Methinks They Doth Protest Too Much

May 28, 2011
By

So, there are a lot of folks who are mad because of the proposed tax increase. And while I understand it- especially coming on the heels of the 50% (total) raise on the water and sewer- what I can’t understand is the attitude of some folks about it. For example, resident Gwen Anthony is organizing a protest before the workshop on Thursday (5:00, public hearing starts at 4:30, at City Hall).

I find it interesting that citizens would protest a tax increase when I’ve heard there’s been complaints that they had to patrol their own streets because there weren’t enough police officers. Last I checked the police don’t work for free. I didn’t know it was possible to pull money out of thin air to pay these guys with. If so, someone needs to teach me the secret of how to do that, because I need money, ha.

I have some questions for everyone who is so irate about the possible tax hike: Are you spending this much time and energy protesting to gas companies and planning pickets on them? Are you spending any of your energy protesting to NES?

If you have a $150,000 house, the increase is about $15 per month. And here’s a real-life example of how much water is going up, from my own water bill:

From my latest water bill: Water = 11.73 Sewer = 14.47 total= $26.20
After increase: 11.73 * .4 = 4.69 + 11.73 = $16.42 (water)
14.47 * .6 = 8.82 +14.47 = $23.15 (sewer)
Total of bill after the increase = $39.57.
There is an additional $3.50 for stormwater drainage and it looks like roughly 5% tax, but neither of those fees are increasing.

As you can see, prices are going up, but the rumors of $100 water bills for average families are greatly exaggerated.

So why are they putting so much effort into protesting a tax increase that is proposed by good people, who only have the city’s best interests at heart? They are not doing this to line their pockets. I know them all personally and can attest to their good intentions. They’re not in this for the money- the office of Mayor pays $15,000 a year and Alderman pays $3600 a year. And unlike other politicians, they’re not going to finish their appointments significantly richer than they were before they took office. You think on that for a moment.

Yanno, our local officials and city workers get yelled at every single day because someone’s grass is too high or because a city worker hasn’t come to rake the leaves out of the drain in someone’s front yard. I have witnessed this kind of behavior myself when I was at City Hall. But how are they going to enforce codes without workers? How do they do this on their own, with no money?

We NEED more police officers on the street. I’ve seen people make the remark that citizens need to be protecting themselves, but I think this is a foolish and extremely dangerous thing to say. For one, there are many people out there that DO NOT need to own guns. I will defend the right to own a gun down to my last breath, but people need to keep in mind that not everyone can or should own guns. We need police. We need firefighters. And we need enough of them so we’re not stretching our officers thin and putting their lives in more danger than they already are.

This is like a feeding frenzy – a living river full of piranhas waiting to tear people apart who are doing their very best to fix our roads and water lines and bring in new business. It’s no wonder all the other administrations just threw in the towel and didn’t give a shit about what happened to the town. Frankly, at this point I think WE DESERVE WHAT WE GET.

If you want more for this town, then let’s get a group of protesters together who will SHOW THEIR SUPPORT! I have my sign already planned – MY CHILD’S PROTECTION IS WORTH IT. What say you, LaVergne?

42 Responses to Methinks They Doth Protest Too Much

  1. CJ
    May 28, 2011 at 12:03 pm

    Didn’t Gwen Anthony run for public office a few years ago? That name sounds very familiar.

  2. Jerome
    May 28, 2011 at 12:12 pm

    I think the mayor want to starve out the poor blacks who live in LaVergne. This tax will not only affect the property owners but will see cost passed along to those of us who chose to rent here. Is the mayor against black people?

    • Ivy
      May 28, 2011 at 12:16 pm

      That’s ridiculous. First, as I said in the post, I know the mayor personally and she is definitely no racist. Secondly, there are people of all races who are poor in La Vergne.

      • Elizabeth
        May 28, 2011 at 8:22 pm

        count me in on the “poor” status….and I’m white…we all are affected but I don’t mind because I know this extra money from taxes will do good works…just saying

    • aunt yoya
      May 28, 2011 at 7:12 pm

      Really?! In this day and time with all the issues this city has that is your reply! We don’t want that kind of mentality here cause we love and help each other out no matter what color,how poor,no matter where you came from so I’m glad you are just a renter so maybe when your lease is up you will move and take that kind of thinking with you!!! Our Mayor and Our citizens are above that!!!!

    • Sherry
      May 28, 2011 at 11:35 pm

      Seriously? As a renter, you probably do pay a water bill, but I highly doubt you pay city taxes on your apartment, condo, house or whatever. However, you do drive on our roads and I’m sure you expect fire and police protection as much as anyone who DOES pay city taxes.

      • Sarah N
        May 29, 2011 at 12:05 am

        To be fair, his landlord probably will pass on the increase by raising rent when his lease is up.

        • Sherry
          May 29, 2011 at 9:33 am

          Okay, I’ll admit I hadn’t thought of that. :) However, with all the empty rental property around here, if he doesn’t like a rent increase to cover taxes, then relocate to something cheaper within LaVergne, or move out of our fair city altogether.

          • Jennifer
            May 31, 2011 at 10:53 am

            I’m sure a $15 tax increase will raise my rent at least $100! But if it wasn’t for taxes it would be for something else and probably something much less needed!

    • h.woody
      May 30, 2011 at 1:52 pm

      I HAVE NOT HERD THE MAYOR SAY ANY THING A BOUT BLACKS. THERE ARE BLACKS THAT HAVE AS MUCH MONEY AS OTHER RACES.THANK ABOUT IT.

    • June 2, 2011 at 3:13 pm

      As a African American home owner in Lavergne, and a former city employee, the mayor is not a racist. Taxes have nothing to do with race. I have known her for several years. Dont play the race card. It gets old even with blacks.

  3. Flipper
    May 28, 2011 at 12:23 pm

    Me having a gun won’t stop the guy across the street from me from selling pills. Unless I shoot him, and I’m pretty sure the law will frown on that. We need more police. I am afraid for my childrens safety when there are people coming to my block looking for drugs!

  4. Debbie Heughan
    May 28, 2011 at 2:37 pm

    I agree that not everyone should own a gun.. I do, but I am not in law enforcement & do not walk around with my gun in a holster at all times..sometimes you have to sleep & relax.. It is comforting to know that we have enough trained officers patrolling our neighborhoods so we can actually go about our lives & not have to worry constantly. Having officers patrolling is a great tool in fighting crime.. I want to live in a safe town…..I am willing to pay a little more to get that. The main question that I have for the board is ‘why can’t we just have the tax rate go to 75 cents for this next year, while cutting some of the wish list items out of the budget & then after 1 year, take another look at the budget & see if we still need another increase’…I think all the citizens & the board need to go into this with an open mind, there is no need to start throwing stones… We all just need to hear & see the facts & figures & stand together for the good of our city.. In the end what matters is that we all can still live together in peace.

  5. Debbie Heughan
    May 28, 2011 at 2:46 pm

    Oh, & before I get hit with a stone, I just wanted to make it clear that I am not taking sides..I have friends that I like & respect on all sides of this argument..I will be on the side that is going to be best for my city as I learn all the facts, because I want my investment in my home to be a good one that will not be regretted down the road. I will be at the meetings with an open mind & ears that are willing to listen & learn from the facts. I hope everyone else will be doing the same..

    • michaelinLV
      May 29, 2011 at 7:40 pm

      Debbie, I agree with your position – an increase is needed, it’s ok. But I oppose the scope of the increase.

      • Debbie Heughan
        May 30, 2011 at 7:23 pm

        I agree, I want to see all the numbers & hear the explanations for how & when the increased money will be spent. I just wish we could do it gradually each year so we can see how it all plays out.. One fear is that that big of an increase the 1st year may make everyone too comfortable with the money & then start spending on things that need to be put off until a better economic time..

  6. steve noe
    May 28, 2011 at 2:54 pm

    PROTESTERS????????? LOLMAO 1960 is BACK, I am off to get me a long hair wig and tye dye my tee and get out the Jimmy Hendrix album, anyone own a record player so I can put the music on………..I thinking Autin Powers. YEA! BABY! I never really understood all that protesting, I am to busy working and making money for my family to eat and pay bills to be protesting. Maybe I will stop crying and put my foot in the ring next time elections come around and get in the Hall and see what I can do. HMMMMM Have I been doing this all wrong all thses years?

  7. blah blah
    May 28, 2011 at 4:34 pm

    According to the city website, there is no public hearing on Thursday, June 2nd. The public hearing is on Tuesday, June 7th at 6:30 p.m. Only the workshop is Thursday.

    Here is the link to the public hearing agenda that I found: http://pubrec.lavergnetn.gov/WebLink8/DocView.aspx?id=155317

  8. Laura
    May 28, 2011 at 6:39 pm

    Ok I have done my best for the last week to keep my stress level down & not respond to these comments that I have read but I’ve had it. GET OVER IT PEOPLE! LaVergne needs help & Senna & the Alderman (with the exception of one or two) are doing everything they can to help this city. It has been ran like crap over the last several years & now the piper has shown up to collect. Yes I understand that these are hard times we live in. We had it great for awhile. My husband & I didn’t have to pay for our own insurance but guess what? We now pay $200 mos for it now but you know what? I’m glad I have freakin insurance. I can guarantee you that the minute you need a cop or a firefighter for anything you will be glad where there are enough to show up at your house regardless if it’s 1 or 6 cars that pull up! Did someone really question multiple officers showing up at a scene??!!! Give me a break.
    No one understands the frustration of not having an officer in a spot when a speeder goes by more than I do. We have issues with people speeding & running a stop sign where I live & yes I have fussed because there never seemed to be a cop around when there needed to be..so guess what? I will be happy to pay $12.00/mos. I can find the cut somewhere. I know that a lot of you may think that you can’t find a place to get the $ but how many of you buy cigarettes??? How many of you buy beer after work??? How many of you hit McD’s every day even it is the dollar menu? I for one am guilty of having done each of these before. I still buy a drink from McDs every day much to my husbands dismay. When we do our budget we figure out where we need to cut back. Unfortunately those folks that ran this city before didn’t do. That tried to make you all happy. Pat you on the backs & tell you everything was ok when in fact it was in toilet. We need police officers & fire fighters in order to get businesses in this town. Our ratings are low so they won’t come. You don’t mind using the services but you sure dont want to pay for them. The city looks like a dump. There I said it. It needs to be cleaned up & I for one am willing to do what needs to be done even if it means I have to tighten my darn belt to do it. It will pay off in the long run.
    I bet that once you folks who are unemployed & get a job at one of the businesses that finally come in here, won’t be doing a lot of complaining.
    As far as Lake Forest goes. Unfortunately a lot of people were taken advantage of & placed in homes they could not afford to begin with. It is sad however I’m not sure what we expect LaVergne to do when it’s a nationwide issue. You can thank you government for Sallie Mae failure. Again a classic case of getting in to what you can’t afford, twisting the numbers to make it look good & then they come collecting at the end. Sounds kinda like what happened with the city?
    I know that it is going to be tough on folks who lower income, I do but this is the mess we find ourselves in. Which is sad. I can guarantee you this would have been a lot worse had the state came in.
    How many of you have been to city meetings in the past to pay attention to what was going on before now? How many of you asked to see the budget before now? Hmmm. Let’s say you did..did you not notice that we were in red? Have you not questioned why things are they are or did you just wait until someone has come along to try to fix it & its cutting into your pockets?
    No one likes taxes but unfortunately it is part of life. I hate them. I wish we didn’t have to have them. That would be a perfect world & until Jesus takes us home we will see no such place.
    As far as the Mayors husband goes. How sad that is the only thing we have to be concerned with. I honestly don’t think that they are burning thru a tank of gas responding a scene. you know that is sad about this? Senna has helped so many of you before. She was at houses in the flood. She has been on the scene of everything that has happened. She in touch with her people. She helps with anything. Her husband is the same way. I for one would be happy to have him respond if I needed him & I don’t give a crap if he’s in the city vehicle or on a tricycle. I doubt any of you would.
    So come on folks. There is nothing that can be done. The numbers have been put in front of you. WE ARE BROKE!! WE ARE BROKE WE ARE BROKE! It is what it is.
    Where would you like them to get money from????? They sure don’t make it with their income.
    So Mayor Mosely & your team that is behind you? Thank you for trying your best to make this city better. Lord knows it needs it.

    • Laura
      May 28, 2011 at 6:41 pm

      Sorry for all of the bad grammar folks I was typing in an emotional hurry & missed stuff. I am literate…just hyper typing is all. lol

    • aunt yoya
      May 28, 2011 at 7:06 pm

      Amen Sister!!!!! I am so sick of everyone bashing this Board(except for 2) who are giving their all to get this city back on track. Not one of these complainers has come to the workshops or the meetings or they would know the answers to the questions/rumors they are posting!! I say move your butt to any other city or town and see how good you have it now with the low tax and water bill(even with the increases it is still lower than any one else close to us). I love this city and am proud to say I live here, I elected these officials, and I proudly stand behind them as I have been informed of why and where these increases are coming from and where its taking us. Sometimes I honestly wish there was an opt out choice for those who are truly against the tax and water increase in which case they could only get X amount of water per day and limits or no response to their emergencies and/or other city services!! Bet they’d appreciate why we are having these increases then!!

    • Debbie Heughan
      May 29, 2011 at 1:20 am

      Well said Mrs. Laura :)

  9. Debbie Heughan
    May 29, 2011 at 1:17 am

    Remember how it was on Sept. 11, 2001? I wander how many more people would have died if there were 1/3 less 1st responders that day in New York.. No one knew what was going to happen that morning, but every available policeman & fireman raced to the scene to do whatever they could do to protect & serve. Some lost there lives trying to help. You never know when something tragic is going to happen & you will be wishing there was an officer or fireman on or near the scene to help out.. some that are complaining that we don’t need more officers will be the 1st to raise Caine when they need help & can’t get it fast enough because there is a shortage of officers available to respond..The only time I have ever thought there were too many officers would be the occasions that I am getting a ticket….ooops…..When the economy is bad, it seems that crimes is on the increase..wouldn’t you rather the criminals be deterred from coming to rob,steal, & do home invasions in La Vergne….WE NEED MORE PATROL OFFICERS PERIOD…and we have to pay them somehow…

  10. Jessi
    May 29, 2011 at 2:23 am

    Ok, from the mouth of one officer on the LPD team, “the money is there to hire a few more officers, but I dont have the authority to do so”. And yeah, my child’s protection IS worth it. But take a look at the officers we do have. Half the time if they come out to a parent wanting to make a report about something that could have harmed their child in some way, the parent is told “It’s your responsibility and if you can’t handle it we can call DCS in and have your kids taken from you.” I have specifically heard one of the officers we have tell a mother that before. I have to admit that I am NOT excited about summer at all. Why? Well, for the last 2 summers I have had to call LPD out repeatedly for some jerk starting fights with my neighbor across from me. They have tried to swerve into her driveway to hit her car, driven up and down our street at 50+ MPH screaming at the top of their lungs in the middle of the night, and stealing from just about everyone in the neighborhood. Do you know what these officers tell me? “All we can do is file a report about it.” or they wont even make a report at all! So really, we need BETTER officers about as much as we need to add to the force. I can understand some sort of increase, but really? Do we REALLY need a 100% increase??? I think that might be over kill!

  11. Nikki
    May 29, 2011 at 9:00 am

    I think some of this is missing the point. I am of the opinion (which most of this conversation is, opinion) that no one should be complaining about the water bill increases because the city shouldn’t have absorbed that in the first place. Thank you to our city leaders for addressing and fixing that.

    The rest of the conversation, meaning the property tax increase, is different to me. I hope that most of us can agree that doing what is needed (increasing firefighters) to improve the way our city rates for proposed retail or other businesses is something we should work towards. Increasing business, especially retail, should have a positive impact with jobs and sales tax revenue. The question to me is, where is the money to do that going to come from? That is the same question we discuss at home when deciding to spend money on any large purchase. Yes, when I see multiple, usually more than 3, police cars at a seen, I wonder why it takes so many. Sometimes it does require more, sometimes I’d guess it doesn’t and that’s a judgement call the officers make. However, as a contributor to their salary, I feel like I have thr right to question it, just like every other decision that is made by the city, state, and federal government. Have I asked to see the budget before? No, I have not. I have lived in La Vergne for 17 months, so forgive me for not being as informed as I’d have liked in the past. I plan to fix that and I see this as the perfect opportunity. I also want to see the budget to see where the money as going before I form an opinion as to whether or not the city needs more of mine. I appreciate that the mayor is trying to please everyone amd can’t, but I also appreciate having the full picture, with which to form an educated opinion.

    Also, all this talk of city cars for the mayor makes me mad. What happened to the new to us expedition that was purchased this winter, and was purchased from a dealer with a promise of work to be done? Yes, I think that was a bad move to make that specific purchase, but again, I don’t have enough information to say if the purchase of a new to us car was needed or not.

  12. michaelinLV
    May 29, 2011 at 7:46 pm

    BTW, the “net” water increase (40% water/60% sewer) is not 50%. Because we pay more for sewer than we do water, the net effect is more like 55%.

    No, the board can’t be faulted for the water/sewer increase any more than a convenience store owner can be faulted for the price of gas. But the board can choose what rate to set our property taxes at, so I think that is where the conversation is best directed.

  13. Debbie Heughan
    May 30, 2011 at 7:26 pm

    Everyone should check with city hall, but I am pretty sure there is a public meeting at 5 PM on June 2nd, which is a Thursday.. We will be able to ask questions & get answers then. :)

    • blah blah
      May 30, 2011 at 10:57 pm

      Yes, there is a public meeting at 5:00 on Thursday, but it’s a workshop for all of the agenda items, not a public hearing for the tax rate. The public hearing for that is on Tuesday, June 7th at 6:30 p.m.

      We should all be at the public hearing to express our feelings. I personally feel that the previous city leaders kept putting too much off and now we having to pay for their mistakes. I think our current administration is trying to do their best to turn things around.

      Yes, it’s going to hurt, but you get what you pay for and we haven’t had to pay a lot for a long time. We’ve had the lowest tax rate in the county for a long time and it shows. I wish it could have been more gradual, but when the previous administration kept putting increases off, we’ve got to play catch up at some point. All businesses have to increase prices due to inflation and the increased cost of living. The city didn’t even do that to keep up with the cost of providing the necessary services.

      • Kathy T.
        May 31, 2011 at 8:46 am

        There is a citizens forum at 4:45pm on Thursday. You sign up when you get there and have 3 minutes.

      • michaelinLV
        May 31, 2011 at 9:11 am

        Again, people seem to think that because the city hasn’t raised the tax rate in awhile that tax receipts have remained the same. That’s not correct. See page 8 of the budget PDF. Property tax collections for 2006-2007 were a little over $3 million. This year (2010-2011), even before the property tax increase, the property tax is budgeted at a little over $4 million. That means property tax collections have gone up 35% in the past 5 years. Over that time period, the rate of inflation has been 10.85% (inflationdata.com).

        • Tom Broeker
          May 31, 2011 at 10:27 am

          Michael, another thing to factor in the equation here, however, is population grew 76 percent between 2000 – 2010. Yes, as more paid taxes our tax receipts grew but also the obligation to provide more services grew as well.

          • michaelinLV
            May 31, 2011 at 12:41 pm

            I’m just looking at 2006 – current, not the whole decade. I would imagine property tax collections in 2000 were much below what we had even in 2006, since the building boom didn’t begin until 2001.

            So for comprisons, since the special census in 2006 showing 25,278 residents (26,472 in the 2008 census), the population has grown by 28.9% and revenue has grown by 35%. The city is still ahead if you just assume costs are directly relative to population.

          • michaelinLV
            May 31, 2011 at 1:11 pm

            Another question. When the population grows, what services grow along with it? Police and fire services are the obvious two, but I thought I had read that La Vergne has the same number of police officers and fire fighters today in 2011 that we had in 2000. Do you know if that is correct?

  14. May 31, 2011 at 5:14 am

    Hello Folks,
    I have noticed a lot coming out through the media about the new tax proposal.As a former officer here, I will support the tax hike. I know what it’s like to work a short handed shift. I also know what can happen if this city doesn’t get more police officers and firefighters. For those that don’t support it. You pay for what you get. Goverment services are not free.

  15. Tom Broeker
    May 31, 2011 at 2:23 pm

    Michael, I believe I understand your thinking here, however, the statement (or assumption) the city has or will come out ahead due to higher tax receipts is just not accurate. From 2006 – to present our various fund balances have been depleted by millions of dollars for a variety of reasons. Yes, we have paid more for services as our population increased, yes, we have lost major litigations and yes, we have absorbed the cost of our residents sewer to the tune of over $4,000,000 since 2007. Your assumption would have to be based on the thought that pre-2006 everything was just right and that the current tax rate was adequate to provide enough police, fire, and public safety. That our road, sidewalk, and greenway projects were being completed in a timely manner ( or at all), that departments were given enough manpower or resources to complete any and all tasks required of them etc. We know now in 2011 that wasn’t the case. No, we still face those same pre-2006 issues (and our current ones) with a lot less money. I struggle to see how the city is ahead here. Future projections show La Vergne growing to roughly 55,000 people over the next twenty years. Do we really want to continue the cycle and repeat mistakes of the past by accepting the status quo? Or do we raise the standards, fix the problems and lay the groundwork for a much brighter future, right here, right now?

  16. Tom Broeker
    May 31, 2011 at 2:26 pm

    Yes, that is correct. While we have replaced officers that left, the city has not hired a new officer since 1999.

  17. Tom Broeker
    May 31, 2011 at 3:01 pm

    While, I do not think I know you personally, I have read many of your posts and know you to be very intelligent. I know you understand the simple premise that it costs more to provide for a population of 32,588 (now) than 18,687(2000) or 25,278 (2006). Wouldn’t our water treatment facility purify more water as population grows? Wouldn’t we need additional water/sewer lines run to our newer areas? Didn’t we contract for more fire personnal due to our growth? To use your example of LPD. Whether we hired new officers or not the service still needed to be provided and probably at a higher cost due to the overtime required. I’m certain we could include just about every department in the city including Parks and Rec, Senior Citizens, and the Library whether essential services or not. I believe you knew this already I think you may have been testing me. :)

  18. Debbie Heughan
    June 16, 2011 at 8:32 pm

    A big huge THANK YOU to Tom Broeker for taking the time to explain the city’s situation.. It is so refreshing to hear one of our Alderman using hard facts & figures to make it clear to the citizens of the serious situation La Vergne is in & has been in for many years. I don’t think anyone can dispute the figures & if they do, they would have to be very deceptive.
    La Vergne can be turned around & our property values can have a real chance of improving with the leadership of Tom Broeker, Chris Farmer, & Senna Mosely, & maybe even Sherry Green.
    I wish everyone would give them the chance they need to help us, we are all on the same boat you know….

  19. steve
    June 17, 2011 at 7:25 pm

    DAMN this makes sense for a change, can’t wait till the haters have time to dig and twist and find some way to make this out to be a bad idea. But I am sure someone will.

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