Headlines from The Mt. Juliet News and The Chronicle, March 19, 2008

from The Mt. Juliet News:

Local realtors, builders leery of proposed mandated sprinklers
Fear it will dampen market; commissioners contemplate issue

Commission asks attorney to request MJ pay for fire truck
Some Mt. Juliet officials unhappy with tactic

[could the newspaper write a more ambiguous headline? WHICH Commission? In this case, it’s the WILSON COUNTY COMMISSION. And why drag the attorney into the headline? The COUNTY wants the CITY to buy a fire truck. Wouldn’t that be clearer?]

The sprinkler proposal will be discussed at the City Commission meeting on Monday, March 24, 2008 – but you’d have a hard time finding that out by looking at the City’s web site. As of 5:30 on Thursday, March 20th, the agenda for Monday’s meeting is nowhere to be found on the site.

from The Chronicle of Mt. Juliet:

MJ businessman honored for going “Above and Beyond”
[ a well-deserved recognition of Joe Perricone of “Our Place” and what he has done]

Defense for MJ’s Stone: “He feared for his life”

– Publius



Filed under Fire Protection

2 responses to “Headlines from The Mt. Juliet News and The Chronicle, March 19, 2008

  1. Butch huber

    The city of Mt. Juliet is going to eventually have to provide its own fire protection whether it is the most efficient way to cover fire protection service or not. The most efficient way to provide fire protection is for the county to cover it through countywide protection service, including Lebanon which now has its own service as well. However, Lebanon is determined to continue to provide its own protection service and yet they bellyache over Mt. Juliet using county services so much that in the end we will most likely have to provide our own services as well. Besides, I get the distinct feeling that the county has no interest in providing Mt. Juliet with fire protection service and I am not comfortable with the prospect of relying on fire protection from an entity that doesn’t want to protect me.

    If we buy a fire truck for the county will they take the truck with them when we finally have to provide our own services? The county continues to try to harangue the city of Mt. Juliet for more and more money toward fire protection services when, as a collective community and based on density, we provide far and above what any other area of the county provides toward fire protection. If we were to force the county to follow the law we would have our own fire protection services and they would be top notch. Instead, we continue to allow the county to control this city through issues such as fire protection. According to the lawyer for Lebanon, the county is required, since it doesn’t have fire districts, to only tax unincorporated areas of the county for fire protection service funding that it provides to unincorporated areas of the county. That means that there needs to be an offset in what the county taxes the incorporated areas of the county when compared to the unincorporated areas of the county. So, either the county has to increase what it charges citizens in the unincorporated areas of the county or it needs to reduce what it charges citizens in incorporated areas of the city: that is of course if the city attorney of Lebanon is correct and if I interpret what he has stated correctly. If the city of Mt. Juliet were to get an offset in county property taxes and raise our own property tax rate by that offset amount then we could provide our own fire protection services without additional cost to us, however it would be our fire protection services under local, city control, and it would take fire protection services out of the county’s political tool chest.

    As far as sprinklers are concerned, at first I thought sprinklers in a residence was a stupid idea. I envisioned an entire home being destroyed by water damage because someone left a turkey in the oven too long and it began to smoke. However, it appears that the sprinkler systems for residences reacts to temperature and its activation is isolated to rooms where there is fire rather than activation throughout the entire home. I saw bits and pieces of a demonstration of the system on channel three, the difference between a room without a sprinkler system and one with a sprinkler system is amazing. I would love to have that system in my home! I understand that it will raise the cost of a home by about 1 dollar per square foot, which for an average home is about $2000 to $3000. Spread over 15 to 30 years it would raise the monthly cost of a home very minimally. Though I haven’t researched the insurance issues, I can only believe that having such a system would reduce insurance costs tremendously. Additionally, there should be a corresponding reduction in the need for fire protection services thereby reducing costs for fire protection services. In the end there may be no real costs to have such a system installed in each new residential unit. Retrofitting homes would be extremely expensive, but to add such a system during buildout would be cost effective I should think.

    For now, based on the information I am aware of I am a strong proponent of this initiative. It could be one of the smartest things to come out of this commission in quite some time.

    Just think about what it would be like if you had a fire during the middle of the night and before you even knew you had a fire the system put it out!

  2. Butch huber

    I just read in the Lebanon Democrat that Commissioner Mike Justice (Any relation to “Ray” Justice?) wanted to amend a measure to fund WEMA in a way that would reduce the funding by $270,000, the cost of a new fire-truck for Mt. Juliet, and to request that Mt. Juliet put up the $270,000 for the new truck. He eventually withdrew his proposed amendment, but he talked about how the county needs help and that the county has things it needs. (If the county needs help and has things it needs it can raise its property taxes to pay for them.)

    Someone, please help me out with understanding all of this.

    The citizens of Mt. Juliet pay property taxes just like the people who live in the unincorporated areas of the county, and we pay property taxes at the same rate as those who live in the unincorporated areas of the county…we just have a city property tax rate set at zero.
    The density of residences in the city limits of Mt. Juliet is higher, meaning more homes per square foot of geographic area, than anywhere else in the entire county and the property values in Mt. Juliet are higher than in any other area of the county, and since the amount of money we pay toward property taxes is based on value of property and not on acreage or square foot, we theoretically pay more money per square foot of coverage area for fire protection than any other area of the entire county. It seems to me that the city of Mt. Juliet is paying more than its fair share for everything we get from the county, and still it doesn’t satisfy some people.
    If the county were to go with fire districts, where the money collected for fire protection would be spent within the fire district, west wilson would probably have the best fire protection services in the entire East Nashville Metropolitan Area. That would especially be true if we continued to spend as much on fire protection as a percentage of property tax as the county is currently spending. I guess what I am driving at is that I believe that the county uses tax money it collects from the citizens of Mt. Juliet to fund projects inside the unincorporated areas of the county and to provide fire protection service to areas outside our city limits and yet they still seem to whine about spending money inside of Mt. Juliet!

    I realize that we are going to have to take on our own fire protection services, but only because the county seems to always want to use fire protection as a political football. It would be stupid, and I will say that again, “It would be stupid” for the county to push us to a point where we provide our own services, unless of course there are idiots on the city commission who would allow the county to force us into providing our own fire protection and at the same time allow the county to continue to tax us at the same rate they tax the unincorporated areas of the county. Forcing Mt. Juliet to provide its own fire protection services, which I sincerely hope to see happen, would take money that the county uses for God knows what and return it to the city of Mt. Juliet where it belongs! The rest of the county could no longer use our tax money to offset their taxes, which is actually what is happening today. In other words, no matter how you cut it, unless we have a city commission of total brain dead idiots and a city attorney who is just like them, forcing the city of Mt. Juliet to do anything involving fire protection services could ultimately end up actually cutting off a nice cash cow for the county.

    There in is the rub, if the county can persuade the city to “donate” money (I like how politicians talk about “donating” money, if you and I tried to get someone to “donate” money in the same way that politicians get people to “donate” money we would be prosecuted for extortion.) to the fire protection services of the county, without rocking the boat too much, then they effectively accomplish what they are after without having to establish fire districts. However, you and I should consider the $270,000 to be a down payment. Consider: with 7000 households within the city limits (the number is actually higher) each household in the city would have to pay an average of $40 in order to meet the $270,000 needed, but Justice is talking about how citizens of Mt. Juliet are calling him saying that they would be glad to pay a property tax in order to pay for fire protection services. First off, why would we enact a property tax to pay for $40 per household? Why not just make it a roof tax or some other tax and require that each homeowner come to city hall and hand them $40? Why develop a long term property tax situation to come up with just $270,000? I will tell you why, it’s because the $270,000 is just the down payment on what the county really wants from us.
    It really comes down to ego and envy. The county can’t make their bills with just the tax revenue they generate from sales taxes, so they have to have a property tax. Lebanon has created a situation where it can’t make its bills with just sales tax, so they have a property tax (If Lebanon would drop its special school district and fire protection services it probably could afford to make their bills on sales tax receipts and other taxes without having to have a property tax.) Yet Mt. Juliet has been meeting its bills for a long time without a property tax, and that makes the rest mad and envious. So, they try to fabricate what they can to force us into a situation where we have to have a property tax. That way they don’t look so bad to their citizens. We out pace Lebanon and the county in growth without having a property tax and it gets under their skin. They act like fire protection is the problem that causes them to not be able to afford to operate without a property tax so they can redirect the focus off of the real problems. The city of Mt. Juliet didn’t cause their problems, yet they want us to pay for them.

    The City of Mt. Juliet is set up ideally for growth, we are on the edge of Davidson County, we are close to the airport, the lakes, and downtown Nashville. So we do have an advantage over the rest of the county in some ways, but why does that translate to the citizens of Mt. Juliet having to pay a disproportionate amount of money in taxes? Why do I owe money toward providing services to the unincorporated areas of the county just because Mt. Juliet has an economic advantage geographically?

    You see, to me this is the liberal vs conservative type of issue. I am a conservative, so I am biased in that direction. But, I don’t understand why a taxing authority believes it is proper to take money from one group of people and literally “give” that money to another group. That is what is actually going on with our fire protection services and county property taxes right now. The Wilson County gets a portion of the sales taxes generated in Mt. Juliet, Right? Are they spending a representative amount of the money they receive from those tax revenues on providing services to the city of Mt. Juliet and its citizens? I somehow doubt that they are. I would guess that the money they collect from sales in Mt. Juliet goes to disproportionately fund services of all types within the unincorporated areas of the county, and perhaps Lebanon and Watertown. Isn’t that taking money from one area and giving it to another? Is that right? If you think that it is right to do that please share your philosophy with me, because I truly don’t understand that type of thinking.

    They are taking a portion of the tax money they collect from the citizens of Mt. Juliet and they are providing services with that money from people who don’t live inside the city limits of Mt. Juliet. I don’t hear a lot of talk going on about that, it’s as if the citizens of Mt. Juliet have accepted that the county needs money to fund itself, and that the county has responsibilities it has to meet, so we look the other way. But the county seems to have people in it that constantly look at Mt. Juliet and say, “why don’t they pay for their own fire service like Lebanon does?” and “why don’t they provide for their own animal services?” Do they not realize how much money is provided to the county through Mt. Juliet? Perhaps the City of Mt. Juliet should develop a committee that puts together the numbers regarding just how much money the City of Mt. Juliet provides to the county each year and send out a financial statement to each and every residence in the county each year showing them how much we provide for them and how much more they would have to pay if there were fairness in taxation vs representation in this county. Perhaps if they were able to see how much this city helps them they would not be so quick to jump on the bandwagon over issue like animal control and fire protection services.

    I think Lebanon is crazy for providing fire protection service without an offset in county property taxes. I think that Lebanon should threaten to sell its equipment and facilities and let the county provide its fire protection services if they don’t get a property tax offset from the county . Just the treat from Lebanon to do such a thing would create a real stir. However, according to how I understand the quote of the city attorney of Lebanon, that is exactly how it is supposed to be handled under the current law!

    So somebody please help me understand why we should pay more toward fire protection services as a percentage of land value in Mt. Juliet (Which is what a city property tax would be) than the guy or gal who lives in the county. Is there even one person who would like to discuss, and perhaps debate, that question?

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