I want to hear from you on all issues, here are a few of the most talked about concerns and my current positions. PLEASE contact me and give me your opinion, after all it is YOUR County and YOUR voice!
Bedford County is in the lower 1/3 of all 95 Tennessee counties in per capita income. To help our neighbors improve their lives, we must encourage businesses to locate here to create new and better paying jobs. To do that, we must place ourselves in a position to have "ready to build" development sites. These sites must also be available as a bargaining chip in negotiations to attract new companies. We have already missed out on several opportunities to even be considered because we did not have publicly owned industrial property to offer. With the 86 acre 231 N Commerce Park on Frank Martin Road, Bedford County is now in a position to vie for new industry wishing to locate in Middle Tennessee.
Small business is the backbone of our community and our nation, and provides more jobs than the big corporations combined.. We MUST find ways to ease the taxes and regulations that unjustly burden them and commit to enhance their ability to grow and thrive.
Bedford County schools are busting at the seams. A new Cascade High is under construction. Recently a decision was made to add a wing to Learning Way Elementary. That will not be enough... every Elementary school has portables and given the ever increasing influx of people from Rutherford and Williamson counties who are moving here to escape the high property values and property taxes of those counties, more and more schools will need to be built or expanded.
I am all for providing for the needs for our children, I am however against waste and mismanagement. Over the years it seems that the School Board and the County Commission are always at odds over funding. By state law, the County Commission can only say "yay" or "nay" to school budget requests, they have no say whatsoever on how the money is spent, whether that money is spent on buildings, teacher salaries, school buses, or travel expenses....and disagreements on that has created some friction between the two Boards.
The simple truth is Bedford County and all its divisions, including schools, spends around 100 million dollars a year. The school system alone spends 70% of that or about 70 million dollars. Only about 35 million of the revenue is collected locally with the other 65 million being grants or funding from State and Federal agencies. Of the locally raised revenue, about 1/2 goes to the schools either directly to their General Budget or to the County's Debt Service to pay the bill for building the schools which is just under $70 million dollars. I've often heard the County does not spend enough for the schools... how much more than 70% of all revenue is needed?
I would love to see more co-operation between the Commission and the BoE in developing a realistic plan to meet the needs of education and the County.
The need for a new jail is far past debate. Without the actions taken, the County would be in Federal Court with no say in what was to come, and in the mean time we would be transporting inmates back and forth to other county jails from Memphis to Johnson City and paying the bill which would be in the millions, not to mention giving a basis for every inmate to file a personal lawsuit against the County who would have little defense in court.
There is still debate over design and costs for the new facility. I was opposed to adding the Justice Center at this time and fought to have it a separate building to be added later so we could move forward with the jail. I lost those battles and in the end voted for the Justice Center construction budget of almost 33 million to keep the State satisfied that Bedford County was acting in good faith and keep us out of Federal Court.
I will continue to fight to keep the project under the existing approved budget and not vote for any expansion that will ultimately increase our taxes.
Since we have entered into the ISWA and disbanded our local Solid Waste board, I am concerned we are not looking to the future needs. In less than 10 years (recent reports say as soon as 5) the Rutherford County landfill will be nearing the end of its operation. I would support a study group to begin looking towards that day when we will need options on solid waste. I encourage a more aggressive plan on recycling such as recycling containers at ALL convenience centers, an educational program for our citizens and making home recycling bins available for purchase.
As a Republican I stand for lower taxes, smaller government and limited regulations. Since becoming a commissioner in 2014 I have fought against higher taxes.
In 2015, I voted against a proposed hike in taxes because no decision had been made as to any of the details of building a jail / justice center or school.
In 2016, I did vote for a tax increase... read the above section on JAIL for my reasoning.. I simply felt there was no other choice to keep the state at bay concerning the jail, and I was NOT going to vote for a jail before I voted for a school. I did campaign against a wheel tax that year and was a principle cause of it being placed on the ballot for the citizens to decide.
In June 2017 I fought against another tax increase, simply because we could have hired the 7 new employees using current revenue. I was told there was ZERO room to move the budget estimates to find $300,000 for the new hires, but just a few weeks later $185,000 was found to adjust the BoE budget and I was told it "was no big deal" to adjust the estimate. Again, in September, the Finance Department was able to locate over $500,000 a year to pay for an expansion to the design of the Justice Center. We couldn't afford $300,000 without a tax increase, but in less than 90 days could find almost $700,000... things that make you go hmmmm.
TAX FREEZE and TAX RELIEF
The State of Tenn. offers 2 different programs to help the elderly, disabled, and veterans with their property taxes. Each program has a different set of rules and guidelines to qualify for participation. Each program must be adopted by a resolution of the County Commission before it may be available to County citizens. At present the only program adopted by Bedford County is the TAX RELIEF program where qualifying homeowners may get a rebate on a portion of their taxes. The full rules and guidelines are too lengthy to post here. Click the link below to go to the State Comptrollers website for a full explanation or contact the Bedford County Trustees office.
I fully support anything to help the elderly, disabled and veterans of Bedford County.
UPDATE Sept 26, 2017:
It seems as if a political opponent has recently accused me of being opposed to greenbelt taxation.
The greenbelt taxation is an absolute necessity for our farmers and I am totally in favor of it. The law was enacted by the Tennessee General Assembly with the enforcement of it charged to the Property Assessors office. Ronda Clanton has done, and is doing, an excellent job and I fully support her. But, as with most things involving government and money, there are those who will sidestep, disregard or take advantage of the law, and that is why I was in favor of an audit...not to punish farmers but to ensure everyone was playing fairly.. and until the General Assembly choses to look at it again (and I don’t think they will) nothing is going to change.
See my Blog for a full recap of all my involvement on this issue.
I am a Conservative Republican
I believe in smaller, more efficient, less intrusive government which will result in fewer taxes.
I support the 2nd Amendment right to own and bear arms. I have a CCW permit.
I support the Right to Life.
As a Christian, I believe Charity begins at home, but that we have a duty to care for the aged and in-firmed. I support the Senior Citizen's Center.
I believe that the government's duty is to it's citizens first.
I support locally controlled public education for our children.
I support the rule of law and law enforcement.
I voted for and support the President of the United States, Donald J. Trump.