Friday, June 3, 2011

County spin: date, debt and more

The county commission will move its special called budget meeting date one day ahead, but if you read the mayor's spin release you'd think this was some insanely breaking news item.

In the latest Michael “Communications Director” Grider spin, county Mayor Tim Burchett “stresses the need to pass a fiscally responsible “ blah, blah, blah, budget.


Start digging into those reserves, mayor. Heh.

Can't forget that the spin release also mentions Burchett's bogeyman – the county debt. There's not a whole lot of fist-bumping going on in that office when you talk about the debt. Even though, Knox County has super low taxes and fat reserve tank.

In a quote that is no-doubt cooked up by Grider and the administration's chief of staff, Dean Rice, the mayor is attributed with saying: “When I visited all nine commission districts to discuss this plan with taxpayers, citizens consistently said they agreed with the need to eliminate unnecessary spending . . . “

(I say that because Burchett is much more quotable.)

Whatever. You can read the mess yourself.

On a side note, the commission meeting has been moved to June 14, although you wouldn't know that because it says “May 14." It's also at 3 p.m.
Knoxville, Tenn. — At the request of the Knox County Commission, Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett’s special called budget meeting that was scheduled for Monday, May 13, has been moved to Tuesday, May 14, at 3 p.m. As discussions about Mayor Burchett’s FY2011-2012 general budget proposal enter into their final two weeks, Mayor Burchett stresses the need to pass a fiscally responsible budget focused on decreasing our debt and preserving our emergency reserves.

Since Mayor Burchett presented his budget proposal to Commission, the board has heard from department heads and other elected officials who represent more than 92 percent of the entire budget, and they all said their proposed funding was sufficient to maintain services in Knox County.

“I appreciate the way Commissioners have engaged the public in the budget process, and I’m thankful that they have taken time to meet with me and my staff to go over the details of this proposal,” Mayor Burchett said. “When I visited all nine commission districts to discuss this plan with taxpayers, citizens consistently said they agreed with the need to eliminate unnecessary spending, pay down our debt, keep taxes low, protect our general fund emergency reserve, and efficiently providing services to our taxpayers.”

Since 2001, Knox County’s debt has more than doubled, and is now higher than the current year’s operating budget of $647 million.

“That is not healthy,” Mayor Burchett said. “However, my budget proposal puts Knox County on pace to reduce our debt by more than $100,000 over the next five years. If you’re a private citizen raising a family and meeting a household budget, you’re tightening your belt and trying to avoid debt. That is what Knox County should be doing.”
UPDATE: Grider sent this out shortly after: "My apologies for not making it clear, but the location of the meeting is unchanged, it will still be held in the main assembly room." No mention yet of the date.

UPDATE II: More from the spin doctor: "Ok, I would say it’s been a long week, but I was off Monday, so that won’t fly. The correct date of the meeting is JUNE 14, not May 14, as the first version of the release stated."

Three correction in one hour. Heck, you'd think a News Sentinel reporter wrote this spin release: "I promise this is the last correction – none of them should have been needed to begin with. In both versions of the release, I mistyped $100,000,000 as $100,000 in the last paragraph referring to the amount the debt would potentially be paid down."

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