Anderson County is a wonderful place to live and work. Our economy should easily out-perform Knox County’s. Yet, we consistently fail to do so—and our County Commission seems to be asleep. Between 2000 and 2010, Anderson County grew at only 41 percent of Knox County’s growth rate. That’s unacceptable.
Over the next decade, Anderson County taxpayers will pay close to $2 million in salary and medical/dental/retirement benefits for its county commissioners. The commission needs to get focused and get busy. Our economy was dealt a significant blow when the commission opted for an expensive jail expansion. Commissioners could have sought support from a newly-elected Republican governor for more time to resolve jail overcrowding through less-costly administrative means—but did not. Instead, they chose the jail expansion, ignoring its impact on our taxes and our economy.
The commissioners made a second error when they passed the jail expansion without dealing with the new jail’s increased operating costs. This mistake drove jail costs even higher and raised the real possibility of a second tax increase. Thankfully, a second increase was prevented by the efforts of Mayor Frank.
Beyond their costly jail decisions, the commission has continued to drag its feet on the serious DOE residency problem. This problem costs Anderson County a quarter billion dollars in annual DOE payroll. That’s a quarter billion dollars—each year—that Anderson County sends to Knox County to expand their retail sector, lower their taxes, and grow their schools. It’s time to face this issue and solve it.
We need new County Commissioners who can get us results—people like Anthony Allen. Compare the “Pro-Growth” discussion on Mr. Allen’s website to the websites of incumbent commissioners, and you’ll see what I mean. Fresh faces like Anthony Allen will say: “Come live in Anderson County; we are going to compete!”
In addition to electing new commissioners, I hope you will retain Mayor Terry Frank for another term. In the face of major pressure to increase tax rates, she held the line, showing remarkable determination and courage. Mayor Frank is a thoughtful, results-oriented leader who has done a wonderful job while in office. We need her strong leadership at this critical time in our county.
We also need to re-elect Judge Don Layton. While the Commission was busy passing the buck to taxpayers on jail overcrowding, Judge Layton stepped forward with solid solutions. His personal initiative to develop a pioneering electronic monitoring program saved Anderson County over $300,000, and it eased jail overcrowding. This is another example of the strong leadership we need.
When you go to the polls, please consider Anthony Allen, Terry Frank, Judge Don Layton—and all the Commission candidates not currently serving on the Commission. You can find the names of your incumbent Commissioners at www.andersontn.org. You can also call the Anderson County Election Commission at (865) 457-6238 and ask them who your current Commissioners are, so you can vote for someone else.
The Anderson County Commission needs a wake-up call.