Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Burchett weighs in on proposals

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.


Brian Paone said...

* Cut the $47,500 from TYP and put it in the KAT Senior Services column. Kills two birds with one transfer.

* Did you know that in the past two years alone, Beck has received $375,000? In those same two years, a paltry-by-comparison $60,000 was divvied up amongst the following:

- Blount Mansion (first territorial capital of Tennessee; home of the Southwest Territory's only governor - quite historical)

- The Mabry-Hazen House (home of the "mercurial" businessman Joseph Mabry II; quite possibly one of Knoxville's best Civil War museums; also maintains Bethel Cemetary which is the final resting place of "over 1600" Confederate soldiers according to their website)

- James White Fort (you know, the guy that kinda sorta built the whole damn town in 1796)

- Marble Springs (home of a one Governor John Sevier, Head Asskicker at the Battle of Kings Mountain, etc, etc.)

- And the Ramsey House. (Okay, so this one's home to the area's first developer. But the Ramsey family as a whole was pretty kind to Knoxville, weren't they?)

That's not only absurd, it's patently unfair. And since the Beck supporters are howling about fairness (and not at all about Racist Rollins' unfounded and abhorrent reaction to criticism of his outfit), I'd like to propose a bit of a "Solomon Solution".

...oh, wait. It's already been done. Everybody gets $12k. No special treatment for anybody (except the WBHoF, and I still don't know if there's a reason for that or not - like a contract or something. I don't pay much attention to hoops of any kind.)

Huh. I don't see what's so "unfair" about that, Beckies. (You like that, Donlia? "Beckies"? I like that. New nickname for supporters coined.) But I certainly see what's unfair about giving Beck another $150k while we spend just $72k divided among six other extremely important pieces of Knoxville history. (Good to see the local Civil War Alliance dealt into the hand this year.)

So, unless someone can prove how the current proposal is UNFAIR, then moving on.

(I still don't believe any organization headed by a racist should receive ANY taxpayer dollars, though. I mean, in order to be fair for THAT, we're gonna have to kick out some coin to the KKK. And that's a pretty lousy idea. So why fund THIS racist?)

* The wife said cut the $16,000 from KARM's Crossroads Welcome Center and do something else with it. (She didn't say what.) I agree. Burt Rosen gets paid $140k+ according to the Shed's Big Book O' Lists Or Whatever They Call It, so let HIM fund it.

Honestly, making $140k+ as head of a homeless shelter. Real selfless, Burt. Real selfless. (I don't care what you do with it. No one working in your position should make even half of that, because that role in society requires truly altruistic people. Taking $140k+ in salary ain't exactly altruistic.)

I'd say use $2500 of it to fully fund KAT's Senior Initiative, and put the rest toward the Knoxville Volunteer EMS.

* Cut commission discretionary spending to zero, because the Knox County Commission really doesn't need to be trusted with any more money than is strictly necessary. Let's not forget, a fair amount of Black Wednesday holdovers are still on the Commission. They haven't paid back that debt of trust yet. Not by a long shot. No money for them.

(I think a salary cut's in order, too. Man up, Commissioners, and sacrifice some of your own damn coin for a change. You've cost us plenty.)

* I don't understand what the Community Mediation Center does, even after looking over their website. Do we have to fund that?

(continued - damned character limits.)

Brian Paone said...

(from previous)

* I have no idea how we're going to get a pay increase to the people that need it the most - those making $40k/year or less. Too bad we spend so damned much on indigent medical care. (Thanks, Burt.) That'd be the plum I'd pick.

Why DO we spend so much on indigent healthcare, anyway? (Does the answer reside at 418 N. Broadway? I'll be pissed if it does.)

* I'm wondering if CAC's role should be scaled back a bit. They seem to have a number of overlapping services, especially when it comes to the young'ns.


I mean, 15 separate initiatives for one group is a bit much in my view. What happens if half of them are cut and the work of the cut programs "outsourced", so to speak, to other local agencies? Just an idea.

* I don't know why PBA's budget is so large, but I bet Bob Rountree would. I don't know anyone more knowledgeable about the PBA. Wish I still had his number or email.

* The Property Assessor's office is looking for another $550k or so over and above what they got last year? Why? That's a pretty hefty jump.

Sheriff's Admin is looking for another $3 million or so for some reason.

I don't understand why the jail commissary needs $600k+. Unless that's the fund we use to feed our prisoners.

...wait, how much of that is Leslie Janous eating? (Couldn't resist.)

Seriously, though, if it's just the "jail store" fund, cut the hell out of it. They're in jail. They don't need anything fancy. Or deserve it, in the vast majority of cases.

* Looks like KTSC is Knox County's "marketing arm", so to speak. And they do a pretty good job of it, but I don't know about $2.3 million good.

I'd love to see a full audit of KTSC, too - if only to have a better gauge of how they're performing and what they're spending money on, exactly.

I have a feeling they're doing an acceptable job, but the KnoxViews crowd is really butthurt about the money they're getting. Maybe a full audit'll shut 'em up. (Doubtful.)


But that's about all I can find. Gotta hand it to Troyer; he crafts a mean budget. Love Burchett's "no-tax-increase" approach and his connection with the taxpayers when he says "taxpayers' belts are tightening, so we have to do the same".

Of course, I doubt Commission will listen or care. (Especially Sam McKenzie, who thinks Knox County will be fine if we take $360k from our Public Works fund and dole it out to his pet projects, including DOUBLING discretionary spending for Commissioners. Wow. Everyone's broke, but sure, Sam. Give yourself more of our money, you f*&^ing idiot.)

So maybe we need final say in the matter. More on that June 14th.