Wilson County just stole Mt. Juliet’s Lunch Money

and LAUGHED at them. County Commissioners watching the deliberations were visibly smirking.

At tonight’s meeting, the City Commission voted 4-0 to have the COUNTY raise property taxes in Mt. Juliet by $0.20 and use the money for enhanced fire protection in Mt. Juliet. The West Wilson County citizens who don’t live in the city limits will enjoy enhanced fire protection for free. The citizens of Mt. Juliet who live north of I-40 will be paying for enhanced fire protection that they will probably never see.

The City also agreed to pay for the construction of a new fire hall south of the Interstate.

And finally, the City Commission voted to impose a new $1,000 impact fee on all new residential and commercial construction and turn the proceeds over to the County. This last provision  will require action by the state legislature to grant the city authority via a private act. The legislature declared a moratorium on these private acts two years ago – but that doesn’t appear to concern the Mt. Juliet City Commission.

We’ve been trying to think of how Mt. Juliet could have gotten a worse deal, but we’re stumped.

Oh, and the City Commission appointed Art Giles to fill the remainder of Ed Hagerty’s term as D3 Commissioner.

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107 Comments

Filed under Fire Protection, Mt. Juliet City Commission, Wilson County Commission

107 responses to “Wilson County just stole Mt. Juliet’s Lunch Money

  1. Southsider

    Gilbert Graves needs CPR from laughing so hard. But soon the Mt. Juliet taxpayers will be providing 2 minute response times to his Wilson County home. He should be safer then.

    Never thought I would live to miss Linda Elam. Looks like when she left, the commission lost 20% of its members and 100% of its balls. Of course no one with walking around sense could think this is a good deal.

    Mayor Hagerty is about to stumble into a very expensive legacy. His term may be one of the shortest in Mt. Juliet’s history.

  2. Any man can make mistakes, but only an idiot persists in his error.
    -Marcus Tillius Cicero

    We are not getting what we pay for…and now we are paying more. Linda just spackled her pants laughing at your monumental ineptitude. Ed, you are so in over your head and definitely persisting in your error.

  3. Doc Cider

    Anyone who thought Ed hagerty and James Maness would make a difference, and I was among them, is certainly dissapointed today. This is not only a bad deal, but is reportedly something Elam had left behind. And having Art Giles as City Commissioner is the equivalent of Elam having a proxy vote on the commission.

    Within months after Kevin Mack’s election, we had a new City Manager, City Attorney, Planning Commission and road plan. So far all we have gotten with Elam’s departure is her deeply flawed fire plan and one of her best friends as a city commissioner.

    It looks like the real next chance to make a real difference will come in 2012.

  4. Pop Korn

    Maybe next Hagerty will give Elam a key to the city. Or has he already done that?

  5. Butch Huber

    In reality, it costs the county essentially zero dollars to provide Mt. Juliet with fire suppression. I know that my be a shocker to some, but once you know the rest of the story you will most likely agree.

    Okay, let’s start with this little ditty. Except for Fire Suppression, the county provides every aspect of WEMA, including emergency medical services, hazardous material response, rescue, water rescue, special teams, and emergency management to every citizen in this county. The only thing they don’t provide is primary fire suppression to Watertown and to Lebanon.
    The rest of Wilson County gets its fire suppression from WEMA.

    Okay, so, if Mt. Juliet were to establish its own fire department, like what Lebanon has, wouldn’t WEMA still have to have all the same equipment and personnel here to provide Mt. Juliet with the services that the county provides to the rest of the county? They would not be able to reduce their overall costs by any noticeable level because the same equipment and personnel that they currently use here would have to remain. In fact, because we have our own fire department their costs would go up because they would have to house that equipment in their own station instead of getting station 3 for a dollar per year.

    This city is going to raise $1.25 million per year in property taxes and pay WEMA when we don’t have $1.25 million in impact on WEMA.

    Folks, WEMA has a budget of $7.322 million per year. Now, if you take all the ambulance calls that have occurred from 2002 through 2008 (the years for which I have data to play with) there were 51.121 calls. Divide that by 7 years and you get 7,303 calls per year on average for ambulance. Now, I am told that the county chargers $400 per call for ambulance. I don’t know if that number is accurate, but that is the number I am told. I am also told that the county only collects around 60% of that money. 7,303 calls multiplied by $400 per call multiplied by 60% collected = $1,752,720 collected back into the general fund (I assume it comes back to the general fund. I can’t find a fund through which this money is going back into the fund, but I assume that it does go back in.) If that is the case, and that money really does make it back into the general fund, shouldn’t the actual real expenses of WEMA be more like $7,013,014 (Projected costs for 2011) minus the $1,752,720? Wouldn’t that mean that the actual realized cost of WEMA is more like $5,260,294? Do you realize that perhaps a full third to as much as half of all ambulance calls are coming from the area covered by station 3? Station 3 is now coving over 34,000 people! Guys, that’s almost a full third of the population of this entire county being covered by just one state with one fire engine and one ambulance and four people. Mt. Juliet is about to hand WEMA $1.25 million per year, which is roughly equivalent to approximately one quarter of WEMA’s entire realized end cost for running WEMA county-wide and how much will WEMA’s costs really go up? We are going to be subsidizing the portion of the county that exists outside Mt. Juliet with that $1.25 million!

    I see what is called an ambulance fund in the County Budget. I don’t think the money that flows into and out of that fund is directly from collections from ambulance calls. I think that is funded from the general fund each year, and the funds are expended from that fund to purchase equipment. I could be wrong.

    We are paying $1.25 million more for “air”. We will build a building, purchase equipment, hire personnel, pay to train them, and WEMA will contribute perhaps 4 people per shift. Those four people will provide all of the services that are provided by WEMA to every citizen of this county. Fire suppression, the only thing that Lebanon covers for itself, amounts to less than 6% of the total calls for service. What does that mean? Of the $1.25 million that we will be providing, only about $75,000 can be accounted toward the cost of fire suppression, the remaining $1,175,000 is a gift to the county at our expense.

  6. Southsider

    The Mt. Juliet Board seems to fear the County more than they fear the voters who elected them.

    It will be interesting to see how that works out for them in 2012. I have seen this movie before.

  7. Sonny Griffin

    Butch, I can appreciate your confusion about WEMA funding. When I looked at the county budget, I could find no mention of WEMA.

    I called the county and the very nice lady told me that WEMA’s funding is under “Civil Defense”. The various expenses are listed: salaries, diesel fuel, uniforms, etc.

    The problem here is that the expenses for all six WEMA stations are lumped into one big pot. I can’t tell what the cost of operating Station 3, serving 34,000 people is from operating Station 6, serving 4,400 people.

    So, Mt. Juliet is going to just dump another 1.25 million into the pot without even knowing what the allocation to each station is. Is all that money going into the new station in Providence? Under this system we’ll never know.

    It would be very interesting to know what the per capita capita cost for emergency services is for the zone served by Station 3 versus the zone served by Station 6.

  8. Butch Huber

    Sonny, Station 6 serves 4933 people and has, I believe, 2 people on duty at any given time. Station 3 serves 34,406 people and has 4 people on time.

    Just using those two sets of numbers, we can extrapolate out that the costs per person emergency services out of Station 3 compared to Station 6 is over three times less per person and nearly four times less. In other words, the cost of providing service to the citizens covered by station 3, on a per capita basis, is about 28% of the cost that the county incurs in providing service to those who are covered out of station 6. Let’s look at that another way. The county could increase what it is currently spending on EMS in Mt. Juliet and the area covered by Station 3 by a factor of three, or three times as much, and it still wouldn’t be spending as much per capita to cover us as it is spending to cover people out of station 6.

  9. Doc Cider

    The voters got rid of the westside-residing anti-Mt. Juliet deadwood on the county commission last August. What do you think the voters will do with a City Commission that essentially takes the same stance? The stance that the county doesn’t have to fairly provide adequate fire service based on tax collections and population.

  10. Old Blevins

    I notice by news and TV accounts that the entire commission essentially said ‘this plan sucks’ right before they voted for it. It will be Giles’ turn next meeting to either go against the rest of the commission or sign on to this turkey. Any predictions?

  11. Pop Korn

    He’ll do what Linda Elam tells him to do.

  12. Sonny Griffin

    So, let me get this straight. Mt. Juliet has a population of 25,000+ people and Station 3 serves 34,000+ people. Would Mt. Juliet’s share of the cost of operating Station 3 not be roughly 25/34 of the total operational cost? Why should Mt. Juliet residents pay for enhanced protection for approximately 9000 people living outside the city? Station 3 covers a zone of which Mt. Juliet is only a part.

    What about the new station in Providence? There will be another zone established that it will be responsible for. It will overlap the zone covered by Station 3, significantly reducing the population covered by Station 3. Therefore, the cost of operating Station 3 should go down to x/34. ( x=new population covered by Station 3)

    And good old Mt. Juliet funds the entire cost of operating the new station.

    No wonder the county is laughing their asses off. Why doesn’t the Commission realize that this is a tax on Mt. Juliet citizens only and should be used for Mt. Juliet citizens only. Instead, they are going to let the county collect the tax, put it in their general fund and allocate the money on Mt. Juliet’s behalf. Again, I am at a loss for words.

    We can only hope that Linda talks some sense into Giles’ head.

  13. Commissioner Giles’ vote won’t make any difference. The other four are already on record as in favor. The vote on first reading was 4-0.

  14. Southsider

    Sonny,

    I don’t know for a fact that this is true, but since my earlier post several people have told me Elam has spoken in favor of doing this too!

  15. Sonny Griffin

    I’m sorry if you took me seriously. I said that tongue in cheek.

  16. Sonny Griffin

    Another little detail that hasn’t come up is that since the tax is based on 20 cents per hundred of assessed property value in the city of Mt. Juliet, every time the property is re assessed the amount of money Mt. Juliet will throw in the pot will increase. Every time a piece of property is improved in Mt. Juliet (think Phases 2 &3 of Paddocks) 20 cents of the assessed value goes to the county. This goes on forever folks.

    What’s that 1.25 mil going to be in 10 years.

    What is it going to cost to man the new station?

    Let’s assume that it will take 3 shifts of 4 men daily for a full 24 hour coverage. That is 96 man hours per day. Let’s say we pay a rate of $20 per man hour. That would mean that the total cost for manning the station would be:
    365 x 96 x 20 = $702,800

    The projected revenue for the tax is $1,250,000.

    What happens to the remaining $547,200 Mt. Juliet citizens donated to the county general fund?

  17. Butch Huber

    Sonny,
    That $20 per hour that you used in your example was about twice what the current employees top out at. To be more realistic, we can add in the cost of employment, which would put the total cost at around 365 x 96 x $15 = $525,600. Where will the other $724,400 go? And as you said, what about the increase in revenue in the next year, and the next year and the next year? Before long we will be paying the county $3,000,000 per year. Sonny, that was a beautiful point. From what I understand, we increase at about the rate of three to four hundred homes per year in this city. If that is true, then we will be adding $30,000 to $40,000 more each year. So in year one, we would be paying $1,250,000. Year 2=1,280,000 Year 3= 1,310,000. Year4= 1,340,000. Year five=1,370,000. Year six=1,400,000 Year 7=1,430,000. By year ten the number climbs to $1,520,000. But that is factoring a steady growth of three hundred homes per year. If we used four hundred the number would climb to $1,650,000 by year ten. If we assumed a constant rate of inflation of only 3% in the price of property over the ten years the city would be paying the county perhaps as much as $2.3 million per year. That number is approaching half of the “real cost” of fire protection for the entire county through WEMA.

  18. Southsider

    Robertson and Holleman could have purposely negotiated this awful deal to get rid of Mayor Hagerty. It is no secret that Hagerty is not popular with staff and adoption of this will definitely make him the shortest serving Mayor in Mt. Juliet’s history.

    The only other possibility is that city staff are terrible negotiators.

  19. When attempting an analysis of government stupidity, always begin with incompetence before you assume conspiracy.

  20. Butch Huber

    Publius, don’t underestimate the spirit of corruption that is over this city. I think you give too much credit to incompetence and not enough weight to the fact that corrupt people do corrupt things.

    When you give people a chance, as I have done so many times, to do the right thing or to fix the wrongs, and they idly stand by and do nothing when they have an affirmative duty to act, or when they actively attempt to cover-up, conceal, or impede, they are corrupt. There is no other way to view it in my opinion.

    Now, we may be dealing with incompetence that is compounded with corruption, or vice versa, but corruption is involved, make no mistake about it.

  21. Southsider

    I am holding on to hope that even this government cannot really be this stupid.

  22. I’ll amend my list of possible explanations to read: laziness, incompetence, conspiracy.

    Not that conspiracy is not ruled out. It definitely occurs. But laziness & incompetence are probably more frequently the answers.

  23. Butch Huber

    Publius, I would contend that it is a mixture. I would offer to you that most of what we have seen over the past several years was precipitated by one particular person who cleverly and with great cunning has initiated and prompted actions and events that, had the others involved been on guard, aware, awake, competent, vigilant, and determined to do the right thing, never would have allowed to happen. I do not believe that the wrongs that have been committed have been committed 100% due to incompetence or even laziness, I believe they were thoughtfully planned and executed and that the incompetence and laziness of some have enable the wrongs to be perpetrated. I even believe that it was a calculation on the part of the one that the others would not be smart enough, vigilant enough, or aware enough to stop such actions from occurring.
    I am not sure which is the biggest affront, the intended wrong action or the cover-up and cover-fire the others provide when they protect that person who caused the harm.

    Whenever those in government act outside the law, or intend to stretch the limits of the law, they necessary set off a chain of events and circumstances that tend to cause harm and unintended consequences that cost others unnecessarily. That is why I believe that politicians should endeavor to fall down smack dab in the middle of the spirit of the law, if not the letter of the law, and if they don’t like the law they should set about to change it, but until the law is changed they should strive to follow the spirit of the law. If they do that the least damage cause by government action is likely.

    We need to put this genie called “government” back in the bottle. For government to provide a benefit to one, it must take something from another. That isn’t the function of government. It is called theft, and theft is not legal, nor is it right.

  24. Doc Cider

    Butch, you are right, what amazes me is that they are all still dancing on the puppet strings of ‘she who shall not be mentioned’.

  25. Butch Huber

    Just figured out, with the help of my very learned friend, that the citizens of Mt. Juliet are paying approximately 15 times as much per square mile in property taxes than those who live in the unincorporated portion of the county are paying. This is significant because the county keeps saying that they are providing the same coverage per square mile for everyone, yet we are paying 15 times as much as the folks in the unincorporated portion of the county.

    We are also paying 50% more per square mile in Mt. Juliet than they are in Lebanon.

    Look at the assets that are stationed in Lebanon, then look at Mt. Juliet, and someone tell me what I’m missing.

    Mayor Hutto is saying that the county is doing all that it can for Mt. Juliet. We will see about that.

  26. Doc Cider

    Hutto is turning out to be what everyone here on RFMJ expected.

  27. Sonny Griffin

    I believe that the money trail from the county general fund to the WEMA employee pay check and suppliers of goods and services to WEMA should be
    thoroughly traced and analyzed.

    WEMA needs to open its books for a complete audit.

  28. Butch Huber

    Sonny, I think it all needs to be analyzed. Whenever someone throws a pea under a walnut shell, I begin to believe I’m about to be snookered.

    I say, “You are taking our sales taxes aren’t you?” They say, “yeah, but that all goes to schools”. I say, “oh”, well then you are taking our property taxes, and they say, “most of that all goes to schools”, then I say ,”okay, well you take our adequate facilities taxes” and they say, “most of that goes to schools”, then they say they are funding WEMA with property taxes then come back and say they are paying for it with already shared revenues. I can’t find where the money from the ambulance fees is put back into the county budget, and the game goes on and on and on.

  29. R. Wilson

    All I hear the council talk about is fire protection, yet last year WEMA ran about 4000 calls in the city of Mt. Juliet and about 95% of those calls were for Ambulance service. They charge either $400 or $600 per ambulance call dependant on it being a basic or advanced level service which means if the city leaves EMS out of the mix they will be loosing out on over 1 million dollars in billed revenue. Nothing this council does in relation to solving this problem makes any sense.

  30. Butch Huber

    R. Wilson, it’s may be worse than you think.

    Today I went to the County Court House and retrieved a copy of the budget. I realize there is a budget online, but I wanted to get a full copy that I could thumb through. On page 2 of the general fund budget section in section 43120 it says “Patient Charges”. That is the amount of money that the county takes in from charges for ambulance calls. That amount is $1,750,000. However, on top of that there is a special fund called “Ambulance Fund”, (fund 118BGT11) that has another $250,000 projected in “Patient Charges”. Together, the county recovers a total of $2,000,000 or more in expenses. The budgeted expenditures for both Civil Defense and the Ambulance funds are $7,322,961 to civil defense and another $266,500 the Ambulance fund. The combined total comes to $7,589,461. The front section of the book indicates that the county will spend $7,665,271 on Emergency Management. I am not sure where the additional $75,810 came from. Let’s use the bigger number. If you subtract the two million that comes from Patient Charges from the $7,664,271 the county’s actual cost for all of WEMA would seem to be $5,664,271. However, it appears that the county gets a homeland security grants, the total of which amounts to $342,310. I can’t be sure yet how much of that, if any, goes to fire protection services. I was told most of it, however, it appears from the budget for fund 101BGT11 that a good sized chunk of that grant money goes to law enforcement.

    For now, let’s pretend that the total outlay for WEMA or “Civil Defense” is $5,664,271. Fire Suppression only amounts to about 6% of all calls for service throughout Wilson County. That means that the total cost of fire suppression in this county could not come to more than $5.664,271 x 6%. That comes to $339,856.26 County-wide. Now, remember, WEMA provides its other services throughout the county (There is some kind of special deal going on with Watertown that I have not been able to decode yet, however, for now we will say that everyone gets all of the services provided by WEMA except Primary Fire Suppression in Watertown and in Lebanon). The population of Mt. Juliet is about 20% of the total population of the entire county, so only about 20% of the fire suppression costs could be reasonably ascribed to Mt. Juliet. That means we are costing the county about $67,971 per year (the number could be slightly higher because of the fact that Lebanon and Watertown provide their own primary fire suppression, however, it would not go up much). Let’s call it $75,000.

    However, if you consider the number of people on duty with WEMA at any given time, you will see that this city actually has about 15% of the available responders on duty at any given time, so the cost could hardly be more than 15%. At 15% the total cost of fire protection in this city is more like $50,978.

    We are about to increase our city taxes by $1.25 million, which will quickly turn into much more, because the county doesn’t want to enhance services in this area of the county.

    Take into consideration that the county has budgeted an anticipated $1,600,000 in Adequate facilities taxes for WIlson county in 2010-2011, and that about half or more of that money is coming from Mt. Juliet, and you can easily see how Mt. Juliet is more than covering its costs in terms of fire suppression.

    If I were negotiating with the county, the first thing I think I would put on the table for them as a non-negotiable item would be that the county reconcile the money that it has taken from this city over the past 7 or 8 years it has been taking adequate facilities taxes from this city and then contribute the proportion of that money that they should have been spending in this city toward building fire stations in this city. If they didn’t agree on that we probably would be at an impasse and would need binding arbitration. If someone is going to rob you blind and then refuse to pay you back when you catch them red-handed, you know you can’t trust any deal you make with them for the future. I think any deal with the county has to start with fixing the adequate facilities tax issue and reconciling the past abuse.

    Let me make sure an earlier point got across properly. The actual out of pocket expenditure on WEMA is about $5.6 Million. Mt. Juliet has about 20% of the people in this county, produces way more than 20% of the sales taxes, provides about half of the adequate facilities taxes, and produces about 20% or so of all property taxes in this county, and we only account for about 5% of all land area of Wilson County, and the county is “doing all it can for Mt. Juliet”. Somehow, I find that hard to believe. We will see.

    It appears that the county has collected $4,705,401 in adequate facilities taxes in the previous two years and is expected to take in another $1,600,000 this year, which will likely be higher than 1.6 million by years end. That means that in three years the county will have taken in more than $6.3 million in adequate facilities taxes, 50% or more of which come from this city. Even if the county were to say that it is using adequate facilities taxes to pay down bond funds for schools and the jail expansion, and even if we let them get away with that, because we only make up about 20% of the population they should not be able to apply more than 20% of the $3.15 mil that comes from this city to such funds, which means close to $2.4 million of the impact fee should have been spent directly on items that are directly relative to needs created by the new development that generated the adequate facilities taxes and that money should have been spent on infrastructure inside this city. I would say that the county can build us a few stations with the $2.4 million they used elsewhere. I think it is time for a little pay-back, don’t you?

  31. Sonny, et al,
    That’s what I have been saying!!! FULL DISCLOSURE of the actual moves of the money. Not that user friend BS budget anyone can get from the county website. That’s a LOAD. Trust me…I WILL NOT LIE! If the $7.1 million dollar budget were being used as it should, WEMA, its employees, the county, and MJ would not be near this big of need. Rochelle, Dedman, and Randall on a Rope are allowing the leadership of WEMA carte blanche with OUR money. Believe this. Jewell is unsupervised and out of control. GET FULL DISCLOSURE!

  32. Old Blevins

    In looking at the City Commission we have the newbie, the guy that’s been there too long, two who shouldn’t be there at all, and the all-new Elam mini-me (replacing the former Elam mini-me who lost his reelection bid). No wonder their legislative product is crap.

    Inside city hall we have a bozo as City Manager and a complete nitwit as the city attorney. Outside of city hall we have a corrupt and manipulative state representative still pulling strings. The county has more reason to laugh at us than just this dumb fire legislation.

  33. Bozo

    I take complete offense to you dragging me into this Mr. Blevins.

  34. Sonny Griffin

    I have just read an article in the Chronicle about MJ’s fire tax. It’s on page 1 & 2.

    It is a synopsis of Hutto’s address Monday night to the Wilson County Commission about getting their permission to seal the deal.

    Read it and see if you have the same reaction I did. Did Hutto really quote these figures to the Commission or did the reporter have a spasm and a hemorrhage.

    Have somebody standing by that knows CPR.

  35. Old Blevins

    So sorry, Mr. Bozo. I watched you when I was growing up and meant no disrespect. I was was referring to ‘a bozo’ rather than ‘THE Bozo’. There is a difference.

  36. Doc Cider

    Sonny, I don’t have your math skills but that sure looked like an even bigger hosing for Mt. Juliet from the county than the figures the city commission is quoting.

  37. Butch Huber

    Guys, this is worse than you think.

    Station 3 covers 78 square miles of the county. Presumably, the new station will cover to some degree a relatively equal number of square miles. Obviously, there will be considerable overlap between those two stations. Additionally, there will be considerable overlap between our new station and Gladeville. Those considerations factored in, I estimate that the stations located inside Mt. Juliet will end up covering somewhere between 100 and 120 square miles give or take a few miles.

    When Mayor Hutto was talking to the commission and was talking about the $180,000 annual investment per station on the part of the county, he was talking about things like electricity, water, sewage, etc. He was not talking about manpower or equipment costs. What he is saying is, that after the city enacts this property tax and the money starts to flow, the county will reduce their investment in Emergency Services in Mt. Juliet from its current level to $360,000 per year. Now, what is the county’s current investment in Mt. Juliet? Well, that’s kind of hard to calculate. To extrapolate that figure you have to take the entire WEMA budget, which is around $7.365 million plus the $250,000 they have appropriated to the ambulance fund, and multiply that by the percentage of manpower strengths they have stationed in Mt. Juliet, which is about 15%. That would mean that the current investment in Mt. Juliet is about $1.14 million, I think. The county actually only spends about 5.6 million out of pocket because of the reimbursement for fees for service, however, the investment is made then taken back, so the investment in Mt. Juliet has to be calculated on gross expenditure and not on net. Another reason you have to do it that way is that the county will presumably continue to collect the ambulance fees even though we will be providing the service.

    What the county is planning to do, or at least what it appears to be planning, is to reduce its investment here from more than $1.1 million to $360,000. Then, to add insult to injury, they plan on using our equipment and manpower that we are paying for to provide service to an area of unincorporated the size of which absolutely dwarfs Mt. Juliet! Even going by population estimates, the county will be providing fire protection services to roughly the same number of people living outside this city as they are inside this city, yet our investment will be $1.25 million and the county’s investment will be $360,000 – the $40,000 profit they will experience from collecting our city property tax – the ambulance fees.

    Now, the calls for service in this county for ambulance service, if my memory serves me, equals about 69% of all calls. It appears the average number of calls for service from WEMA is about 12,000 annually. That means that there were probably around 8000 calls for ambulance services. (I know, I am rounding big time). Now, Station 3 handles approximately one third of all citizens of this county. Using the magic of rounding, I estimate that there were about $2400 calls for ambulance service out of Station 3 in 2010. (I am still waiting on real numbers from someone at WEMA, although I am running out of breath). The county only collects, from what I am told, about 60% of all calls for ambulance service, but I am betting that they collect more like about 90% to 100% of the calls for service in Mt. Juliet (just a wild guess). If my calculations are near correct, it would appear that the County had about 2000 to 2200 paying customers from Ambulance calls last year that came from Mt. Juliet. If that number continues into 2011 and 2012, the county will collect somewhere between $800,000 and $1,000,000 from ambulance calls in this city. That means that they are experiencing a net increase in available cash for the county budget of about $800,000 or more caused by the reduction in investment in Mt. Juliet, plus a surplus of about $500,000 to $700,000 from ambulance fees after they pay down the $320,000. The county is going to be about $1.3 to $1.5 million to the good after the city passes this tax increase (and they will pass it, I can feel it in my bones. Forrest was right, “stupid is as stupid does” and “the city commission is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna git”. Wait, that isn’t exactly what he said, but it is close enough.) What we are doing is passing a property tax so that the county can make more money. We pay for the building, they use it, they make money. We do get a little better service, or at least I would hope we will. But it just gets worse and worse. The county will continue to take our adequate facilities taxes and not provide us with anything remotely equivalent in terms of facilities here in this city. They will play a financial shell game and absorb that money. That means they will continue to get about another $800,000 or more from this city every year that they are not entitled to use as they use it.
    Yes, gentlemen, it is much, much worse than most would even begin to believe.

    I have such conflict. As a county citizen, I should be jumping for joy because the city just gave me a great big gift. However, as a city citizen I can jump for joy because I am in such pain from the beating I just took. What’s a person to do? I will give you a clue, the phone number is 1-800-232-5454. Also, the city is going to provide the citizens of this city with grounds for a lawsuit if they tax us to provide services to those who live in the county without the county picking up the cost of that provision. What they are doing here is no different than paying for the fire protection of Davidson County residents. Would we sit back and allow the city to pay to cover Davidson County residents?

    The only bright side of all of this is that it may make it easier to win in court. Our city has a horrible track record in court.

  38. Ben Dover

    C. Howett couldn’t be with me tonight. He got a hernia from laughing so hard at you mt juliet bozos. Sorry Bozo. Here you are again taking it right up the old wazoo from the county and the damn city commission. Your so easy. They play your ass like a puppet on a string and all you can do is whine. You get exactly what you deserve. Nobody cares. Why do you waste your time? Hagerty and Maness were suppossed to be your savyers. That worked out good for ya huh?

  39. Butch Huber

    As a good friend of mine said, “two months into office and Ed has us into a property tax, what will he do for his second act?” Seems I remember James Bradshaw saying when he ran for office that he would not vote for a property tax increase and that if there ever was going to be a tax increase it would be voted on by the voters in a referendum. I seem to remember something similar coming from Ed’s mouth. I guess some guys’ word lasts only as long as it takes to be sworn in. What’s the matter Ed and Jim, chicken to put the vote to the voters? Let us decide. You have until October, surely it is worth putting the issue to a vote, isn’t it? You would spend thirty to fifty thousand dollars on a referendum before you tax us $1.25 million per year, wouldn’t you? I mean, after all, some of the members on this board allowed the city to spend 26 thousand dollars to overturn our last vote, the least you could do is spend fifty grand to give us a chance to decide if we want to spend 15 million in the next ten years or so.

  40. OutEast

    Has anyone looked into the sneak attack that is being done to the police department this coming Monday? Fire protection is important, but we cannot forget the resources our police officers need.

  41. Doc Cider

    Butch and Sonny have done all this research showing why this fire service legislation is a bad idea. Who on earth decided that this was a good idea? ‘Bozo’ Robertson? (sorry, Bozo). Linda Elam? Bob Rochelle?

    Our elected representatives are making fools of themselves because they obviously didn’t do their homework. Three of them face the voters in just seventeen months. Will all three be going home? Stay tuned…

  42. Pop Korn

    Ted kicked his own ass if he had anything to do with putting Ray Justice on the Parks Board. Ray looks good just by not being on the commission while Ted makes a buffoon of himself on a regular basis.

  43. Bozo

    Again, your comparisons of Randy Robertson to me are absurd. Isn’t it fairly obvious that he could never fill a pair of size 18 shoes?

  44. Sonny Griffin

    I just talked with the editor of the Chronicle.

    I asked him Wednesday if he would verify the figures in the “Property Tax” article which appeared in the 18 May, 2011 issue of the Chronicle.

    He told me that the statement; “The taxes would produce $40,000 ” was incorrect. Hutto said that the county would charge the City of Mt. Juliet $40,000 to collect the tax.

    He said the statement; “Operational costs would be a total of $360,000 for Station 3 and the Providence Station”, was accurate. I asked if they meant both stations. He said yes and that included manpower.

    I can see no reason why it would cost more to operate the Providence Station than it would Station 3, so that means it has cost the county around $180,000 to operate Station 3 according to Hutto. Mt. Juliet has really been getting their share of the $7,000,000 budget.

    So that means for 1.25 million dollars plus $40,000, Mt. Juliet gets $180,000 to operate the Providence Station.

    Don’t forget Mt. Juliet furnishes both buildings.

    I’ve got to be missing something. Please help me out!

  45. Butch Huber

    Sonny, I think you are missing something. I think the $40,000 comes out of the $1.25 million. I also question whether Mayor Hutto actually meant manpower when he said $180K per station. In the Mt. Juliet News it quotes him as saying, “What’s our investment? It is the operational cost-that’s about $180,000-that’s lights and water and all that stuff. It will be $180,00 for Station 3 and $180,000 for the Providence Station-that’s $360,000. But you’ll be able to use those WEMA trucks anywhere in and outside of Mt. Juliet if you want to.”

    I think our fire fighters top out at $10.80 or so, so let’s figure it out. Let’s call it an average of about $12.50 per person per hour adding in all benefits and perks. There are four people on duty there 7 days per week 24 hours per day. 365 days per year x 24 hours = 8,760 hours per year. 8,760 x $12.5 = $109,500 $109,500 x 4 = $438,000. It would appear that the minimum actual investment in personnel for Station 3 is $438,000. I am not aware of how Water and lights can amount to $180,000 per year. I am interested in where that figure came from.

    Until I find out otherwise, I am inclined to believe what Mayor Hutto was talking about was that Mt. Juliet will end up paying all equipment and infrastructure costs and the cost of personnel and the county will pick up the cost of maintenance and operations of the buildings themselves and perhaps things like diesel fuel and insurance and so on. Sweet deal for the county, horrible deal for the city. As such, this is almost a lock.

  46. Sonny Griffin

    Thanks, Butch.

    I am sure you are correct.

    Using your figures, the cost to the county for the Providence Station is $438,000 per year for personnel, $180,000 for water, lights and all that stuff and $40,000 to collect the tax.

    That makes the county’s cost for the Providence Station $658,000.

    Ambulance fees generated by the Providence Station can be conservatively estimated at $250,000. Collections will be more like 80% in this area, giving a total of $200,000 in ambulance income.

    Subtracting the $200,000 going back to the county from the $658,000 cost
    gives a total cost to the county of $458,000 per year for the Providence Station.

    Mt. Juliet will put $1,250,000+ into the county coffers to pay the county’s cost for the Station.

    Subtracting $458,000 from $1,250,000 gives $792,000.

    Therefore, Mt. Juliet taxpayers are giving the county $792,000 per year for not a damned thing in return.

    Bozo, please forgive any comparison between you and our city government.
    You are eons ahead.

  47. Sonny Griffin

    I forgot to put this in my last post. Senior moment.

    Why don’t we take that $792,000 and put it toward building the Station and buying equipment?

  48. Butch Huber

    Mt. Juliet Fire station 3

    Operations $180,000.00
    Personnel $438,000.00
    Total cost $618,000.00

    Providence station
    Operations $180,000.00
    Personnel $438,000.00
    Total cost $618,000.00

    Total cost both stations $1,236,000.00

    Estimated population covered by both stations 50,000 to 60,000

    Percent of all persons cover by wema roughly 50 to 60 percent

    Projected ambulance fees based on number of people covered $1,000,000 to as much as $1,500,000*

    Current WEMA investment in Station 3 $700,000 to $1,140,000

    MJ Investment $1.25 million
    Total WEMA and MJ Investment if everything stayed the same for the county $1.95 to $2.39 million

    Actual investment into both stations after this deal is consummated based on what the county seems to have planned. $1,246,000

    Net to the county compared to current state Between $704,000 and $1,144,000
    I’m not even sure how to add in the ambulance fees they collect to this equation. I think it gets added to the $704,000 to $1,144,000.
    If ambulance fees get added to this equation on top of the line “Net to the county”, then the realized gain of the county Will be Between $1.7 million and $2.65 million from the operation of these two stations
    Actual net gain: Investment from Mt. Juliet plus ambulance fees – expenses between $1,014,000 and $1,514,000

    The county is going to actually “Make” money from this deal. They go from spending money, to pocketing money. Good deal for them, horrible deal for Mt. Juliet.

  49. Pop Korn

    check out the new profile picture for C.R.A.P. in Mt. Juliet on Facebook….

  50. Logic Al

    Ed Hagerty was sworn in Mayor of Mt. Juliet April 11, 2011 and on May 9, 2011 he immediately sponsored and voted for a property tax.

    28 days has got to be a world record for a new mayor to raise taxes. Hagerty, a self-declared conservative, did this in the middle of a recession in a city where revenue had doubled in the last 5 years.

    Next thing you know he will want to borrow money to buy land to give to the YMCA.

  51. Sonny Griffin

    Al,

    He voted on a property tax on the citizens of Mt. Juliet that is controlled by the county.

    The county collects it and the county doles it out.

    This makes the YMCA deal pale in comparison.

  52. Butch Huber

    I have sent piles of information and useful date to the commission in hopes of getting them to change course. Who knows if they will even consider what I have sent.

    One piece of information that I sent to them surely should make them pause.

    The county is intent on using our investment to provide service to the unincorporated portion of the county. I ask the commission to ask themselves if they thought they could tax us to provide fire protection to people who live in California, Kentucky, or even Davidson County, Tn. Then I let them know that if they did not believe they could provide protection to those people, then they can’t tax us to provide protection to those who live in Wilson County, Tn. If the situation turns out that the city is taxing Mt. Juliet and using it to provide fire protection services to the county, any citizen of this city that is paying property taxes would then have standing to sue the city in court, and the city would not have a leg to stand on.

    I don’t know if they understand the following: I have not specifically told them this part: If someone sued the city and won, which they would, that would create a situation where the county would have to discontinue using the money we spend on fire protection to provide fire protection services to the county. That would mean that the county would have to pay for its fair share of the costs of equipment, personnel, structures, operating costs, administrative costs, etc. The county would also end up having to cover this city for all of the costs of all of the services that the county provides to everyone else in the county and other cities. The only thing that the county could then use the $1.25 million for would be to cover the actual cost of fire suppression, which runs about 5.9% of all of WEMA’s costs. Even that would have to be broken down to the actual cost of Fire Suppression inside this city, which I believe is about 1.21 percent of all of WEMA’s budget, or about $50,000 to $75,000 per year after ambulance fee recovery is calculated back in and before Adequate Facilities taxes are considered.

    The county would never go for that, which would put us right back to where we are but in a more urgent situation than we are presently in.

    By the way, the county has already met in May. The next meeting is scheduled for June. The fire protection deal terminates on June 1. I am not sure that any deal could be acted upon by the county before the termination date of the inter-local fire protection agreement. If the termination date comes and goes without amendment or replacement with another agreement, both the county and the city of Mt. Juliet will be operating without a legal inter-local agreement between the parties. WEMA would no longer be entitled to use our station, especially for a dollar per year, it would have to vacate. There would be no protection in this part of the county. Every citizen of this city would then have standing to sue the county in court for unequal protection under the law. The county provides ambulance service, hazardous material response, rescue, water rescue, and other services to Lebanon, so it would stand to reason that they have to provide those services here as well.

    This whole matter appears to be about to get real ugly, real quickly.

  53. Doc Cider

    Another element of this disaster is the location of the Providence fire station. Rather than a location on Belinda Parkway near the older homes in the Villages and the shopping center, it is planned for the edge of the city limits. This is probably the Bel Air and Del Webb developers ‘working on’ Bradshaw, and other past and present commission members. Moving the station to the edge of the city obviously increases the percentage of non residents receiving service paid for by city taxpayers.

  54. Butch Huber

    Someone talk to Ed. He keeps rolling over and showing his soft underbelly to the county. He won’t listen to me. I am a fairly skilled negotiator. I have been doing it for many years. When you are up against an obstinate adversary (county government) who is stiff-necked and unreasonable, the thing you never, ever, never ever ever do, is demonstrate to them that you will not go all in on them. You work to massage them back to center, and then toward your end of the spectrum, however, unless they have some level of fear and uncertainty, you will never get them there. The analogy that I use when teaching negotiation and sales is that you want imagine them sitting across from you with a bow and a quiver of arrows strung to their backs. You have your bow and arrows on your back. Both are postured to sling arrows if need be. During the course of the discussions, you want to systematically reach around and one by one take the arrows from their quiver and stick them in your quiver while keeping all your arrows in your quiver. By the end of the discussion period, you want to have all their arrows and all your arrows in your quiver. That way, they have nothing to shoot at you and you have plenty of ammo to shoot at them. They will recognize they are defenseless and you are being gracious and merciful by not shooting them in their defenseless state. Ed has basically laid down prostrate in front of the county, rolled over, and exposed his neck! The county must take that as a sign that they can do just about anything they want now. Ed had taken off his quiver and his bow and handed them to the County. Ed has given Wilson County Mt. Juliet’s unconditional, unequivocal, unilateral surrender. I can tell that Ed is already a whipped pup and he has tucked his tail between his legs. However, I don’t know about you, but I have just begun to fight for what is right in this county. The battle hasn’t even begun and Ed has already surrendered! Those of us who supported Ed becoming the next mayor made a serious miscalculation.

  55. Sonny Griffin

    Arrows in MJ’s Quiver,

    1. Station 3 covers 9000 residents of Wilson County who live outside the City.
    Go on, shut it down. Whoever decides to do that will be in front of a judge with his ass in a sling so fast it will make his head spin. It is absurd to think that the County would eliminate emergency services to 35,000+ residents of Wilson County just because the County and Mt. Juliet can’t work out an interlocal agreement. Give me a break. The County tried that same coercion on Linda Elam once and she told them to shove it up their ass.

    2. Provide MJ with a complete accounting of WEMA.

    3. Provide MJ the exact cost to the County of operating Station 3 for the past 10 years and compare that cost with the cost of operating the other Stations County-wide. Come on County. Put on your “big boy britches” and show us where the damned money goes. If you can’t, I want to know why the hell you can’t.

    Arrows in the County’s Quiver,

    1. If you don’t do what we say, we’re going to take our equipment and personnel out of Station 3 and go home. Bull!*#?. See 1. above.

    One arrow with no broadhead and they want to play hard ball.

    I’m laughing so hard, I might have to join C. Howett in the hernia ward.

  56. Southsider

    I wonder if Ed Hagerty would vote for a 2012 presidential candidate who voted to raise taxes during a recession?

  57. Just Curious

    Please help me understand this. I am not as familiar with all the numbers as everyone else is on this matter. Isn’t the resolution to this have to involve some type of tax increase for everyone in Wilson County? But the problem with this proposal is that it is only targeting residents of Mt. Juliet? Is the proper and fairer solution is increasing or leveling out the taxes of all residents of the county to make up for WEMA’s budget shortfall? So this would probably increase Mt. Juliets taxes but not to the extent of what is being currently proposed. Sorry, if I am totally off base, I am just trying to understand. Math wasn’t my strongest subject. Thanks.

  58. Butch Huber

    Just Curious,

    This whole matter is very, very involved. The answer to your question is “yes”, “no”, and “maybe”, but not in that order. I know that just cleared up a whole lot of things for you.

    The City of Mt. Juliet really should have greatly increased and enhanced services compared to what we are currently provided. However, the only way that we are really ever going to get what we really need here is to have our own fire protection services (fire department or emergency services department). To get there, we have to force the county to establish fire tax districts. If they do that, then the unincorporated portions of the county have to pay for their fire protection services and the cities have to pay for theirs.

    If the county just raised everyone’s taxes, they would use everyone’s taxes to provide fire protection services to those areas of the county that don’t have fire protection services at all and to increase the fire protection services elsewhere in the county, but they likely would not increase services in Mt. Juliet one iota. They would likely take our money and give it to someone else.

    However, if they raised taxes enough to completely fill up every other area and provide enhanced services everywhere in the county, and there was enough left over that they didn’t know how to transfer out to other departments, we might get some extra service.

  59. Old Blevins

    You probably did better in math than the members of the City Commission. To quote Dessie, “Just sayin’ “.

  60. Just Curious

    Thanks Butch.

  61. confused citizen

    Can someone please help me understand why the increase in housing and population in Mount Juliet and the corresponding increase in county tax collection due to this growth doesn’t provide an adequate budget for WEMA to provide services for the area?

    Butch said: They would likely take our money and give it to someone else. – it would appear to me as if this is already occurring.

  62. Butch Huber

    I mean, if they enact a property tax, the county will end up using our money somewhere else.

    There is a posture within the county, that taxes are not spent where they are collected. That all the money is collected, then spent as there is need or as appropriated by the county commission. This is partially true, however, there are a lot of caveats to that “truth”. If the general assembly has identified a funding source for something that they allow for by statute, there must be an identified funding source to go along with it. Now, that funding source may simply be the general fund, however, they could say that something must be paid for using state shared revenues, or they could say that it has to be paid for using property taxes. Regardless, it has to be paid for using some authorized source of funds.

    The position of the county is that fire suppression is all that is being spoken of under the term, “Fire Protection Services”, and therefore they can pay for it using already shared revenues because there is sufficient sources of revenues from state shared revenues to pay the bill entirely. That is the rub.
    If such a position as what the county has taken can pass judicial scrutiny, then perhaps the county can fully pay for the cost of fire suppression using only already shared revenues. Let’s look at that the really amounts to, though. Wilson County only spends $7.6 million on all of WEMA, and it collects back $2,000,000 in the form of ambulance service fees, so the net cost of WEMA is $5.6 million. Of that, “fire suppression” only accounts for 5.9 percent of all calls, and the equipment that they use is also serving the rescue function of WEMA, as are the personnel and infrastructure, so the reasonable distributive share of the over all costs that can be attributed to fire suppression is $5.6 million x 5.9%, or $330,400. Station 3 only has 15% of the personnel assigned to it, so the proportionate share of the $330,400 spent on fire suppression in all of Wilson County is only $49,560. Of that, we only account for about two/thirds of the total population covered by station 3, so our distributive and proportionate share of fire suppression in Wilson County is only $33,000.

    That is the equivalent of the adequate facilities taxes on the first eleven homes built in this city each year.

    If the city makes this deal, the county will most certainly end up using our city property taxes to pay for services for those who live in the county, whether they use those funds directly or indirectly, they will do it. Otherwise we would have world-class coverage in this city. It isn’t going to happen.

    There is a solution that everyone should be able to live with provided their goal is not to continue to take money from Mt. Juliet to use it elsewhere in the county. If that is the end goal, nothing will work short of court action. Are you going to sit back and allow yourself to be taxed so that someone else can have services when you aren’t getting what you are paying for now? I’m certainly not going to.

    We have lots of options if the city continues down this course, one of which is home rule. We can develop our own charter. We can establish a system through which the people choose how they are going to be taxed and what we are going to allow or not allow. We are in control of this, not the City Commission and not the County Commission.

  63. Southsider

    Wilson County has been double charging Mt. Juliet and west Wilson County residents for fire protection for decades. Then, in 2004 they added a 3000 dollar per building permit adequate facility tax.

    Now the Mt. Juliet Commission is voting to double even this level of funding. We are in the very best of hands.

  64. Butch Huber

    A charter or amendment may be proposed by ordinance of any home rule municipality, by a charter commission provided for by act of the General Assembly and elected by the qualified voters of a home rule municipality voting thereon or, in the absence of such act of the General Assembly, by a charter commission of seven (7) members, chosen at large not more often than once in two (2) years, in a municipal election pursuant to petition for such election signed by qualified voters of a home rule municipality not less in number than ten (10%) percent of those voting in the then most recent general municipal election.

    I put this up so that anyone in office in this city or in the county will recognize that we, the people of Mt. Juliet, a city that has a home rule charter, are the ultimate gate keepers of this city. We are in charge. Any deal that is struck between this city’s current leaders and the county leaders is subject to being rescinded by the voters, if not by a judge, if such deal is not in our best interests. The ultimate deal has to be a win-win-win-win. What does that mean? It has to be a winner for Mt. Juliet, a winner for the county, a winner for Lebanon, and a winner for Watertown. Nobody can be “victorious” over another, it has to be a deal that makes sense. I have such a deal in mind.

    Here is what I am pushing. If you agree, consider helping me.

    Let me set it up.

    There are people in this county who are bent on their opinion and belief that Mt. Juliet has to have its own fire department, even though that makes no financial sense whatsoever under the current configuration. Regardless of how we feel about the sanity of that solution, the ultimate outcome is going to have to include Mt. Juliet having its own fire department.

    Lebanon isn’t likely to give up having their own fire department, even though it makes all of the sense in the world for Lebanon to roll their service into WEMA, along with Watertown doing the same, and allowing the County Government just to provide all of the fire protection services in this county.

    Mt. Juliet is growing by leaps and bounds, and we clearly need enhanced fire protection services, but we will not get them for as long as we allow the county to control our security and safety.

    The county needs to increase their coverage in the unincorporated portions of the county, but has to be careful so as not to tip the boat too far, because if they do, they won’t be able to claim that they can cover fire protection, which is really “fire suppression” in their version, using already shared revenues.

    Practically nobody outside this city will be happy until Mt. Juliet has a property tax set above zero.

    The people who live in the unincorporated portions of Wilson County in the area north of Mt. Juliet are in just as bad of a situation as we are in in Mt. Juliet and they need a solution that will not be forthcoming to them until we act.

    The county will continue to take money from Mt. Juliet and spend it elsewhere for as long as we will let them.

    So, here is the solution.

    The county enacts a fire tax and levies it upon all areas of the unincorporated portion of the county. They can do this by actually lowering the tax rate on the municipalities rather than raising the taxes in the unincorporated portion of the county. The county then charges the Municipalities for the services that it provides to them on a cost share basis that is fair and equitable and prorated. If a municipality is providing fire protection services, which in my scenario includes all aspects of what WEMA provides, the county pays the city for those services.

    The city of Mt. Juliet agrees to annex its urban growth boundary as quickly as it is permitted to annex it by law. The county and the city of Mt. Juliet enter into a five year transitional agreement through which the county gradually turns over its operations of its fire protection services in station 3 to Mt. Juliet.

    A vote is taken to determine if the people who live along Saundersville road now want to become part of Mt. Juliet and get their protection from us or remain with the county. If they want to become a part of Mt. Juliet we go through whatever it takes in order for them to be able to merge into our city. If they want to continue to remain in the county then Mt. Juliet can pay the county to provide it service out of Station 4 or the county can pay Mt. Juliet to provide service to those people out of station 4 or another station that is inside our city and then shut down station 4.

    Lebanon can transition to cover all of the services now provided to them by WEMA, as can Watertown, and then they too can service both citizens who live in the city and those who live in the county. Remember, the county pays them to provide service to the unincorporated areas of the county and vice versa. Lebanon, too, expands to their twenty year growth boundaries, as does Watertown.

    This scenario would require that Mt. Juliet increase its tax rate, which pleases those who otherwise would never be satisfied, it establishes its own fire department, which pleases those who would never be satisfied otherwise. the county can walk away from having to deal with roads in the annexed areas, the cities are taking care of almost all fire protection services in Wilson County, and everyone gets what they are paying for and everything is fair.

    Nobody pays anybody to provide coverage for them if they have a station within five miles driving distance. If there is an overlap between the services provided by two or more entities, there is no payment to anyone inside that overlapped area, but the parties have a mutual aid agreement for those areas so that everyone is provided with double coverage in those overlapped areas.

    The county, under my scenario, agrees to apply 80% of the impact fees it collects to the development of fire protection facilities where the growth occurs. Once the fire protection services in that area are developed then the impact fees go to other things that are needed and which need is developed by the growth.

    Can anyone find a hole in that plan? How is it unfair to anyone? If any entity starts to take advantage of another entity, the entity that is being taken advantage of can discontinue the mutual aid in that area.

    Nobody is dumped on, everyone pays for what they get and they get what they pay for, and those who just can’t stand that Mt. Juliet doesn’t have its own fire department and that it doesn’t have a property tax rate set above zero can fixate on something else for a change.

    What am I missing?

  65. Just Curious

    Why are we told that residents in Lebanon are paying much more than Mt. Juliet residents for fire protection? Is a portion of their city tax goes to WEMA, plus the portion they already pay in county taxes?

  66. Butch Huber

    No, Just Curious, they pay everything we pay for WEMA through the taxes that go to the county. In addition to paying for WEMA through the taxes that normally go to WEMA, they also have a city property tax. That city property tax, along with other taxes that go to the city, is what they use to pay for their city service.

  67. Hutch Buber

    Butch,
    I love that plan and so should the county. We in MJ pay slightly less in county property taxes so we can pay MJ even more. The County is going to continue to tax us for roads and sheriff’s patrol. All the while MJ will have to cover more roads, need more Police and have to expand sewer service. We are going to love the new sewer service rates. Butch your plan will save us 10 cents from the county and cost us 50 cents from the city.

    Your plan is no better than the cities. You just enjoy being an armchair quarterback.

  68. Butch Huber

    I will reserve comment, RR, I mean, HB.

  69. Hutch,
    mach es dir selber, hosenscheisser schnoodle doodle.

    On a more RELEVANT note, persue that train of thought for full disclosure from the county. DO NOT GIVE THEM ANOTHER DIME UNTIL YOU KNOW WHERE THE DIMES ARE GOING NOW!!! If the $$$ goes to WEMA and WEMA is in the general fund…then there are a number of other entities in the general fund licking their lips hoping to see us write a check. Ed, get some info before you get out OUR wallet.

    R.P.

  70. Pop Korn

    We may end up redecorating the Sheriff’s office and building a rec center in Norene, judging by how the county historically sees fit to use tax dollars from Mt. Juliet .

  71. Butch Huber

    Can someone tell me from which fund the county purchases fire apparatus? I am looking through the budget and cannot find where they are allocating money for the purchase of equipment other than ambulance replacement. Where does that money come from if it isn’t a part of the General Fund under account 54410 Civil Defense?

  72. Butch Huber

    It appears that personnel costs for WEMA are $6,379,633. This includes salaries, social security, workers’ comp., employee and dental insurance, unemployment, overtime, etc. WEMA’s entire budget is only $7,322,961. That leaves $943,328.

    The following are just the big ticket items that are part of the expenses:

    Maintenance and repair of vehicles: 137,795
    Diesel Fuel: 118,000
    Drugs and Medical Supplies: 163,500
    Utilities: 103,762
    Liability Insurance: 75,168

    That leaves only $345,103 remaining in WEMA’s budget.

    I have to wonder where the $180,000 per station that Mayor Hutto was quoted in the paper came from. That was supposed to, according to the papers, be for things like lights, water, etc. At least that is how I remember it having been put. Mayor Hutto told me that the county would take care of those things and also leave 2 people in each station to cover ambulance under this proposed deal. Even then, I am not sure how we arrive at $180,000.

    From WEMA’s Budget: Those things that I can attribute to operations (not counting salaries or employment costs)

    Communication: 35,000
    Laundry Service: 10,200
    Postal Charges: 600
    custodial supplies: 9,500
    Office Supplies: 3,000
    Uniforms: 50,000
    Utilities: 103,762

    There are some other charges that may be included, however, this is what I can say are “Operations Costs”. They come to $212,062.

    The only thing that I can think of is that Mayor Hutto was including the salaries and employment costs of providing two ambulance drivers per station plus the operations costs. Even if you include all of those costs, it seems a bit of stretch to get to $180,000 per station.

    I guess we need to WEMA budget to get to the bottom of this.

    Still, does anyone know where the funding for the equipment comes from?

  73. Sonny Griffin

    Butch,

    There are a lot of questions that need answering,

    That’s why WEMA needs to lay all their cards on the table, put their “big boy britches on” and tell us how many employees they have and separate these employees by pay grade. You know the total spent on wages. Lets look at cost per employee.

    We also need to know where the funding for WEMA equipment comes from.

    That’s why there needs to be a complete audit of WEMA before Mt. Juliet dumps another 1.25 million in the County General Fund tagged for WEMA.

    Wouldn’t you investigate anyone or anything you were investing 1.25 million in? Is this business or dumb ass?

  74. Now we are cooking!!! Butch, are you looking at the budget that is posted on the county’s website? If so, forget it. That is not the REAL budget…that is just a user friendly document that tells maybe 10% of the truth. I will try to get you the one I have…not so friendly. One thing you can get from the computer posted budget… of the 53 entities listed in the general fund, look at the first line 51100 COUNTY COMMISSION. Any $$$ WEMA receives, in any fashion, if it is not earmarked goes to the general fund with the first chunk going to…wait for it….county commissioners. Then 52 others get a shot. A horse barn on every corner. Ed, this is but one detail you better get before you get any agreement. Happy Memorial Day to all our service people home and abroad….THANK YOU for your honor on the job.

  75. Sonny Griffin

    Amen R. P.

    Men and women of the U. S. Armed Services, past and present, are the only reason we can express our views on this blog without fear of retaliation.

    Today we thank them for this and a multitude of freedoms that their sacrifices have given us.

    We need to be vigilant and guard these precious freedoms that have been paid for with so much blood.

    You mention honor. Is the Service the only place honor still survives?

  76. Sonny,
    No. Honor is found in every heart that beats to serve others. I am partial to the Coast Guard Rescue Swimmer’s Code, “So other might live”. Not to mention His…”greater love hath no man…”. I would be happy if the county and the city leaders would just, “do unto others…” Later Tater.
    RP

  77. Sonny Griffin

    Thank you RP.

    Sometimes I get a little cynical.

  78. Sonny Griffin

    Does anyone have any idea what kind of entity WEMA is?

    It defines itself as an agency.

    That doesn’t tell us much.

    For example, FEMA is an agency of the United States Department of Homeland Security which makes it a Federal, governmental agency.

    Joe’s Employment Agency is a private business which places qualified employees with employers in need of their services.

    So, an agency can be either private or governmental.

    I find it strange that nowhere in the County’s budget, that I have seen, is WEMA mentioned. Everyone tells us it is Civil Defense. Who is in charge of “Civil Defense”. Is it the same person that is in charge of WEMA? Is WEMA just a part of Civil Defense and only a portion of the Civil Defense Fund goes directly to WEMA?

    Is WEMA an agency of Wilson County Civil Defense?

    So, Mt. Juliet tax payers are going to dump 1.25 million dollars per year, forever, into the General Fund of Wilson County, which is transferred into Civil Defense, which is transferred to WEMA, if WEMA and Civil Defense are separate entities, and finally resulting in enhanced fire protection for Mt. Juliet.

    On top of that, Mt. Juliet is going to furnish the land, build the fire station and provide the equipment (fire engines, etc.) and then deed all of it over to WEMA. This is pure insanity.

    If we choose to pursue the route of a property tax, we should put that money in a fund called the Mt. Juliet Enhanced Fire Protection Fund. At the end of the year, the County would provide an itemized invoice to the City of Mt. Juliet for operational expenses provided by WEMA for the Providence Station. The invoice would be reviewed by the city manager and the city commission and if approved, a check would be issued to the county from The Mt. Juliet Enhanced Fire Protection Fund.

    Mt. Juliet would retain ownership of Providence Fire Station, land and equipment and lease the above to the county for $1/year.

    At least, some protection would be provided for our tax payer dollars.

  79. Sonny,
    WEMA is the county level of State TEMA and Federal FEMA. But to show you just how the county views the providing of fire protection etc look at the budget. Line item 54410 is civil defense. Before WEMA there was WCCD, Wilson Co. Civil Defense. They are the same just the name has changed…22 yrs ago. No one at the county level has seen fit to update the heading of the line item. Now, I know this doesn’t mean dollars to doughnuts, but it would be nice to have the proper heading for the importance of the line item. Plus, as complex as the issue is, it would be in the best interest of all (old and new to the issue) to clean and clear what you do not need or is no longer accurate. Here’s a question to ponder as an aside…If MJ pays for say 4 firefighters at the new station and say, as is normally the case, the county runs short of manpower + sick/vacation, what will you say when the county pulls one or two of those firefighters to go and work at the short staffed staion 1 in Lebanon? It is real and IT WILL HAPPEN. Another little detailed caveat, Ed, you might want to know before you write a check out of my account. They will agree to joint venture….they know the DEVIL is in the detail…and once you agree…they got me.
    RP

  80. Butch Huber

    Any deal made, one way or another, should mandate that whatever we are paying for must meet and be maintained at NFPA standards and the standards and codes of the state of Tennessee and its agencies. The deal should also mandate that the assets and manpower that we pay for cannot be used for purposes other than serving Mt. Juliet except through equitable reciprocity from the county or through direct payment to Mt. Juliet by the county in instances where there is not equitable reciprocity. Fairness and equity, along with safe and adequate service, to the degree that they can be attained, is all I really ask for in this situation.

  81. Sonny Griffin

    Me too, Butch.

    But I’m afraid it’s going to be hard to get WEMA to comply with NFPA standards

    For example, NFPA requires four fire fighters on fire engines and trucks. For a station to comply, there would need to be six WEMA personnel on duty at all times, four for engine, two for ambulance.

    Tennessee OSHA enforces the two in/two out rule. Got to have four fire fighters at the fire to comply. I wonder how WEMA gets by this. I have employees that work around dangerous equipment and hazardous locations.
    I am well aware of TOSHA. I have been written up by TOSHA inspectors. Needless to say, I comply with TOSHA regulations, otherwise I suffer huge fines and face being shut down. My employees’ job is nowhere near as dangerous as entering a burning building.

    Quoting OSHA:

    “All professional career fire fighters, whether state, county, or municipal, in any of the states or territories where an OSHA state plan agreement is in effect, have the protection of all federal OSHA health and safety standards, including the new respirator standard and its requirements for fire fighting operations. The following states have OSHA-approved plans and must enforce the two-in/two-out provision for all fire departments.”

    Alaska Kentucky North Carolina Virginia Arizona Maryland Oregon Virgin Islands California Michigan Puerto Rico Washington
    Connecticut Minnesota South Carolina Wyoming Hawaii Nevada Tennessee Indiana New Mexico Utah Iowa New York Vermont

    Do you think the establishment of the Fire Fund for Mt. Juliet and the itemized billing approved by the city is fair and equitable?

    Do you think retaining the title to land, building and equipment is equitable?

  82. Well put, but I like the Peter Finch/Howard Beale with a pinch of William Wallace version of Butch the best. Barkeep, give that man a double glenlivet with a whisper of water…and out it on my tab.
    RP

  83. Sonny Griffin

    RP,

    I couldn’t be sure of who you offered the drink to but let me offer you a double Glenfiddich on the rocks. It would be my pleasure.

    We could toast William Wallace also known as Braveheart.

    We could also toast Butch Huber who is certainly no arm chair quarterback.

  84. Butch Huber

    Well, thank you kind gentlemen and may we all have occasion to meet at a local watering hole for a celebratory drink to the conclusion of this issue and a hardy slap on the back to each and everyone who has worked to fix this problem.

    Guys, I just found something that completely turns this whole debate on its proverbial head. I am still reeling from this find. I can’t believe it hasn’t been uncovered before. I suppose everything is in its ordered steps.

    State law disallows a county from providing ambulance service to any city in the absence of an inter local agreement between them for such provision. I do not believe there exists an inter local agreement for the provision of ambulance service in this county. That is a major barn burner issue.

    The laws that allow a county and/or city to establish an ambulance service do not delineate from which fund the costs of such service may be paid. However, it cannot be paid from the general fund, because they can’t spend such money if it isn’t spent on services that are generally available to the public without an entity having to opt-in. It could, I believe, be paid for under 5-17-101–5-17-108. If the county elects to fund it under the county-wide fire department laws, there is no chance (as if there were a chance left at this juncture) of the county being able to fund it through already shared revenues or situs based taxes that are collected in the unincorporated portion of the county. What that means guys is that there is no wiggle room anymore in terms of how the fire department is to be funded. It has to be funded through fire tax districts. The dialog now has to be turned from “Mt. Juliet needs to establish its own fire department” to, “Who is going go become a part of the county-wide fire district and who is going to opt out and pay for ALL of their fire protection services, including, but not limited to, fire suppression, ambulance, hazardous material response, rescue, water rescue, and emergency management out of their municipal funds. This game just completely changed.

    I am still in shock at what I found.

    The law is listed below for your review:

    7-61-101. “Ambulance service” defined.

    For the purpose of this chapter, “ambulance service” means the use of any privately or publicly owned motor vehicle for the transportation of injured or infirm persons on an emergency or nonemergency basis.

    Acts 1967, ch. 71, § 1; T.C.A., § 6-642.

    7-61-102. Provided by county or city as a public service.

    The governing body of any county or city of the state of Tennessee may provide and maintain and do all things necessary to provide ambulance service as a public service.

    Acts 1967, ch. 71, § 2; T.C.A., § 6-643.

    7-61-103. Provision of private or nonprofit ambulance service — Regulations.

    The governing body of any county or city may license, franchise, or contract for private operators or nonprofit general welfare corporations to provide ambulance service. In order to protect the public health and welfare, any county or city may adopt and enforce reasonable regulations to control the provision of private or nonprofit ambulance service.

    Acts 1967, ch. 71, § 3; T.C.A., § 6-644.

    7-61-104. Interlocal cooperation.

    (a) No county may provide and maintain, license, franchise, or contract for ambulance service within the boundaries of a city or another county, and no city may provide and maintain, license, franchise, or contract for ambulance service outside its corporate boundaries, without the approval of the governing body of the area to be served.

    (b) (1) Except as provided in subdivision (b)(2), any two (2) or more counties and municipalities may enter into agreements with each other and with persons providing both emergency and nonemergency ambulance service for a county or counties on a county-wide basis, for joint or cooperative action to provide for ambulance service as authorized in this chapter.

    (2) In any county having a metropolitan form of government and a population in excess of five hundred thousand (500,000), or in any county having a population of not less than eight hundred twenty-five thousand (825,000) nor more than eight hundred thirty thousand (830,000), according to the 1990 federal census or any subsequent federal census, any two (2) or more counties and municipalities may enter into agreements for joint or cooperative action to provide for ambulance service as authorized in this chapter.

    Acts 1967, ch. 71, § 4; T.C.A., § 6-645; Acts 1998, ch. 660, §§ 1-3.

    If I missed something let me know, but to me it looks like this calls for an emergency meeting of the commissions for the county and all of the cities in Wilson County to reconcile this law against what they are doing and how to fix it.

    Man, I am still shocked. I am having a hard time wrapping my mind around this it is so revolutionary to how this conversation has been conducted so far. This is the deer in the headlights type of thing. All of a sudden, the light has shined in on this and revealed that the way that WEMA has been funded is absolutely wrong. It fundamentally changes everything.

    Wow! Let me say that backwards……”woW!” Remember as you read this, the county is funding ambulance services under the civil defense fund, which an attorney general, I believe, has opined was in essence the “County-wide fire department” as described in 5-17-101–108. Man, this is huge.

  85. Sonny Griffin

    Butch, since there are only three cities in Wilson County that have their own governing body ( Mt. Juliet, Watertown and Lebanon), don’t the rest of the cities fall into the unincorporated area of the county which is governed by the County?

    If the above is true, the County can do what it wants everywhere but within the boundaries of Mt. Juliet, Lebanon and Watertown.

    It would be very interesting to request the approvals of the governing bodies of these cities for providing and maintaining ambulance service by the County within their boundaries.

    Betcha they don’t exist. Then what?

    What do you think , Butch? Looks like all the political types need to put their “big boy pants on”, try following the law for a change and start over from square one.

  86. Butch Huber

    Sonny,

    If the county concedes that “fire protection services” means everything that WEMA offers, then the county could contend that it has a valid inter local agreement with Mt. Juliet for ambulance service because Ambulance service is included in the functions of the County-wide Fire Department. However, if that is what they conclude, then they do not have an inter local agreement with Lebanon and I do not believe they have an inter local agreement with Watertown. From what I am told, the only thing we have in Watertown is an ambulance and two people to run it and that Watertown takes care of almost all of West Wilson County south of I40 and east of 109. The county is contending that it built the new station out there as a quid pro quo type of payment for the services rendered to the county by Watertown volunteer. In theory, I have no problem with that quid pro quo payment, however, it practice, I don’t know if it is legal.

    If the county continues to contend that Fire protection services means only fire suppression, they have to contend with the law that says that fire department means all emergency response services except police, emergency medical agencies (Ambulance) and rescue squads that don’t provide fire suppression. They can’t get around that law or the attorney general’s opinions regarding the consistency of a fire department. Because they can’t get past that law, they have to include all functions of WEMA except for ambulance services (Assuming that they can find another funding authority for ambulance service), which means that the entire costs of WEMA must be included in the make up of the County-wide fire department. In talking to the comptroller’s office yesterday, the person I was speaking to seemed to agree with me that if the ambulance services is segregated from the fire department in terms of how things are funded, some reasonable calculations must be made to determine how much each costs and what the distributive share of those costs are and how they are funded.

    Because Fire, hazmat, emergency management, rescue, and other functions of WEMA require so much space in a fire station, and because the equipment is so much more expensive, the cost allocation of the building and equipment will be much greater for fire protection than it is for ambulance. However, because there are vastly more calls for service for ambulance the personnel costs will be slanted toward ambulance. That said, the costs of personnel for ambulance is mitigated by the fees for services that are collected for ambulance calls, which slants the actual personnel costs back toward fire protection services. That means, of the net expense of around 5.6 million dollars that is spent on WEMA, the lion’s share, if not all, of the WEMA budget is for fire protection services. That necessarily means that the county cannot pay for it using already shared or situs based revenues. That, in turn, means that the county is providing fire protection services to Lebanon without an inter local agreement. It also means that the county is using property taxes to fund WEMA operations, which is not allowed except through fire taxes and fire districts.

    So, yes, Sonny, I think their “big boy britches” comment is going to taste like bad pizza when it comes back up. And yes, we have to redo everything.

    It may have been a good and noble cause that some were trying to do in the effort to build a high quality fire protection system for the entire county. There may have been some very good people behind all of this originally. The intention may have been a good one to start with. But I don’t think anyone can say that this issue hasn’t been something that some have used to beat Mt. Juliet about the head and shoulders with when we have obliged the county on every level along the way. All we have every really asked for is fairness. I don’t think anyone has ever tried to get more than we pay for, we just want that for which we pay. That’s fair as fair can be. Because they didn’t want to do what was fair, and because we have dug into this so much, the truth has been exposed and that truth has now become a fundamental and revolutionary game changer and has completely turned the tables. This city will be vindicated. We have done nothing wrong and we have allowed many millions of dollars from this city to be used elsewhere because we stuck with this unfair situation. Now, it is time to stop the bleeding and to start using that revenue that was previously being taken from us to help meet the needs of this city. There is a brand new day on the horizon in Mt. Juliet, folks. This is earthshaking news.

  87. Sonny Griffin

    Mt. Juliet is the big gorilla in the room right now.

    Hell, we even have a city commissioner on the county commission.

    How’s he going to vote on this issue? For Mt. Juliet”s interests or the County’s interest?. Who the #*%! knows? Does this Commissioner realize that this is a classic conflict of interest? Why don’t the other three commissioners challenge him? Why don’t you challenge him, Ed? It’s your ball game. You are the chair of the Commission. You are either for the citizens of Mt. Juliet or you are just for Ed.

    See what happens when you overturn the will of the people?

  88. Butch Huber

    Folks, I called Ed Hagerty’s phone yesterday. Remember in the commission meeting where he said that if someone had a better plan they should come forward? I called him and said that I had a better plan and that I would be glad to share it with him if he would call me. He never called. Ed Hagerty, for whatever reason, “wants” this deal with the county to go through. However, it can’t go through. Even the county will know that it is not in the best interests of this city for the city government to just so blatantly hand the county $1.25 million per year without appropriate standards of performance and provisions that would disallow our funds from being used to provide service to the county. That’s why this is a dead deal before it even gets started. There are too many on the county commission who are determined that this city establish its own fire department for this deal to got through. The county will reject it, even if there are three people or more on our city commission who are boneheaded enough to offer the deal. Everyone and their brother is now aware of the improper funding of WEMA. The train, as far as this deal is concerned, has left the proverbial station. Too late.

    6-54-601. Contracts and mutual aid agreements.

    (a) Incorporated cities and towns are authorized to enter into contracts and mutual aid agreements with other incorporated cities and towns, with counties, with private incorporated fire departments, with utility districts that provide firefighting service, with metropolitan airport authorities that provide firefighting service, and with industrial fire departments to furnish one another assistance in fighting fires.

    (b) Incorporated cities and towns may also enter into contracts with organizations of residents and property owners of unincorporated communities for the purpose of providing firefighting assistance to the unincorporated community.

    (c) Any incorporated city or town may provide fire protection to citizens outside the territorial limits of the municipality on an individual contractual basis whenever an agreement has been made for the extension of that service by the legislative body of the municipality and the legislative body of the county in which the fire protection is to be provided. In addition, any municipality may provide fire protection to citizens within an area outside the territorial limits of the municipality without individual contracts whenever an agreement has been made by the legislative body of the municipality, and the legislative body of the county in which fire protection is to be provided for the extension of that service and establishing the area to be served. Counties may appropriate funds for the payment of compensation to the municipalities for the extension of firefighting service.

    (d) Contracts or mutual aid agreements entered into pursuant to this section by an incorporated city or town shall, in the judgment of the city’s or town’s governing body, be advantageous to and serve the public interest of the city or town.

    (e) The authority in this section for municipalities to go outside their corporate limits to provide firefighting service is in addition and supplemental to, and not in substitution for, any such authority in any other general law or in any municipality’s charter.

    Acts 1957, ch. 223, § 1; T.C.A., § 6-631; Acts 1983, ch. 45, § 1; 1983, ch. 289, § 1; 1984, ch. 554, § 1; 1985, ch. 159, § 1; 1987, ch. 158, §§ 1, 2.

  89. Southsider

    When has rewarding failure ever resulted in success? WEMA in its present form has failed to provide adequate service for Mt. Juliet and west Wilson County for years. Does anyone really think throwing 1.2 million more dollars at it every year will change anything?

    Ed, dude, is this deal really the best that you can do? With ten years experience on both the Planning and City Commission, this is the very best leadership you can provide? Really?

  90. Sonny Griffin

    Would someone please answer my question how WEMA gets by with two men on a fire engine when NFPA, TOSHA and OSHA require four and mandate the two in/two out rule?

    I don’t really care that much for damned government agencies, but these rules just make sense. The safety of the firefighters is at stake. If two are in and none are out, who is outside to rescue them if they get in trouble? They are in what I believe is called an IDLH atmosphere. (immediately dangerous to life and health) They are wearing self contained breathing apparatus. The two who should have been outside would have had scba and would have been there to coordinate the attack on the fire and attempt rescue of the in fire fighters as a last resort. But they are not there.

    The safety of the public is at stake. What would you do if you were one of the two fire fighters who just arrived at a house fire and the mother came up to you screaming that her child was inside? One in/one out doesn’t work because you need constant communication between the two that are in. Suppose a flaming timber falls on the firefighter. There is no one to help.

    I’m sure that most fire fighters, being the special people that they are, go in anyway.

    Two men on a fire engine is not adequate fire protection. Let’s don’t keep on paying for something that’s already broke. If we are going to fix this thing, let’s start at the grass roots.

  91. Shawn Donovan

    Sonny,

    As you know I am a Firefighter-Medic (as a career in Franklin and volunteer here at WEMA) and yes you are very correct that running staffing with only two members is very unsafe and unacceptable to me as well.

    You ask how they get away with it when its mandated by NFPA, well the answer is pretty simple NFPA is basically a guideline and not a law. If your department adopts certain parts of NFPA standards then they follow them and WEMA has not adopted the NFPA 1710 standard which dictates staffing. In my opinion, WEMA should never have less then 3 people per fire engine period and would like to see 4 people if possible. That is one thing I think needs to be adopted in this new interlocal agreement between MJ and the County if there is one negotiated.

    You also mention the 2 in/2 out rules. This is a law that we follow but it can be basically “suspended” if there is a known rescue, aka if you know someone is trapped you can go in without the 2 out if their is a life concern. Again as you noted yes firefighers being firefighers our number one priority is life safety (ours included), so we will make our best effort to save a trapped person inside a building if we feel that we can do it, but if the house is fully involved (the whole house is on fire) and the chances are very low that the person can be alive inside we have to make the hard decision to not go in. Unfortunately that decision has to be made in order to save firefighters lives because we always want to make the “save” and not admit we can’t do it.

    As I continue to hear all this talk about how nothing will happen until someone gets killed in a fire or feel for the firefighers working for WEMA but still nothings happens. The statement about “nothing will happen til someone dies” angers me the most because I have personally been on two such fires in my career that we had people trapped and were ordered not to go in for our safety, one in which involved a 11 year old girl that got trapped inside the home and we weren’t allowed to go in to try and rescue due to the conditions of the house (it was fully involved). I have with my own eyes had to watch a family screaming in agony for us to do something because there 11 year old daughter couldn’t get out because the fire was so bad, and then after the fire was finally extinguished had to dig through the house to find the body of this small child and help remove it, these images haunt me to this day in my career. The second fire happened just this past September in Franklin in which we lost a person who got trapped inside and apartment and the fire so intense we couldn’t make it inside the apartment due to flames.

    As I have talked and emailed our elected officials and others I continue to stress for them to do the right thing for not only the citizens but more importantly for my brother and sister firefighters who put that uniform on every morning at 7:30 a.m. to start a shift knowing they are understaffed, underpaid, underequipped, and underappreciated. I say underappreciated because my brother and sister firefighters come to work every shift to keep us safe, take care of us when were ill, rescue us when we get injured or trapped, or even come teach fire safety at local schools to our children and churchs yet we don’t give them the manpower or equipment to keep them safe or pay them a living wage. Like you and I, my brother and sister firefighters all have spouses and children who want them to come home in the morning after a shift (just like my own wife and two children want me to return to them in the morning after a shift at Franklin Fire or after I fought a fire here in Wilson County as a Volunteer). For what they do for us they deserve to be safe and be able to provide for their families and I personally will not stop fighting for a solution til this happens not only as a brother firefighter, but as a taxpayer in not only Mt. Juliet but Wilson County.

    I’ve had people ask me in the past why I volunteer as a Firefighter-Medic in Wilson County when I”m already doing it for a career in Franklin… the answer is simple, to help my brother and sister firefighters be safer by giving them some more manpower that they deserve to have 24/7 in the seats and to protect our families. As I have hoped for years now without nothing of particular substance occurring with this issue, I can only hope for the near future with the current talks something positive happens.

  92. Sonny Griffin

    Thank you for answering , Shawn and thank you for your volunteer work for Wilson County. It is deeply appreciated.

    I can understand how WEMA can get by NFPA as they have not adopted their policy.

    However, I can’t understand how WEMA can get by OSHA and TOSHA. Tennessee has an OSHA approved plan and you as a paid firefighter are subject to the protection provided by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

    OSHA requires that a minimum of two individuals, operating as a team in direct voice or visual contact, conduct interior fire fighting operations utilizing SCBA. In addition, a minimum of two individuals who are properly equipped and trained must be positioned outside the IDLH atmosphere, account for the interior team(s) and remain capable of rapid rescue of the interior team. The outside personnel must at all times account for and be available to assist or rescue members of the interior team. [29 CFR 1910.134(g)(4)]

    How can WEMA operate with two men per engine when the law (and it is a law) says they can’t? CFR stands for Code of Federal Regulations.

  93. Butch Huber

    To all:

    Our city government and our county government have been provided with irrefutable proof that the manner in which WEMA and the County-wide Fire Department are being funded is unlawful. The county has to reconcile its funding of WEMA, the county-wide fire department, and, if the county contends that Ambulance Service is not a part of the County-wide fire department, it has to also reconcile how it pays for ambulance services as well. This all has to be done before any legal deal can be struck between Mt. Juliet and the county, or between any other city and the county for that matter.

    In order for WEMA to continue its operations as a countywide fire department, there has to be foundational and fundamental change in how they fund it and how they operated it. There has to also be foundational and fundamental change in “where” they operate. The governments of this county are on notice: They have to change what they are doing, how they do it, and where they do it. Everything has to change. The countywide fire department model in this county has to be restructured from the ground up. They can’t just put a band-aid on it anymore; they actually have to fix it now. In the past it may have made sense to put a band-aid on it and kick the issue down the road, however, with the explosive growth that has occurred, and that will occur, in Mt. Juliet, they have to prepare and plan for the future.

    We can’t specifically tell our government how they have to do what they are going to do, but by God we can make sure that they don’t do it illegally. There are so many avenues to fix things if they make bad choices (if such choices are illegal) it would make your head spin. This time they are exposed. This time they have nowhere to hide. This time, they have to actually fix it. We can’t settle for anything less.

  94. Shawn Donovan

    Thank you Sonny.. Actually quite ironic that I hit submit to my post and not 15 minutes later was heading to a reported house fire with someone trapped on S. Posey Hill Road, thankfully no one was trapped inside on arrival.

  95. Ben Dover & C. Howett Fields

    OMG!!!! Nobody going to pay the least bit of attention to you. They gonna do what they gonna do. F#!* you! King Ed been there too long. King Eds a brourocrat. county gonna completely ignore your ass and do what they alwas do
    king ed takes easy way out. don’ give a s#!* about tax payer money.
    No f!%#*%$! common sese att all. Greez up reel good KYs pretty cheap
    hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!!!!!!!

  96. Sean Evans

    I have to agree with Ben… I had a very interesting meeting today with Jack Pratt and the county board of equalization. If anyone has a similar meeting scheduled to request a property assessment override you absolutely need to hear my story.

    The bottom line – the representatives in our city and county government can do whatever they want to do because the majority of the public has its head so deep in the sand it all goes unnoticed. The idea of checks and balances is gone. They have the power and we don’t.

  97. Well I see in addition to NOT being able to provide fire and emergency medical services to the citizens, now we cannot afford increased safety. Seems we can’t build Chief Andy and the boys in BLUE a new HQ. Could someone please tell me just what the $#@$ we can afford and if you say redlight cameras, I will brown bag your front door. Only old schoolers know what that means. Seriously, friends and neighbors, we need to take this city back. Next election, those who run need to be grilled.
    RP

  98. Sonny Griffin

    The more I look into this fire issue, the more disgusted I am with our City and County governments. Although very important, this is only one situation that is FUBAR in Mt. Juliet. There is no respect for the law or ethics. There is no regard for citizen or firefighter safety. Hell, it seems nobody cares about anything. Maybe Ben is right.

    That having been said, I would hope that somewhere deep inside all of us there is human decency that cares about the lives and well being of our neighbors.

    In the thirty years I have been in business, I have had some very trying times with OSHA but I have always tried to comply. I have a special feeling for anyone that has ever worked for me. As their employer, I feel a responsibility to make their workplace as safe as possible. I believe that working with OSHA has helped us provide a safer workplace.We have worked in very hazardous situations; commercial roofing, architectural sheet metal,
    all kinds of high work, around dangerous equipment, etc. We have never had a lost day accident in thirty years. I’m both proud and thankful for that.

    I want to share with everyone what OSHA has to say about our situation with our firefighters. I know it’s long, but it’s pertinent to the issue. So, please read it to the end.

    1. What is the federal OSHA Respiratory Protection Standard?

    In 1971, federal OSHA adopted a respiratory protection standard requiring employers to establish and maintain a respiratory protection program for their respirator-wearing employees. The revised standard strengthens some requirements and eliminates duplicative requirements in other OSHA health standards. The standard specifically addresses the use of respirators in immediately dangerous to life or health (IDLH) atmospheres, including interior structural fire fighting. OSHA defines structures that are involved in fire beyond the incipient stage as IDLH atmospheres. In these atmospheres,
    OSHA requires that personnel use self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA), that a minimum of two fire fighters work as a team inside the structure, and that a minimum of two fire fighters be on standby outside the structure to provide assistance or perform rescue.

    2. Why is this standard important to fire fighters?

    This standard, with its two-in/two-out provision, may be one of the most important safety advances for fire fighters in this decade. Too many fire fighters have died because of insufficient accountability and poor communications. The standard addresses both and leaves no doubt
    that two-in/two-out requirements must be followed for fire fighter safety and compliance with the law.

    3. Which fire fighters are covered by the regulations?

    The federal OSHA standard applies to all private sector workers engaged in fire fighting activities through industrial fire brigades, private incorporated fire companies (including the “employees” of incorporated volunteer companies and private fire departments contracting to public jurisdictions) and federal fire fighters. In 23 states and 2 territories, the state, not the
    federal government, has responsibility for enforcing worker health and safety regulations. These “state plan” states have earned the approval of federal OSHA to implement their own enforcement programs. These states must establish and maintain occupational safety and health programs for all public employees that are as effective as the programs for private sector employees. In addition, state safety and health regulations must be at least as stringent as federal OSHA regulations. Federal OSHA has no direct enforcement authority over state and local governments in states that do not have state OSHA plans. All professional career fire fighters, whether state, county, or municipal, in any of the states or territories where an OSHA state plan agreement is in effect, have the protection of all federal OSHA health and safety standards, including the new respirator standard and its
    requirements for fire fighting operations. The following states have OSHA-approved plans and must enforce the two-in/two-out provision for all fire departments.
    North Carolina
    Oregon
    Puerto Rico
    South Carolina
    Tennessee
    Utah
    Vermont
    Kentucky
    Maryland
    Michigan
    Minnesota
    Nevada
    New Mexico
    New York
    Virginia
    Virgin Islands
    Washington
    Wyoming
    Alaska
    Arizona
    California
    Connecticut
    Hawaii
    Indiana
    Iowa
    A number of other states have adopted, by reference, federal OSHA regulations for public employee fire fighters. These states include Florida, Illinois and Oklahoma. In these states, the regulations carry the force of state law. Additionally, a number of states have adopted NFPA standards, including NFPA 1500, Standard for Fire Department Occupational Safety and Health Program. The 1997 edition of NFPA 1500 now includes requirements corresponding to OSHA’s respiratory protection regulation. Since the NFPA is a private consensus standards organization, its recommendations are
    preempted by OSHA regulations that are more stringent. In other words, the OSHA regulations are the minimum requirement where they are legally applicable. There is nothing in federal regulations that “deem compliance” with any consensus standards, including NFPA standards, if the consensus standards are less stringent.
    It is unfortunate that all U.S. and Canadian fire fighters are not covered by the OSHA respiratory protection standard. However, we must consider the two-in/two-out requirements to be the minimum acceptable standard for safe fire ground operations for all fire fighters when selfcontained breathing apparatus is used.

    4. When are two-in/two-out procedures required for fire fighters?

    OSHA states that “once fire fighters begin the interior attack on an interior structural fire, the atmosphere is assumed to be IDLH and paragraph 29 CFR 1910.134(g)(4) [two-in/two-out] applies.” OSHA defines interior structural fire fighting “as the physical activity of fire suppression, rescue or both inside of buildings or enclosed structures which are involved in a fire situation beyond the incipient stage.” OSHA further defines an incipient stage fire in
    29 CFR 1910.155(c)(26) as a “fire which is in the initial or beginning stage and which can be controlled or extinguished by portable fire extinguishers, Class II standpipe or small hose systems without the need for protective clothing or breathing apparatus.” Any structural fire beyond incipient stage is
    considered to be an IDLH atmosphere by OSHA.

    5. What respiratory protection is required for interior structural fire fighting?

    OSHA requires that all fire fighters engaged in interior structural fire fighting must wear SCBAs. SCBAs must be NIOSH-certified, positive pressure, with a minimum duration of 30 minutes. [29 CFR 1910.156(f)(1)(ii)] and [29 CFR 1910.134(g)(4)(iii)]

    6. Are all fire fighters performing interior structural fire fighting operations required to operate in a buddy system with two or more personnel?

    Yes. OSHA clearly requires that all workers engaged in interior structural fire fighting operations beyond the incipient stage use SCBA and work in teams of two or more. [29 CFR 1910.134(g)(4)(i)]

    7. Are fire fighters in the interior of the structure required to be in direct contact with one another?

    Yes. Fire fighters operating in the interior of the structure must operate in a buddy system and maintain voice or visual contact with one another at all times. This assists in assuring accountability within the team. [29 CFR 1910.134(g)(4)(i)]

    8. Can radios or other means of electronic contact be substituted for visual or voice contact, allowing fire fighters in an interior structural fire to separate from their “buddy” or “buddies”?

    No. Due to the potential of mechanical failure or reception failure of electronic communication devices, radio contact is not acceptable to replace visual or voice contact between the members of the “buddy system” team. Also, the individual needing rescue may not be physically able to operate an electronic device to alert other members of the interior team that assistance is needed. Radios can and should be used for communications on the fire ground, including communications between the interior fire fighter team(s) and exterior fire fighters. They cannot, however, be the sole tool for accounting for one’s partner in the interior of a structuralfire. [29 CFR 1910.134(g)(4)(i)] [29 CFR 1910.134(g)(3)(ii)]

    9. Are fire fighters required to be present outside the structural fire prior to a team entering and during the team’s work in the hazard area?

    Yes. OSHA requires at least one team of two or more properly equipped and trained fire fighters be present outside the structure before any team(s) of fire fighters enter the structural fire. This requirement is intended to assure that the team outside the structure has the training, clothing and equipment to protect themselves and, if necessary, safely and effectively rescue fire fighters inside the structure. For high-rise operations, the team(s) would be staged below the IDLH atmosphere. [29 CFR 1910.134(g)(3)(iii)]

    10. Do these regulations mean that, at a minimum, four individuals are required, that is, two individuals working as a team in the interior of the structural fire and two individuals outside the structure for assistance or rescue?

    Yes. OSHA requires that a minimum of two individuals, operating as a team in direct voice or visual contact, conduct interior fire fighting operations utilizing SCBA. In addition, a minimum of two individuals who are properly equipped and trained must be positioned outside the IDLH atmosphere, account for the interior team(s) and remain capable of rapid rescue of the interior team. The outside personnel must at all times account for and be
    available to assist or rescue members of the interior team. [29 CFR 1910.134(g)(4)]

    11. Does OSHA permit the two individuals outside the hazard area to be engaged in other activities, such as incident command or fire apparatus
    operation (for example, pump or aerial operators)?

    OSHA requires that one of the two outside person’s function is to account for and, if necessary, initiate a fire fighter rescue. Aside from this individual dedicated to tracking interior personnel, the other designated person(s) is permitted to take on other roles, such as incident commander in charge of the emergency incident, safety officer or equipment operator. However, the
    other designated outside person(s) cannot be assigned tasks that are critical to the safety and health of any other employee working at the incident.
    Any task that the outside fire fighter(s) performs while in standby rescue status must not interfere with the responsibility to account for those individuals in the hazard area. Any task, evolution, duty, or function being performed by the standby individual(s) must be such that the work can be abandoned, without placing any employee at additional risk, if rescue or
    other assistance is needed. [29 CFR 1910.134(g)(4)(Note 1)]

    12. If a rescue operation is necessary, must the buddy system be maintained while entering the interior structural fire?

    Yes. Any entry into an interior structural fire beyond the incipient stage, regardless of the reason, must be made in teams of two or more individuals. [29 CFR 1910.134(g)(4)(i)]

    13. Do the regulations require two individuals outside for each team of individuals operating in the interior of a structural fire?

    The regulations do not require a separate “two-out” team for each team operating in the structure. However, if the incident escalates, if accountability cannot be properly maintained from a single exposure, or if rapid rescue becomes infeasible, additional outside crews must be added. For example, if the involved structure is large enough to require entry at different locations or levels, additional “two-out” teams would be required. [29 CFR 1910.134(g)(4)]

    14. If four fire fighters are on the scene of an interior structural fire, is it permissible to enter the structure with a team of two?

    OSHA’s respiratory protection standard is not about counting heads. Rather, it dictates functions of fire fighters prior to an interior attack. The entry team must consist of at least two individuals. Of the two fire fighters outside, one must perform accountability functions and be immediately available for fire fighter rescue. As explained above, the other may perform other tasks, as long as those tasks do not interfere with the accountability functions and can
    be abandoned to perform fire fighter rescue. Depending on the operating procedures of the fire department, more than four individuals may be required. [29 CFR 1910.134(g)(4)(i)]

    15. Does OSHA recognize any exceptions to this regulation?
    OSHA regulations recognize deviations to regulations in an emergency operation where immediate action is necessary to save a life. For fire department employers, initial attack operations must be organized to ensure that adequate personnel are at the emergency scene prior to any interior attack at a structural fire. If initial attack personnel find a known lifehazard
    situation where immediate action could prevent the loss of life, deviation from the two-in/two-out standard may be permitted, as an exception to the fire department’s organizational plan. However, such deviations from the regulations must be exceptions and not defacto standard practices. In fact, OSHA may still issue “de minimis” citations for such deviations from the
    standard, meaning that the citation will not require monetary penalties or corrective action. The exception is for a known life rescue only, not for standard search and rescue activities. When the exception becomes the practice, OSHA citations are authorized. [29 CFR
    1910.134(g)(4)(Note 2)]

    16. Does OSHA require employer notification prior to any rescue by the outside personnel?

    Yes. OSHA requires the fire department or fire department designee (i.e. incident commander) be notified prior to any rescue of fire fighters operating in an IDLH atmosphere. The fire department would have to provide any additional assistance appropriate to the emergency,
    including the notification of on-scene personnel and incoming units. Additionally, any such actions taken in accordance with the “exception” provision should be thoroughly investigated by the fire department with a written report submitted to the Fire Chief. [29 CFR
    1910.134(g)(3)(iv)]

    17. How do the regulations affect fire fighters entering a hazardous environment that is not an interior structural fire?

    Fire fighters must adhere to the two-in/two-out regulations for other emergency response operations in any IDLH, potential IDLH, or unknown atmosphere. OSHA permits one standby person only in those IDLH environments in fixed workplaces, not fire emergency situations.
    Such sites, in normal operating conditions, contain only hazards that are known, well characterized, and well controlled. [29 CFR 1910.120(q)(3)(vi)

    18. When is the new regulation effective?

    The revised OSHA respiratory protection standard was released by the Department of Labor and published in the Federal Register on January 8, 1998. It is effective on April 8, 1998. “State Plan” states have six months from the release date to implement and enforce the new regulations. Until the April 8 effective date, earlier requirements for two-in/two-out are in effect. The formal interpretation and compliance memo issued by James W. Stanley, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor, on May 1, 1995 and the compliance memo issued by Assistant Secretary of Labor Joe Dear on July 30, 1996 establish that OSHA interprets the earlier 1971 regulation as requiring two-in/two-out. [29 CFR 1910.134(n)(1)]

    19. How does a fire department demonstrate compliance with the regulations?

    Fire departments must develop and implement standard operating procedures addressing fire ground operations and the two-in/two-out procedures to demonstrate compliance. Fire department training programs must ensure that fire fighters understand and implement appropriate two-in/two-out procedures. [29 CFR 1910.134(c)]

    20. What can be done if the fire department does not comply?

    Federal OSHA and approved state plan states must “.. assure so far as possible every working man and woman in the Nation safe and healthful working conditions.” To ensure such protection, federal OSHA and states with approved state plans are authorized to enforce safety and health standards. These agencies must investigate complaints and conduct
    inspections to make sure that specific standards are met and that the workplace is generally free from recognized hazards likely to cause death or serious physical harm. Federal OSHA and state occupational safety and health agencies must investigate written complaints signed by current employees or their representatives regarding hazards that threaten
    serious physical harm to workers. By law, federal and state OSHA agencies do not reveal the name of the person filing the complaint, if he or she so requests. Complaints regarding imminent danger are investigated even if they are unsigned or anonymous. For all other complaints (from other than a current employee, or unsigned, or anonymous), the agency may send a letter to the employer describing the complaint and requesting a response. It is
    important that an OSHA (either federal or state) complaint be in writing.
    When an OSHA inspector arrives, he or she displays official credentials and asks to see the
    employer. The inspector explains the nature of the visit, the scope of the inspection and applicable standards. A copy of any employee complaint (edited, if requested, to conceal
    the employee’s identity) is available to the employer. An employer
    representative may accompany the inspector during the inspection. An authorized representative of the employees, if any, also has the right to participate in the inspection. The inspector may review records, collect information and view work sites. The inspector may also interview
    employees in private for additional information. Federal law prohibits discrimination in any form by employers against workers because of anything that workers say or show the inspector during the inspection or for any other OSHA protected safety-related activity. Investigations of imminent danger situations have top priority. An imminent danger is a hazard that could cause death or serious physical harm immediately, or before the danger can be eliminated through normal enforcement procedures. Because of the hazardous and unpredictable nature of the fire ground, a fire department’s failure to comply with the two-in/ two-out requirements creates an imminent danger and the agency receiving a related complaint must provide an immediate response. If inspectors find imminent danger conditions,
    they will ask for immediate voluntary correction of the hazard by the employer or removal of endangered employees from the area. If an employer fails to do so, federal OSHA can go to federal district court to force the employer to comply. State occupational safety and health agencies rely on state courts for similar authority. Federal and state OSHA agencies are required by law to issue citations for violations of safety and health standards. The agencies are not permitted to issue warnings. Citations
    include a description of the violation, the proposed penalty (if any), and the date by which the hazard must be corrected. Citations must be posted in the workplace to inform employees about the violation and the corrective action. [29 CFR 1903.3(a)]

    It is important for labor and management to know that this regulation can also be used as evidence of industry standards and feasibility in arbitration and grievance hearings on fire fighter safety, as well as in other civil or criminal legal proceedings involving injury or death where the cause can be attributed to employer failure to implement two-in/two-out procedures.
    Regardless of OSHA’s enforcement authority, this federal regulation links fire ground operations with fire fighter safety.

    21. What can be done if a fire fighter does not comply with fire department operating procedures for two-in/two-out?

    Fire departments must amend any existing policies and operational procedures to address the two-in/two-out regulations and develop clear protocols and reporting procedures for deviations from these fire department policies and procedures . Any individual violating this safety regulation should face appropriate departmental action.

    22. How can I obtain additional information regarding the OSHA respirator standard and the two-in/two-out provision?

    Affiliates of the International Association of Fire Fighters may contact:
    International Association of Fire Fighters
    Department of Occupational Health and Safety
    1750 New York Avenue, NW
    Washington, DC 20006
    202-737-8484
    202-737-8418 (FAX)
    Members of the International Association of Fire Chiefs may contact:
    International Association of Fire Chiefs
    4025 Fair Ridge Drive
    Fairfax, VA 22033-2868
    703-273-0911
    703-273-9363 (FAX)

    Does WEMA meet the above OSHA requirements? In other words, does WEMA operate within the law? Mr. Hutto and Mr. Jewell should be invited to the next City Commission meeting and asked these questions before one more step is taken. A Tennessee OSHA official should also be invited so he could listen to their answers and give his opinion. Does operating within the law matter to the commission. Who the hell knows?

    I’m going to send this suggestion to the commission for what it’s worth. Before I do, has anybody got any comments?

  99. Southsider

    I have a comment Sonny. Why would the Mt. Juliet City Commission fund WEMA with 1.2 million a year if their operation is not OSHA compliant?

    Would they work a Police Officer that is not POST certified?

  100. Sonny Griffin

    That’s a great comment Southsider.

    That’s why I think it would be a good idea for everybody to lay their cards on the table and determine if WEMA is OSHA compliant before another step is taken. A meeting among the Mt. Juliet City Commission, Mayor Hutto, WEMA Director Jewell and Tennessee OSHA is essential in that determination.

    It’s time everybody puts their “big boy britches” on and figures out what the hell is going on.

    I know one thing. I would hate to have the life of a firefighter or child trapped in a fire on my conscience because of this political bull shit. I, for one, am sick of it.

  101. Sonny & Southsider,
    Get Ed involved…he is putting his faith and your money in the county to do the right thing. Also, would not be a bad idea to get some of the men and women doing the job…I hear tell you tend to learn a few things when you do a few things.
    RP

  102. Sonny Griffin

    RP,

    I agree with you about having to do something to learn something.

    I stopped by Station 3 in Mt. Juliet a couple of weeks ago. and had a very enlightening discussion with two firefighters.

    Both had second jobs. Both said they were always understaffed. They seemed like fine young men to me who were completely dedicated to emergency service.

    I’ve learned that the WEMA personnel who fight the fires and run medical emergencies for us are dedicated and underpaid individuals who should, at the very least, be able to work under an OSHA regulated employer.

    If we can’t afford to make WEMA OSHA compliant, then we can’t afford WEMA.

  103. AirDance

    One of, and surly the most important, reason for establishing Mt. Juliet (incorporating) was to leverage (increase) the effective political influence of the county citizens in this area, which now encompasses most of West Wilson. Many side benefits of self-determination and control resulted from incorporating but to those who really how county policy was made, such was never the main objective. The original plan and purpose for having a City of Mt. Juliet is now either totally lost and forgotten or totally backfired. Simply because the city exists the citizens thereof now have LESS influence on county policy making than their rural or otherwise unincorporated brethren. Same for Watertown, not so much the same for Lebanon. The best thing the citizens of Mt.Juliet can do now is dissolve or de-charter the city. Only then will they recognize themselves as they truly are, Wilson County citizens first and foremost. And by doing so they will actually increase their influence on the county. County level policy has and always will influence county residents far more than city policies can or ever will.

  104. Southsider

    The County Commission believes that rural residents deserve the same level of emergency services as urban residents. That sounds great rolling off the tobacco-stained lips of rural politicians but the reality is that adequate service looks different in different places. There are places in Wilson County without fire hydrants. There are places in Wilson County without enough water pressure to have fire hydrants. Those places require a completely different emergency response team.

    People who buy land miles away from utility services pay a lot less for the land. They also pay a lot less taxes on that land. People who live in urban areas pay much more for the right to live in Wilson County.

    I think all Wilson County residents deserve adequate emergency service even though adequate service looks different in different places. Fire Tax Districts allow fair funding in both rural and urban environments. The county continues to oppose fair funding of emergency services for one reason only – urban taxpayers will no longer subsidize rural residents.

    Mt. Juliet should force the county to provide adequate service and fund it correctly or start its own Fire Department. Given the lack of leadership presently on the Mt. Juliet Commission, the latter may be the only viable solution.

  105. I have reluctantly come to the same conclusion. The taxpayer should get the most cost-efficient solution, which is a county-wide fire service. The two layers of local government appear to be genetically incapable of accomplishing that. Only viable solution is for MJ to start it’s own fire department, and do so at the least possible cost to the taxpayers. MJ does NOT need a property tax to do this. Randy Robertson has been whining about not have a property tax almost since he arrived. He’s a bureaucrat, angling for more money. He does not have the taxpayer’s interests at heart. He just wants more money for HIS organization. MJ needs to start a fire department AND an ambulance service. Use the ambulance revenue + growth in sales tax revenue + reduction in other departments to finance its own emergency service. This would have three positive effects: 1)MJ could double the manpower & equipment available locally; 2) MJ would have control over operations; 3) MJ would continue with a -0- property tax rate, which would REALLY piss the county off. Big win!

  106. Publius,

    I agree that the county-wide fire service is the most cost efficient system for the taxpayer.
    Unfortunately, the statesmanship and maturity of both the County Commission and the City of Mt. Juliet Commission are so lacking that this can’t be accomplished.

    It makes me wonder if Mt. Juliet has the leadership and management to handle its own fire department. Mt. Juliet politicians and management have known about the emergency services problem for years yet we still have the same service currently that we had when the population was 10,000 rather than 30,000.

    What has the City Commission been doing all these years? Well, for one thing they were trying to borrow money to buy land to give to the YMCA.

    What are they doing about the Central Pike interchange? Mt. Juliet Road will be obsolete when Paddocks is finished out. We will be right back where we started with the traffic situation.

    The County is busy with building air conditioned horse barns.

    You know, it sure would be nice if Mt. Juliet could have a long term contract with a private organization to provide emergency services. Then it would be treated as a business. It would have to supply adequate service which meets Federal and State regulations and provides for the welfare and safety of the firefighter and the citizen.

    I can’t see the the people we have in place in Mt. Juliet government being able to make the transition from WEMA to Mt. Juliet Fire and Emergency Services.

  107. butch huber

    Don’t you find it interesting that the county all along has been saying, “there isn’t a law that says that we have to have a fire department, yet now they are saying, “the people who live in Cottage Home deserve fire protection just like everyone else has”? Don’t you find that a to be a radical departure, or at least a very interesting contrasting view point from the same set of people? “We don’t have to provide it, but those people who live out there in the sticks deserve it.” How does one reconcile both positions? If the county isn’t required to provide it, then nobody deserves it. Now, you should have a right to ensure you have it, and if you pay for something you deserve to have it, but if government isn’t required to provide it you aren’t entitled to it from the government, but then the government can’t charge you for it either unless they provide it. Did that make sense? I am not part of the Tennessee General Assembly and never have been, so I can’t be blamed for the laws that exist, but those laws are written in such a way that those who pay for fire protection services pay for those services that they actually receive. The county wants to overrule the state general assembly and say, “we aren’t going to listen” and “make us”. The general assembly should take the county to court and force them to comply with the law. The county is obviously using property taxes to pay for fire protection services in contravention to state law. Shouldn’t the general assembly have some sort of mechanism to enforce its own laws upon errant governments? Perhaps we are going about this from the wrong end. Perhaps we need to be petitioning Congress to issue a direct order to Wilson County to mend its ways or else face being dissolved as a government. That would send the message, wouldn’t it. This issue would be resolved in a New York second.

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