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The Farmers Market, the wheel tax, and the new school

Today is Election Day and the undecided voters must make an important decision. Who should they vote for in the race for Knox County Mayor? I suggest you consider the important aspect of fiduciary responsibly. How well has our current County Mayor managed the County’s finances? Not very well at all.

Knox County Mayor Mike Ragsdale has made the newfound “harmony” between his office and the office of Knoxville City Mayor Bill Haslam a central point of his administration. It is one of the crowning achievements of his first administration.

Harmony sounds like a good thing; but in the history of the human race we have learned that harmony is not always what it appears to be. Neville Chamberlain thought there could be “peace in our time”, yet the harmony was only a bitter illusion.

Politicians through out history have told us of new and exciting ways that we can all get along. People want harmony. It is a natural human desire. So how has the new harmony business between the City of Knoxville and Knox County gone in this new era of understanding?

It has been a great deal for the City of Knoxville. Take for example the City’s plunder of the old Farmers Market. You see Knox County spent over 12 million dollars purchasing the land and creating the Farmers Market and an additional 7 million dollars over the next eight years operating it. It was Knox County’s “White Elephant”, our version of the Convention Center.

What happened with the old Farmers Market demonstrates that Mayor Ragsdale is not a good financial steward of the taxpayer’s money. The old Farmers Market was sold at a bargain price of 7.64 million dollars to Target for 30.56 acres of property and abandoned buildings that would have to be torn down. Then Target turned around and offered to sell 18.5 “excess” acres of land it did not need for 7.6 million dollars. Any red flags yet?

I know, it sounds awful. Could it possible get any worse? Is this Knox County? It can. The City of Knoxville decided to annex the Target so Knox County would lose the very important sales taxes.

What did Knox County Mayor Mike Ragsdale do? He encouraged the plan. Yes, you read that correctly. Up until this time of new harmony the previous Knox County Executives Dwight Kessel and Tommy Schumpert would wage war in the courtroom over such nonsense. But Neville, er, the County Mayor had different ideas.

It gets worse if you can believe it. The City then wanted to give Target a C-4 zoning that would harm the surrounding community and then Mayor Ragsdale had to come and fight with the community to wage a war over the proposed City zoning. It would have been better if the new harmony had not existed to begin with.

So how does this tie into the wheel tax and the new West Knox High School? Do the math. If Target could turn around and offer for sale 18.5 acres for the same price it paid for 30.56 acres what does that tell you about the sales price? That maybe it was 7.6 million dollars to low? How much sales tax would a Target generate for Knox County in ten years? I do not know, but lets agree it would be several million dollars. Say 3 million dollars.

So you take the 7.6 million lost on the sale of the property and the 3 million lost in sales tax and now you have the missing 10 million dollars needed for the new West Knox High School.

Does that sound like good financial management to you?

Go out today and vote for Steve Hall. I did and you should too.

2 Responses to “The Farmers Market, the wheel tax, and the new school”

  1. Barry Says:

    No offense, but you know, you didn’t vote for Steve Hall – you voted against Mike Ragsdale. Which is fine. But shouldn’t you have some reason for voting for Hall, other than he’s Not!Ragsdale?

    I’m sure enough people voted for Kerry because he was Not!Bush and Bush because he was Not!Kerry and I’m even considering Randy Tyree because he’s Not!Hutchison, but at least I’m fairly familiar with Tyree, having grown up with him as mayor.

    What do you think are Hall’s qualifications that would make him a good county execu–, er mayor?

  2. #9 Says:

    What do you think are Hall’s qualifications that would make him a good county execu–, er mayor?

    You were going to say County Executive, which I think, is the proper title. It is an executive position. In the Ragsdale administration it morphed into a political position. Ragsdale increased the Mayoral staff salaries by over $230,000 per year and Mike Arms does a lot of the actual job of Mayor. While that is legal and is also done in a similar way in the City of Knoxville and other cities I do not like that form of government. Where do I vote for Mike Arms? He is not on the ballot.

    I believe Steve Hall has done a good job on City Council and will make a good Mayor. When you look at his votes on City Council they show good financial management and an understanding of what the taxpayers want as opposed to what the political machine wants. He often votes with Rob Frost and Joe Hultquist.

    I value Steve Hall’s independence and that he understands who he represents. I understand he is not a great orator like Mike Ragsdale but he is also not a talking head for a public relations firm.

    It gets down to respect. I want a County Executive who respects the taxpayers. Steve Hall will do that. He has done it on City Council. I also like he fact that he is comfortable in his own skin. No blow dryer required.

    I voted for Steve Hall and against Mayor Ragsdale. It was a combined vote.