits idle at workshop meetings and commissioners seem perfectly content with pricey equipment that just gathers dust!
This administration has a penchant for secrecy and Commission has a tendency for going along but there's light at the end of the tunnel - county elections are less than 1-year away!
LOUDON COUNTY COMMISSION WORKSHOP
Monday, May 18, 2009
Loudon County Office Building
1. This is the time for audience members to speak on items on or not on the agenda.
2. LOUDON COUNTY PLANNING - RUSS NEWMAN
a. A Resolution of the Loudon County Commission Amending the Loudon County Zoning Resolution Amending Section 2.020 Definition of General Terms, 5.041 A-1 Agriculture-Forestry District, Section 5.042 A-2 Rural Residential District and Section 4.125 Development Standards For Dog Kennels and Boarding Facilities, Pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated, Section 13-7-105.
3. LOUDON COUNTY MAYOR - DOYLE ARP
a. Board Appointments:
Loudon County Board of Zoning Appeals
Loudon County Library Board
Regional Library Board
Loudon County Planning Commission
Roane State Maintenance & Operations Advisory Committee
Harold Duff, Lenoir City
b. A Resolution Levying 2009 Special Assessment on Buildable Parcels for Sewer Improvements in Eaton Forest Special Sewer District.
c. Discussion of Planning and Building Commission
4. Loudon County Commissioner - Bob Franke
a. TRDA Lawsuit
5. Loudon County Budget Director - Tracy Blair
6. Any Other Items