OK, so I'm checking out today's story - “Amendment would aid Beck” - that details a number of commission proposals that would rearrange money in the administration's proposed budget to fund a number of things like the Beck Cultural Exchange Center and pay raises for employees.
I decided to look for some reaction and gave county Mayor Tim Burchett, at left, a call. He weighed in on each of the proposals.
So . . . .
Me: Commissioner Sam McKenzie wants to use at least some of the additional $364,000 that went to the county's engineering and public works department to help out the Beck Center and restore $75,000 to the Knox Area Transit's senior rider program. Your thoughts?
Burchett: That's where we've been taking money from the past (the engineering department) and that's supposed to repair out roads. When we talk about infrastructure and what we're doing for jobs, I think that is a vital role of government. It doesn't make headlines, but filling in the potholes and patching the streets – that's important. And right now our roads are showing it because of the freeze we had this fall. We haven't made those repairs in the past and now they're catching up to us.
Me: It looks like commission Vice Chairman Brad Anders proposed cutting $2.6 million from the Great Schools Partnership to give employees a 2 percent raise.
Burchett: That's our (Teacher Advancement Program) money - and although it's one area where we do have control over the school system - from all indications, it's been very successful, so I would hate to see us lose that program. I don't think it's a wise move right now. With the money from the Great Schools – that goes with paying teachers on their performance and that's what people have demanded. That we reward the teachers.
Me: Commissioner Amy Broyles is looking at restoring the $100,000 cut to Ijams Nature Center.
Burchett: Yes, we took that money out and they're talking about putting it back in. Well, we've got to make cuts and that's an area where we think we should. It's better than cutting people.
Me: What about dipping into the reserves?
Burchett: Ah, no. That's just bad news. We need to be very careful about that. We have to have at least $26 million that we can't touch to balance out against our debt, which is a best practice procedure – what the bonding agencies told us. So that means we have $10 million. If there is an emergency, a tornado, then we'll need that. We need it for real emergencies. We did that once before with the sheriff's automobiles over my protest. Members said that was one-time deal, but how many one-time deals are we going to have.