More than 60 folks showed for a forum in Greenback hosted by Friendsville resident Jim Folts, who is running for the District VII, Seat B commission seat.
The reception/workshop was held at the Greenback Community just over the county line from District VII. “The reason we chose Greenback is District 7 runs from Happy Valley all the way to Friendsville,” Folts said. “If you look at a map, Greenback is the closest place where we could find a community hall in the center of the district. District 7 covers lot of real estate.”
Folts said several people counted between 60 and 70 people at the workshop. “I was pleasantly surprised. That was gratifying,” he said. “We had lots of questions after the presentation.”
The presentation entitled “Do You Know Where Your Money Is?” was about 40 minutes long. “I started out by explaining the reason you follow the money is it reveals what real priorities of government are,” he said. “You can listen to a lot of talk about what’s important, but when you follow the money, you find out what people are really doing, not just what they’re saying.”
Folts said he showed graphs that track the county portion of school funding since 2006, saying it has dropped and hasn’t kept up with inflation. “The reason for that is going back to 2006 and in again in 2007, the county changed the portion of real estate tax dollars allocated to schools. Going back to 2006, schools should be getting 49.6 cents of every real estate tax dollar, and today they’re only getting a little over 42 cents. That makes a big difference,” he said. “The result of that change of allocation is the school are getting a lot less money, and the county general fund is getting a lot more money and that showed in the numbers.”
Folts said the Highway Department has also been getting less the past few years. “It turns out the road fund has not kept pace with inflation either,” he said. “In fact we’re spending 5 percent less on roads than five years ago.”
Folts said general fund spending has increased 2 and half times the rate of inflation in the same time period. “The bottom line is we are taking money from schools and roads and putting it into the general fund and is that what we really want?” he said.
Folts said the county’s debt fund, and interest and fees on the debt have grown nine and half times the rate of inflation. “Obviously, at that kind of growth rate, it could overwhelm everything else,” he said.
Tom Greene and Tom Cole are also running in the District VII, Seat B Republican primary.