By Steve Hunley

Knox County Doesn’t Need A Tax Increase

With little fanfare, Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs has released his proposed budget, which reaches $1 billion.  It’s an increase of $90 million more than last year’s budget, without a tax increase.  The budget proposed by Jacobs is 9.46% more than the previous year, which is very modest, especially considering the rampant inflation in our country.  Jacobs’ budget proposes providing an 8% increase in salaries for the Knox County Sheriff’s Office.  Jacobs and the Knox County Commission approved a 12% raise last year.  That is a total of a 20% raise in two years.

Sheriff Tom Spangler says officers are going to other departments that pay more. It may well be true other departments around Knox County pay more, but I very much doubt they offer the ultra-generous pension voters approved here.  Other Knox County employees do not have lifetime pensions, which KCSO enjoys.  Regular Knox County employees can contribute up to 12% to their 401K, which the county matches.  KCSO employees receive two and a half times that amount. Nor are other Knox County employees able to retire at as much as 97% of full pay as have some sheriff’s department employees.  If the KCSO is given all it demands, the pension liability will be something like $60 million over 20 years, possibly necessitating a HUGE tax hike in the middle of the worst inflation we’ve seen in 40 years.

The City of Knoxville has raised property taxes TWICE in something like five years, the last time the tax increase was a whopping 40%.  The first raise was almost entirely to pay for the pensions of retired city employees.  By and large, city employees are very well paid, especially when compared to their counterparts in the county government.  Yet it is Knox County government that provides most of the services for citizens.  The City went out of the schools business many years ago.  The county government operates the schools, the health department, libraries, etc.  City Mayor Indya Kincannon and her clones on the Knoxville City Council babble about “affordable” housing while driving up mortgages and rents by raising property taxes.  The City continues to spend money it doesn’t have on projects it doesn’t need; for instance, paying millions of dollars for a bridge for the University of Tennessee.  Do city residents need “art” more than they need services?  Very doubtful.  The City also regularly takes property off the tax rolls for any number of silly reasons, increasing the property tax burden upon the middle and lower income residents.

Knox County has funded its needs largely through growth, something the City hasn’t done.  The mayor doesn’t control the county commission. However, the city mayor does largely control the rubber-stamp city council, or at least they follow the lead of the mayor slavishly.

Much of the problem relating to the Knox County Sheriff’s Office has little to do with money; rather it is cultural.  Once upon a time, young men and women saw law enforcement as an honorable profession and it still is.  Unfortunately, the news media and the far left in this country have systematically demonized, dehumanized and degraded police and law enforcement officers.    As a society, we need to realize and comprehend that words matter.  The systematic dehumanization of law enforcement by the Defund the Police movement has seriously affected our society in a very negative way.  Young people aren’t considering law enforcement as a career any longer and pay incentives aren’t going to make up the difference alone.

The approach by Glenn Jacobs is the right approach and hopefully he and Sheriff Spangler will work this out without a tax increase.


For Me But Not For Thee

The Knoxville News-Sentinel in a recent story attempted to give school board member John Butler cover in his criticism of those members who had voted to approve the charter school application for Knox Prep while opposing an agreement with Freedom Schools.  The Freedom Schools offer a summer program and caused Butler to play the only card he seems to carry in his deck; that of race.  Of course, the Sentinel and the usual cadre of far-left “commentators” leap to the aid of Butler.  Those in the media who decry “partisan” politics can be found bashing Republicans and praising Democrats.  To their twisted way of thinking, that isn’t partisan at all.  They continue to push their narrative of the day without regard to a single fact.

I will be the first to acknowledge things are NOT equal as far as schools in Knox County.  What John Butler doesn’t acknowledge, if he even knows it, is the fact that Knox County spends FAR more money per student in his district than any other district in Knox County.  At last count, it was three times that spent in West Knoxville schools.  That’s hardly leaving a particular area behind.  Butler was opposed to a recent charter school that was approved by a majority of the Knox County Board of Education. However, he did support the recent Freedom Schools proposal that many say is aligned with the far Left.  Butler voted against giving families more choices for their children but pitched a fit when he wanted something for his district.  In essence, he did exactly what he accused his colleagues of having done.  Scratch any Leftist and at his/her/their core you will find a hypocrite.  “My body, my choice” only applies to abortion, not vaccinations.  The Left hollers about “fascism,” when they are the authoritarians.  In fact, they seem not to know what fascism really is; fascism is a marriage of big government and big business.

Never forget, those folks who pretend to dislike partisan elections aren’t complaining about politics, they are complaining the Left doesn’t dominate a particular elected body.

Hypocrisy Alert

Debbie Helsley is constantly bawling she will stand up and fight for this, that or the other thing for folks if they will just elect her to the Knoxville City Council.  Helsley claims to be a “neighborhood organizer” and says she will “fight for a Knoxville that works for all of us.”  Evidently, only up to a point as Helsley has been strangely quiet and has yet to raise her dulcet tones to take the part of the people in South Knoxville in their fight against spot zoning.  Residents face a situation where the South High Assisted Living facility is being sought by Helen Ross McNabb who wants it for a drug rehab center.  The developer wants to repurpose the building for another use.  The former South High was always supposed to be residential.  The South High Assisted Living facility residents would be summarily booted out should the council go along.

The facility sits right next to Dogwood Elementary School and is in a residential area.  Tim Hill, who is also a candidate for the city council, led the charge on the planning commission, to override the staff recommendation of turning down the spot zoning request.

There was once a county commissioner who always assured her community she was “working behind the scenes” while winking at her colleagues to go ahead and pass controversial rezonings.  Demolition Debbie must have laryngitis as she’s not wasted a breath on her fellow South Knoxvillians. Clearly, Demolition Debbie doesn’t want to offend a single soul and is just hoping nobody notices her absence from the fight.  If someone isn’t going to fight for their own community and neighbors, who will they fight for?