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presstalk 671-TALK


• I can’t believe the billboard companies have the kind of clout they have in the state legislature allowing them to butcher trees just to enhance the visibility of their billboards. Has anyone witnessed the barbaric actions along the Interstate, westbound across from Turkey Creek? What a mess of those gorgeous trees. When is this insanity going to stop?

• Hi, it’s that time of year and kids are now signing up for their classes for school next year, and I just found out that to be in the Hardin Valley [Academy] band next year, it will cost each student over $500 apiece to be in marching band. I think in this time, when the economy is so bad, they need to do something about this price, because kids can’t afford that. They need to stop these outrageous trips or fancy uniforms or whatever they’re doing, because $500 just to be in band one semester is totally ridiculous. Other schools don’t charge that much, and even if they did, it’s still not right. Thank you.

• OK. On selling wine in grocery stores: I’ve got mixed feelings on it. Yes, it would be convenient; but [inaudible] hurt small business owners. Using the “Oh, because gas is getting expensive” as an argument towards wine in grocery stores is one of the most asinine points of logic I’ve ever heard. If grocery stores are going to be allowed to sell wine, liquor stores should be allowed to sell beer. Fair is fair; we need an equal playing field. With idiotic programs like NAFTA that have sent so many of our jobs overseas, and with the current administration as well as previous administrations who refuse to stand up to China or Mexico when it comes to import/export regulations [inaudible] and products, the American people are having more and more of their jobs taken away, especially small business. And this country was built on small business. Middle class working America is being eroded. Now, you may not think that selling wine in a grocery store would be a major contributing factor to this, but it all adds up. So if you want wine in grocery stores, fine. You have the right to your opinion. But tell our legislature to allow liquor stores to sell beer. Keep the playing field even. Protect our small businesses.


• What was the original vision for the city of Farragut? Does anybody know? Sure like to hear your comments. Thank you.

Editor’s Note: That subject will be explored in a soon-to-be-written book commissioned by the Town.

• After reading your articles on the Town staff being underpaid followed by Property Tax proposed as possible future revenue shortfall solution, I thought a better title would be The Road to Wisconsin. Can you enlighten us as to what the other comparable organization that the town was compared to and if they have a Property Tax to pay for those salaries? The Town pays 100 percent for [its] employees and families for health, dental, vision, life insurance and long-term disability. How does that compare to what one receives in the private sector, that is, if one has a job? A new compensation plan (pay raises) and additional fringe benefits were suggested including longevity pay, retiree health insurance and short-term disability insurance. It was noted that the Town does not participate in Social Security, so does the city pay for an employee’s retirement plan and are these future obligations paid for or are they based on future revenues? Then, concerning revenue and expenditures, local sales tax is up 6.8 percent, state sales tax up due to our population increase and with some questions concerning the state budget, the discussion was where to get additional funds and not where to cut expenses if there is a shortfall. Of course, a new Property Tax was the first to show its ugly head and then a tax on businesses. Both of these are unacceptable. For the person retired or hoping to retire, this would add another unnecessary burden. For the businesses in town, this would add an additional cost to doing business. For working families, it tightens an already stretched budget. The worst prospect about these revenue proposals is that once in place, they will not go away because evidentially the Town is not able of living within the monies they receive. Finally, having lived in Farragut before it was incorporated; one of the reasons given to form the Town was to insure that we would not be paying additional taxes other than County. I believe your picture of the Farragut resident seeing notice of a proposed tax increase was appropriate and would suggest that if the Town cannot control its costs and future obligations without taxes, then it has no reason to exist.

• Via presstalk@farragutpress.com: It was stated that the employees in Farragut are underpaid (comparable) but receive higher benefits. Simple solution: cut their benefits and give them more money. I am sure that it all works out in the end. My family has to pay out of pocket for all benefits and it is not cheap. In addition, did anyone take in to considerations that those other Towns/Cities are just overpaid ... most towns/cities, states and the federal government are currently in a budget crisis. Government needs to learn to budget their purse just like most families living across the country, not ask for more money possibly in the form of a city tax. The town doesn’t need more money; they just need a better/tighter budget.

• Via presstak@farragutpress.com: Last week, my husband was on Grigsby Chapel Road, when a car followed by an ambulance on a call approached from the opposite direction. The driver of the car quite properly pulled to the side as required by law. The only problem is that the ambulance was unable to pass due to the calming island. Tell Ms. [Ruth] Hawk that I hope her concern for the safety of Farragut’s citizens includes those in need of ambulance services. (By the way, I have never seen her walking, biking or crossing streets. Does she even leave her kingdom? (queendom?)

Editor’s Note: State law requires motorists to pull over in safe areas, not immediately if it would block the road. Ruth Hawk, Farragut community development director, does not vote for projects to be built in the town of Farragut — including the Grigsby Chapel Road islands. The Board of Mayor and Aldermen make those decisions.

• Via presstalk@farragutpress.com: Why does the town of Farragut allow the post office facility directly across the street from their offices to look soooo bad!? The grounds are all grown up and they have not trimmed bushes in years. They normally don’t even bother to cut the grass until it is 3-inches high. If the post office is broke and can’t afford lawn care the town should do it with their employees just so it doesn’t look so nasty! They should at least send them notice of compliance.

Editor’s Note: The town of Farragut is not authorized to maintain federal property.

• Via e-mail: Thursday, I was nearly in an accident at a red-light monitored intersection in Farragut, and I am incredibly grateful the cameras are there. I was sitting on Smith Road waiting at the red light to turn left onto Kingston Pike. When the light turned green, I pressed the gas. I was several feet past the white line when I noticed movement from the corner of my eye. I slammed on my brakes just as another driver ran the red light and blew past me, coming within inches of my front bumper. I couldn’t tell you the type of car it was, and certainly not the license plate number. But those cameras can. And I’m comforted by the fact that in a week or so, that driver will get a ticket for a paltry, in my opinion, $50. The cameras don’t stop every idiotic driver, but they do punish them. $50 is a small price for preventing accidents. Thanks, Farragut, for making us all safe(r) drivers.

• Via e-mail: The article [concerning TCRS and the Town] has a single statement towards the end, which indicates that employees will have to contribute 6.2 percent to Social Security. This not only impacts the employee, it will also show up as a separate line item in the Town’s budget, since Social Security requires an employer to contribute an equal amount to the plan. Along with this comes a Medicare contribution of 1.45 percent. This equates to a hidden cost increase of 7.65 percent to the Town’s budget. Even the lowest cost numbers provided by TCRS are a net increase to the current town contribution of 8 percent to the employee benefits. As is the case with government in general: Farragut needs to take [its] head out of the sand, address the entire employee benefits package. The days of fully funded pension plans by an employer are over; make the matching contribution to their 401Ks. The days of accruing eight hours a month sick leave are over; give the employees the typical three or four days a year personnel time, to be used for illness or errands. Vacation time is typically two or three or four weeks depending on years of service, not 96 hours, or 144 hours, or 192 hours a year, which is the current practice. It’s time to fix the real issues and modernize these benefit plans. It is unsettling to me that we can pay someone to study salary and tell us that we pay people 1 or 2 percent lower than the norm, yet we never hear about the areas of benefit packages which are way above the norm.

 

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