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Metro government
Town leaders mull scenario


The specter of a metropolitan Knox County government has once again reared its head in Knox County Commission, but the effect this possibility could have on Farragut remains nebulous.

“I don’t really know how that would affect us,” Dan Olson, town administrator, said. “They were going through that process when I first came to the town. The idea was not well-received out here for the very reasons the town was founded.”

Olson said one of the reasons for the founding of Farragut was because citizens didn’t feel they had an input and a voice in what happened in Knoxville and Knox County.

“People would go down to Knox County Metropolitan Planning Commission meetings to comment on a development and never get recognized to speak,” he said. “In Farragut, we listen to our citizens.”

Tom Hale, town attorney, said if Knox County does go metropolitan, Farragut would have a couple of options. The Board of Mayor and Aldermen could opt to hold a referendum vote to join the metropolitan government and do away with FBMA. The Board could also opt to conduct an election to decide to not join Knox County government.

“The decision would really be in the hands of the citizens,” he said.

Knox County Commissioner Scott Moore said he had the item discussing a metropolitan government placed on a recent Commission agenda in order to discuss possibilities.

In the past, one of the concerns of metropolitan government has been the debt Knoxville faces and possible transmission of that debt to the county.

“I think the way it would be done would be there would have to still be two tax districts until some of the city debt could be paid down,” Moore said. “If it did go metro, city residents would probably like to continue services such as garbage pickup, leaf pickup; services residents outside city limits do not have.”

Metro government scares people, Moore said, but the process is really about elimination of duplication of services. City and county parks and recreation departments are an example of duplicate services.

Moore said the county wouldn’t like to have to lay anyone off if these two departments are combined, but acknowledged retaining all employees from the two departments would be counterproductive to the elimination of duplicate services and saving money.

“We’d probably look at offering some early retirement packages and moving others around,” he said. “We don’t want to have to lay off anyone.”

There are still many factors that would have to be decided, including whether certain county offices would be filled through an appointment process or through public elections.

“I’m definitely not in favor of appointment to positions,” Moore said. “I favor a more public process.”

Questions regarding the future of certain businesses also are up in the air, such as Rural/Metro. If the town decided to join the metro government, would Knoxville Fire Department build stations out here, or would Rural/Metro continue to offer subscription services to Farragut residents?

“There’s a lot of details that remain to be discussed and worked out if the county chooses metro government,” Moore said.

 

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