Why do our elected officials believe that mandated property taxes forced from citizens is their fun money? Citizens pay mandated property taxes for chartered or constitutional city and county essential services. Let me repeat, essential services. When taxes are forced from citizens, it is a reasonable expectation that the funds are spent on infrastructure and essential services.
I am not sure when our Hamilton County Commission voted to give themselves $100,000 annually for each of the nine commissioners, or $900,000 annually to spend at their discretion. It sounds harmless in concept, but it is being abused by converting our taxes to their favorite non-profit charity.
For instance County Commissioner Tim Boyd donated $20,000 of our taxpayer-funded "campaign" - I mean "discretionary" - funds to ArtsBuild, formerly Allied Arts. Each year, the city of Chattanooga also converts our property tax dollars to their favorite charity, ArtsBuild, in the amount of $275,000. At a time when people are hurting financially and the poverty rate in Chattanooga is 30 percent, why is ArtsBuild a taxpayer responsibility?
What are the city and county elected officials thinking spending $275,000 (city) and $20,000 (county) on donating public money with funds forced from citizens?
I also understand that Hamilton County is using reserve funds to fund their entire budget without cuts. This $900,000 in discretionary funds for the Hamilton County Commissioners needs to end. I guess citizens would have to petition because elected officials are not going to vote to take away their discretionary political spending.
If Commissioner Tim Boyd gave Allied Arts $20,000 of his own money that would have genuinely been a good deed, but he did not. Commissioner Boyd has again converted our mandated property taxes to his favorite charity. It is no challenge to mandate or force funds from citizensand then covert the funds to an elected official’s favorite non-profit charity. That is precisely what the City Council and the Hamilton County Commission have done - given $295,000 so far of our property tax dollars to their favorite political charity. For those that would say, it is all for the children’s good. I suggest you examine the makeup of the ArtsBuild Board and ArtsBuild IRS filings for salaries.
Why do any of our elected officials believe that mandated property taxes paid by citizens are their funds to convert to a favorite non-profit charity? If people wish to donate to ArtsBuild, they should, voluntarily, but property taxes are not the city of Chattanooga or County Commissions' play money.
The list of non-profits that receives our local tax dollars lobby hard for our tax dollars, and our elected officials are not respecting public money. The majority of the people paying property taxes cannot afford to subsidize ArtsBuild’s CEO $130,000 a year.
Commissioner Boyd also gave $30,000 of our mandated property taxes to pay Gandhi’s grandson's speaking fees to fly from India and speak, when we have the greatest civil rights trailblazers in Chattanooga. If people want to use their money, or Tim Boyd wants to use his money for charity to non-profits, go ahead.
Since when is Gandhi’s grandson or ArtsBuild a mandated function or taxpayer responsibility?
Mandated property taxes are not our elected officials' fun money.
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If Ms. Edison is going to complain about how I use my discretionary funds she needs to get the facts correct or she may just want to call me first.
Mr. Ghandi does not live in India. He lives in New York. The amount of monies spent on his visit to Chattanooga was $13,000 not $30,000. The message he sent to thousands of our youth the week he was here was remarkable. If the message that week only kept one child out of a gang the cost was well worth it to the taxpayers. Remember it cost $75,000 per year to house an inmate in Hamilton County. We may have realized a 6X return on the investment if we reached only one child. Just think of the return if we actually reached 10 or 20 kids.
The funds I donate to ArtsBuild are used to promote arts and culture throughout our county through a grant program administered by ArtsBuild. Some of the recipients last year were East Chattanooga Community, the city of Red Bank, Belvoir Neighborhood Association, and many more. All the residents of these areas pay county taxes and are getting them back to use for the good of their communities. This is not to mention the fact that the arts account for over 7,000 jobs in the region and generate millions of dollars of economic impact. Perhaps Ms. Edison has been down to John Ross Landing, or bought a ticket to Riverbend, or bought a piece of art at the Four Bridges Art Festival. Our community thrives because we understand the importance of the arts as being vital to the economic development of our community. Just last week I was fortunate to be invited to discuss a multi-million dollar private for profit project here in Chattanooga resulting from the efforts of ArtsBuild and others. This is fantastic! More jobs! Better place to live!
Another favorite charity I support with taxpayer funds is "First Things First." Through the efforts of FTF, and the program I co-sponsor, the county taxpayers have saved tens of thousands of dollars in deferred judicial costs. This is significant and I am proud of the fact the program is having such a positive economic impact saving our taxpayers money not to mention the changes in the lives of the family members served.
Other charities I support with my discretionary funds are the East Ridge High School Automotive Team, the ERHS Football team, and the ERHS Band. East Ridge High School is a Title One school, and if Ms. Edison does not know, these are financially disadvantaged kids whose parents may not be able to afford new uniforms, shoes or instruments. I am proud of our faculty at East Ridge High School and these programs. Our students deserve first class programs, and I am helping where I can.
Discretionary funds used properly can have enormous impacts on individuals as well as impact all the citizens of Hamilton County. I consider it an honor to be part of the programs I have supported and encourage others to understand why I support the local non-profits I do. Anytime the community wants to understand the why, just ask me.
Hamilton County Commissioner
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Mr. Tim Boyd said, "If Ms. Edison is going to complain about how I use my discretionary funds she needs to get the facts correct or she may just want to call me first." That is his very first sentence of his response.
The easiest money to spend, for some people, is other people's money. Mr. Boyd, the point she was trying to make, even if she didn't have the exact amounts correct and, excuse me if I am wrong, is that the Discretionary Political Spending Money should not even be available to begin with, and needs to be put back into the budget for needed services or the taxes cut. Services, services, services is what the tax money is for, don't you agree, instead of art donations of your choosing, etc? She is saying the whole concept of padding your pockets with $100,000 for each commissioner needs done away with and what fiscally minded human would not agree?
Voting yes for the Aetna Mountain Road TIF, as Mr. Tim Boyd did, speaks volumes about the judgment, or lack of, of any elected official handling your tax money and bond debt. Hamilton County Commissioner, Mr. Tim Boyd, the commissioner that enjoys spending your money while calling it "my discretionary funds," to the tune of $100,000, just doesn't get the message of what Mrs. Eidson was saying. Election time is a coming.