Wilson County’s Account of WEMA Services

Read the following document carefully. It was prepared by WEMA (run by the County) for the County. It calculates the costs of WEMA services provided to residents of Lebanon, Mt. Juliet, Watertown, and unincorporated  Wilson County. It divides 100% of the WEMA budget amongst the geography based on the man-hours spent on calls. The calculated cost per hour is $584.44.

Note especially that WEMA provides (by their own accounting) $430,881.89 of Rescue services in Lebanon and only $243,425.09 of Rescue services in Mt. Juliet.

And yet the hue and cry is that Mt. Juliet must pay (either $300k or $700k, or $1.2 million) for WEMA services. And Lebanon will presumably continue to receive WEMA services for free.

Peruse the chart. Make your own spreadsheet. Note especially, that if you combine the three non-Ambulance categories, WEMA provides $468k in services to Lebanon and $338k to Mt. Juliet.

Mt. Juliet must pay. Lebanon must continue to get theirs for free.

If Mt. Juliet MUST according to the Wilson County Commission impose a property tax of $0.20 and turn it all over to the county, then shouldn’t Lebanon HAVE TO impose a property tax of $0.27 and turn it all over to the county?

WEMA spends 38.6% MORE on services provided to the city of Lebanon than it does on services provided to the city of Mt. Juliet.

But only Mt. Juliet must pay.

We dare you. Cut off WEMA services to Mt. Juliet. We DARE you! Pull your equipment out of Mt. Juliet. We double-dog DARE you. . . sue is!

Discovery would be delightful. With this spreadsheet now seeing the light of day, what other gems must there be still hidden and guarded in the county archives and financial records?

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60 Comments

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

60 responses to “Wilson County’s Account of WEMA Services

  1. Butch Huber

    The county reported, or intends to report, the $1.794 million figure at the bottom of that spreadsheet to the comptroller as the “Total fire costs”. This is their number, not ours, not mine. Their figure. Their figure. Their figure. They figured that number on their own. They figured that number so as to assure the comptroller that they can fund fire protection services using only state shared revenue. Now that they have taken this stance, we can go on to figure our portion of the costs in Mt. Juliet. The county provides ambulance services, legally or not, throughout all of Wilson County, so they can’t charge us for that. The county provides rescue and public assistance to all of the county, so they can’t use that figure. The county provides public assistance to all areas of the county, so they can’t us that number. The only thing left is fire. Our portion of those costs is $82,823.58 minus rental value of about $40,000. That means that we should only be responsible for about $42,823.58. However, I just remembered something from my conversation with Mayor Hutto. He said that hazardous material response would be included in with fire. We need to figure out what else is included in with “Fire”. If the county provides those other elements to the entire county, even the $82,823.58 figure would likely be too high. This issue was obviously more about forcing the city to increase its property tax rate above zero more than anything else that has been said. We have been saying that all along, this is about property taxes, not fire service. The more we look into this, the more that this is shown to be true.

    I hope everyone can appreciate the value of this site. Publius has provided this community with a tremendous tool. Truth can make its way to the public using this site.

  2. “Duh, winning”!
    Wilson County to Mt. Juliet
    Charlie Sheen to the world. (2011)

    Butch,
    Having haz-mat icluded in the fire total does not make sense. Just as rescue is a separate, stand alone service, haz-mat is as well. More times than not haz-mat centers on loss of containment than fire. it does happen, just not as much. That said, haz-mat is very expensive for all involved; however WEMA charges for the assets used in haz-mat mitigation. If ABC Co. has a truck that flips on I40 and spills it cargo, WEMA will mitigate the loss of containment, meaning they will stop the leak and work to get the incident to a “hold” position. In large scale incidents, WEMA does not do clean up. That’s where the big bucks and fines come in. But aside that, WEMA does not answer many haz-mat calls. Mostly fuel spills at Uncle Pete’s where they go in, spread some kitty litter and leave. The bulk of the expenditure here is getting the equiptment necessarry for Armageddon. Most of WEMA’s money is spent on things they never get to use (we’re talking bookoo dollar)and then the things go bad on the shelf. If you weed out haz-mat from this figure, as it should be stand alone like rescue, that $82k figure wouls decrease big time. My question is, “Did they lump that in by design to inflate the number”? From experience, it does not make sense.

    RP

  3. PS
    In re-reading my post, I don’t think I made it clear. WEMA will charge ABC Co. for the materials and manpower in mitigating the incident. WEMA buys the equipment then either charges comapnies for its use or re-buys it when it goes out of date. Clear as mud? I will review after coffee.
    RP

  4. Sonny Griffin

    The County seems to have forgotten one little detail in their rather unusual analysis of WEMA costs. What about the 1.8 million dollars collected from patient charges for ambulance services?

    Where the hell did that go?

    The real problem that the County has got is that they have been illegally paying for fire protection out of property taxes for many years.

    Their hand has been called, so now they have no choice but to try to baffle us with bull shit.

    We all know that basing costs on number of calls is asinine.

    It doesn’t make any difference in manpower or equipment costs whether an ambulance or fire truck makes 1 call or 5000 calls except for fuel, maintenance and expendable items. The vast majority of the cost is in manpower and equipment and that remains the same whether that equipment sits there or runs its ass off.

    The County has been caught in a trap. The trap was sprung when Mayor Hagerty wrote the State Comptroller’s Office wanting to know if WEMA was funded properly.

    When the Comptroller’s Office started looking into the matter, the County had to come up with its rather novel approach to cost accounting. It had to find a way to pay for fire service with situs based taxes in unincorporated areas of Wilson County. Thus, cost accounting based on number of calls.

    Until the County fesses up and gets its training pants on, I personally see no choice but for Mt. Juliet to take Court action. Before we do that, however, we need an attorney.

  5. Butch Huber

    It is clear that the county is doing everything that it can to avoid fire districts and fire taxes. All you have to do is spend a little time talking to the people who want to avoid fire districts and you will see them going through so many twists and gyrations you would think you were playing a game of twister.

    The question is, “Why”? Why do they avoid fire tax districts like the plague? There are two basic and fundamental reasons.

    1) The City of Mt. Juliet could opt into the fire district and the county can’t stop them from doing it. The county wants to straddle Mt. Juliet with millions of dollars of duplicated service expense. They want us to waste our money. They want us to have a property tax, and they want us to waste that money in much the same way that Lebanon wastes $3 million per year.

    2) This isn’t about fire, its about property taxes. Oh, did I already say that?

    On to another topic. Ambulance. I have requested evidence of a county resolution authorizing the establishment of a county ambulance service. Mayor Hutto is not aware of any such resolution, nor is he knowledgeable of the absence of such a resolution. They don’t have such a resolution and they know it. They can’t even begin to separate out the costs of such a service. They are being absurd. Everyone knows that ambulance, rescue, hazmat, water rescue, EMS, and all other services offered by WEMA are part of the Countywide Fire Department. Now the county is trying to separate them out. Why? They don’t want to be forced into fire taxes. Why? Because the city could opt into the fire district and avoid the need for a property tax. Why is that bad? Because that is what this is all about in the first place…making Mt. Juliet have a property tax.

    Why is the county saying that if we build a station they will put an ambulance in it? If ambulance is separate from fire, and if there is such a need for enhanced ambulance service in the south side of Mt. Juliet, why does Mt. Juliet have to do anything? The county is saying that ambulance is something that they provide, so why does Mt. Juliet have to do anything to get them to enhance service for ambulance? After all, an awful lot of unincorporated citizens are covered by the service that would go into providence as well, and, after all, the county provides that service, not Mt. Juliet. So, tell me, what does ambulance have to do with Mt. Juliet?

    The same holds true for rescue? Why, when the county says it provides rescue to all of the county, do we have to build a new building for them to provide rescue? Why do we have to pay anything for that service?

    In terms of Fire Suppression, we probably have enough fire suppression service right out of station 3 to take care of what we need. The problem we have is they keep using our fire protection personnel to run ambulance calls for their ambulance service. Oh, wait, that is a separate service, no, wait, they do both, no wait, they are separate services, no wait……

    If you want to see someone talking in a loop, just have this conversation with someone from the county who wants to discontinue services to the City of Mt. Juliet.

  6. Butch Huber

    Really, why is this not game over? The county has lost. They should at this point recognize that the best way forward is to forget the past, forge a new relationship, bridge the gap from east to west, and be responsible partners. Is that too much to ask? The county has so much to gain from a great relationship with Mt. Juliet and everything to lose if they don’t forge a great relationship. Time to bury the hatchet, smoke the peace pipe, shake hands, and find out how much we can do for each other rather than looking for what we can do “to” each other.

  7. Butch Huber

    An email I just sent out:

    Mayor Hutto,

    Having looked over the spreadsheet that you provided to me I am able to calculate that the County spends more on services inside Lebanon than it does inside of Mt. Juliet. In fact, the county spends $2,327,030.85 on emergency services inside the city limits of Lebanon while it only spends a total of $1,321,127.97 on emergency services inside of Mt. Juliet. The county spends more than $1,000,000 more on emergency services inside of Lebanon than it does in Mt. Juliet, yet Mt. Juliet supplies the county with volunteers and equipment and a station. What does Lebanon give back? Why are we being battered because the county provides us with services and why are we being asked to pay for services when you give the city of Lebanon so much without them giving anything back and without them being asked to cough up a single penny? You asked me when we last met if I could seriously say that the county should provide us with fire suppression free of charge. Well, Mayor Hutto, after having reviewed your numbers, I would say the answer to that question would be…..”Yes”.

    Respectfully,

    Butch Huber

  8. Butch,
    In reference to your sentence about having enough fire suppression at present, you are right with 2 exceptions. If…
    1. West Wilson County does not have 2 fires at the same time.
    2. Someone on the west side does not have a MI during any one fire.
    If you are ok with all west side assets being in one place, at one time, for some time, then you are right. My point is the likelyhood of #1 and #2
    is increasing everyday and we owe it to our citizens to be prepared for it knowing this. Have a great day and hydrate.
    RP

  9. Butch Huber

    R.P.

    I am not familiar with “MI”. Is that a myocardial infarction or a medical incident?

    Let be first back up a step. I would love to have more fire stations in this city; fire stations that are fully equipped with fire trucks, brush trucks, a quint in at least one of them, pumpers where needed, and ambulances. However, wars are not typically won all at once, but are usually won one battle at a time. The county chooses to play this game, not me, however, if we are going to play a game, let’s play to win. The county says that it is their responsibility to provide ambulance, rescue, water rescue, hazardous material response, emergency management, special teams, and all other aspects of WEMA. They say their only issue is that they want for us to handle fire suppression for ourselves.

    Will their be two fires at one time? Possibly, maybe probably. However, the first step toward overcoming some of the asinine things we hear coming from the county is to take the issue out of Mt. Juliet and make the focus “West Wilson County”. You have been the great champion of the fact that the county doesn’t provide fire service to Mt. Juliet, but rather it provides service to the coverage area of Station 3 and Station 4 and that Mt. Juliet happens to be a part of those coverage areas. For as long as they are hung up on what they provide or don’t provide or shouldn’t have to provide to Mt. Juliet, the rest of West Wilson County will have inadequate service as well. However, if the city of Mt. Juliet were to hang their own words around their necks and say: “Okay, you say that you are responsible for all of the services provided by WEMA, except for fire suppression inside the city limits of any municipality, well then, we will agree to pay you for the services you provide to Mt. Juliet. We will rent you our building for $40,000, and pay you $42,823 extra to provide fire service to us. In addition, since you have said that you provide ambulance service to all of Wilson County in a service that is separate from Mt. Juliet, we need an interlocal agreement from the county through which the county provides the service to the citizens of this city and whereby we collect the fees for service and pay the county a distributive share of the costs of operating that ambulance. However, before you endeavor to calculate the costs for those services, we demand that you completely separate ambulance from fire service in terms of who is running the fire and who is running the ambulance. In other words, we don’t want our ambulance personnel running fire and vice versa, we want separate personnel. Otherwise, we will run our own ambulance service.” The county keeps saying that ambulance is a losing proposition, which it probably is a losing proposition in the rural areas, however, in urban areas, where the call volume is much higher, I am certain it can be made to be profitable. In other words, the ambulance service may in fact be losing the county money, however, because of the call volume in the cities, it is losing less money than it would if the cities were to say, “No, we will provide our own”. The reality of that premise is that the cities are once again subsidizing the rural.

    By saying to the county, “We are good in regard to fire”, we take away their possibility of using our new station and our new personnel for fighting fires in the county, which is what they want to do. Then, the city should send out flyers to every home in Mt. Juliet explaining that the lack of coverage isn’t so much for fire, but for rescue and ambulance service. That flyer should go on to tell the citizen that the county has accepted that it is their responsibility to provide such services and then it should provide them with Mayor Hutto’s phone number and encourage them to contact Mayor Hutto and complain that they don’t have enough service. The city should also, in the same flyer, explain to the citizens of this city that the county is taking adequate facilities taxes from this area and not spending it back here as the law requires. The flyer should explain that if the county were really doing what it should, the county would use those adequate facilities taxes to build a new station.

    Once the county finally had no place to hide, and once they relented and agreed to build a new station in Providence, the city could come back and ask, “County, are you planning on putting fire engines in that station to provide fire service to the unincorporated portion of the county?” If they said, “Yes”. Then we could say, “we expect you to use that station to provide us with enhanced fire suppression as well, after all, we are paying you full price for fire service, we expect to get what we pay for, which is only fair, right?” You see, the way the county has calculated costs, the costs for fire suppression wouldn’t move the needle one iota no matter how many stations they build here and no matter how many personnel they employ or how much equipment they place here because it is calculated based on total hours spent on fires, not based on real costs. In fact, with faster response times, costs for fire would probably go down, not up, because the need for time to put the fire out would go down.

    The county is bluffing while holding not even a single pair, while we have a stacked hand now. Sonny Griffin, members of our city commission, you, others who are involved, Jamie, and I have reached over, grabbed the county’s arm, twisted their hand around and showed the world what they are holding. They are still acting like they have a royal straight flush, but we all know they have nothing. As soon as this city commission recognizes, if they haven’t already, that it is they, not the county, who has the royal straight flush, this game is going to be over. The county is soon going to be looking for the escape hatch on this one. Only this time, this time, the city should not let them off the hook. The city should keep stirring this one up until they county relents and places a new station and equipment and personnel in the south side of Mt. Juliet. Mt. Juliet is not the only place where growth has occurred south of I40, the unincorporated portions of the county have grown as well.

    So, no, R.P., I don’t think we have what we should, but we have enough to dig our heels in and demand that the county stop beating us up because “THEY” won’t do what they should.

    The county is so obviously at fault here and responsible for this, not the city. The city has demonstrated that it is willing to pay whatever price is reasonable and justified in order to move ahead. The county, once they saw the city was willing to pay its share, but only its share, started on this tirade of trying to force this city into the same position Lebanon has put itself into, only we don’t have a 180 or 200 year old fire department we are trying to hold on to like Lebanon does. We are not looking to pay $3 million per year on nostalgia.

    If the county had adequate ambulance, the MI would not be a problem (Assuming that MI has something to do with ambulance) for fire suppression because their would be plenty of responders for both (At least I think there would be anyway).

    The two fires issue is real, however, if we had enough for two, then someone could say, “What if we had three fires?” It is very, very obvious you need more personnel, but you need more personnel and more stations to cover everyone and Mt. Juliet should not pay the price for that, but rather we as citizens of the county should pay the price for that extra coverage. So far, the county has made this about Mt. Juliet and Mt. Juliet has let them. With the information that has now surfaced, the city can easily make this about the county.

  10. Sonny Griffin

    Butch, you and R. P. are both correct.

    This whole thing is and always has been about MJ having a property tax set at zero. It is about liberals and conservatives. West Wilson County is a very conservative area while Lebanon eastward is very liberal.

    The County seems to think that the same level of fire protection should be furnished to all citizens of Wilson County no matter what the logistics are.

    Below is a link to a column chart of the population served by six of WEMA’s Stations which, I think, backs up my assertion.

    http://www.wilsonema.com/pubdocuments/population_covered.pdf

    As far as I know, each one of these stations is supplied with the same equipment and the same number of emt/firefighters.

    We can’t include Station 1 except outside the City of Lebanon since Lebanon has their own fire department so that leaves Stations 3 and 4 servicing three to seven times the population respectively
    as is serviced by Stations 2,5 and 6 respectively.

    Don’t get me wrong, I think the folks in Zones 3, 5 and 6 deserve the fire protection services that they are receiving.

    However, it is obvious that the people in Zones 3 and 4 deserve much, much more.

    This is definitely a County problem, not a city problem as Zone 4 covers mainly unincorporated areas outside MJ city limits. Also, Zone 3 covers about 9000 county residents.

    It is obvious that Zones 3 and 4 receive woefully inadequate fire protection compared with the rest of the County.

    The County needs to get its head out of its ass and realize that the citizens serviced by Zones 3 and 4 are all Wilson Countians and deserve the same level of fire protection as the rest of Wilson County.

  11. Butch Huber

    Sonny,

    I think those figures in the column chart you posted, which is great that you could get by the way, is from 2008. I could be wrong, but I believe that I am accurate. Station 3 probably covers more like 38,000 to 40,000 now, and station 4 probably covers close to 33,000 or more. Station 1 may, may, may cover 30,000.

    If you look at the coverage area of WEMA station 1, and you look at the population figures for Lebanon, you will see there are only a few thousand people covered by Station 1 who live outside of Lebanon.

    WEMA station 1, is primarly, WEMA Lebanon. It covers more people in Lebanon than Stations 3 and 4 cover in Mt. Juliet combined! Yet the responders in station 3 and 4 have to provide service to more than twice as many people as Station 1 provides service to. The county is so obviously disenfranchising the people of West Wilson, yet they have been able to carry the conversation so far as if Mt. Juliet is at fault.

  12. Chief O'Hallorhan

    Good catch there Butch because you are correct it has to be from 2008. Also remember in that chart is only shows 6 stations and they have added Station 8 since then which cut into even more of Station 1’s district. No telling what the population covered at Station 1 is now.

    Another interesting chart on the website is the ISO Rating. Note that MJ’s last site visit in 2004. Think back to 2004 and now the current MJ in 2011. Lot different place in population for one but back in 2004, Providence, The Paddocks, Rutland Place, Providence Commons, Triple Crowne, Williouby Station, Mt. Juliet High School, and all the new properties off Beckwith weren’t even built yet. All built since the last inspection with no additional equipment or staffing.

  13. Kevin Mack

    Sonny has arrived at the bottom line: “This whole thing is and always has been about MJ having a property tax set at zero. It is about liberals and conservatives. West Wilson County is a very conservative area while Lebanon eastward is very liberal.”

  14. Butch,
    MI = myocardial infarction=”the big one” heart attack.

  15. Sonny Griffin

    Chief, Butch, before I posted I added up the population served by Stations 1-6. This chart is from WEMA’s web site, by the way. I came up with a total population served by the six stations at 120,687.

    I agree that these figures do not include Stations 7 or 8.

    Please refer to the following link.

    http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/47/47189.html

    It can be seen that the 2010 census lists the population of Wilson County in 2010 at 113,993.

    The population for Mt. Juliet was 25,340 in 2010. This leaves over 9000 County residents served by Station 3.

    So what goes on? I don’t know. My objective was to show the disparity of fire protection services in the Zones served by WEMA.

  16. Butch Huber

    Yeah, Sonny, you are right, it doesn’t add up. I saw that before as well. How do you reckon anything that is coming out of the county? Station 3 covers a lot of people, regardless of the exact number, and many of them are in the unincorporated portions of the county, you are correct. My point was that the numbers under Station 3 are probably way low compared with present reality. Station 1 probably went down from the figure in your chart to today because of Station 8 opening. So, with 9 responders in Station 1 and only 4 in station 3, the citizen to responder ration in Mt. Juliet is probably enormously worse than anywhere in the county. The county has obviously been mistreating this city. Finally the city is standing up and doing something about it.

  17. Sonny Griffin

    Totally agree with you Butch.

  18. Butch Huber

    I find it interesting that the county still calls their budget for emergency services “Civil Defense”. Shouldn’t that be broken down into many different funds now that everything is supposedly split up into separate services? I mean, shouldn’t there be a hazardous material response fund, and an ambulance fund, and a fire suppression fund, and a rescue fund….? I mean, if we are going to play this game, shouldn’t we play it full on?

  19. That thing is useless, Butch. We have not been CD for 22 yrs. What you see a generic line item budget that will give those that don’t know better a warm fuzzy. Separate services: Fire, EMS, Rescue (which is actually motor vehicle extrication), Haz-Mat, Water Rescue, Technical Rope Rescue, and training for all of the above. These items show up as such on a separate budget that gets “referenced” during ema committee meetings and then tossed aside because the money ends up going for JJ’s pork and pet projects.
    RP

  20. Butch Huber

    R.P.

    Where does the county account for fire stations, fire apparatus, etc. in the budget? Have you ever seen that type of expense in the county budget? Sure, ambulance replacement is a separate fund, but what of purchasing land, building a building, buying fire trucks, etc?

  21. Sonny Griffin

    Damn good question, Butch.

    I can’t find those expenses either.

    Don’t think it comes out of property taxes somehow, do ya?

    I believe it comes from bonds, but I’m not sure.

    Biggest mess I ever saw.

    As R. P. has said many times: “FULL DISCLOSURE”

    The main question still remains: HOW IS WEMA FUNDED?

  22. Butch,
    Bear with me. I ‘m working to get that. What I can tell you is that not too long ago an employee was asked to help the finance director to get “caught up” and she was handling receipts and PO’s from as wasy back as 3 years. Some of the info was what I would consider sensitive…admin employees getting paid extra for side jobs and what not, but mostly deliquent bills yet to be paid. There were boxes of them that outdated. I do not know what the man does, but he comes in way after JJ and has a rep for nearly putting Sumner Co. in Chapter “poor house” and I know for a fact he was the catalyst for JJ laying hands on one of his employees in anger. This employee has since been paid off and is now gone. Financial Ful Disclosure ain’t the only Full Disclosure needed. Randall has his hands full defending John. I’ll tell you this straight up, if Randall dropped John you would see one problem solved (WEMA) and one problem well on the road to recovery(MJ).
    RP

  23. Butch Huber

    Isn’t this the place where it is in the best interests of the county to concede and acknowledge that they are illegally funding WEMA before someone ends up with misconduct charges against them? I mean, once you have been hit with the preponderance of evidence proving that you are in fact in the wrong, and when it comes to a point where you cannot win, shouldn’t you throw yourself on the mercy of the court?

    An investigation against the county can’t be good for them. They have manipulated numbers for way too long to get away with what they are trying to get away with. It is best for them to come to the table and simply agree to fire districts and fire taxes and to spend adequate facilities taxes on needs generated by growth in this city (ie…ems stations). They could ward off an investigation and the extreme embarrassment that will come with it if they just belly up to the table and talk turkey with us.

    I’m just saying.

  24. Nah, Butch, let’s let this play on out. After the “please vote for me, I have a plan, I’ll protect you better, we can work together, now I have your vote, I can’t do nothing for you, as a matter of fact, I’m gonna try and do less, the agreement is good for a year but we’re gonna quit protecting you now, you are gonna start paying for what you have been getting not anything more, your taxes do not pay it, it comes from some state ambiguous fund, hah hah you just tax your citizens and you don’t even know what for, the cost is $411,000 to you and actually $82,000 if you are the state comptroller, and last but CERTAINLY not least…put on yer big boy britches”. I believe for the sake of improving the attitude of the county mayor and his henchmen…not to mention the illimination of the director, his staff, and their complete incompetence. I’d like to see how this forensic ( denoting the application of scientific methods to the investigation of crime) audit turns out and turns up. I hope he looks like Mickey Spillaine’s Mike Hammer…hahahaha I just dated myself.

    RP

  25. Butch Huber

    R.P.

    I love your stuff. Funny. Down right funny!!

  26. Thank you. Pop always told me , “No matter have far down you are or how high the climb…You gotta laugh”. Have a great day.

    RP

  27. All kiddin’ aside…let’s make sure the MJ city council pushes for this audit. We have 329,000 reasons to demand this accounting ($411,000-$82,000=you guessed it!) That’s either a huge financial screwin’ or a huge financial screw up. We cannot allow that type of thieving or incompetence. One should be prosecuted, the other persecuted. Don’t get me wrong…I’m all for turning the other cheek, but from being told to put on my big boy britches to we’re pulling out to you ain’t gettin no more, etc. etc…I am all out of cheeks.

    RP

  28. Sonny Griffin

    I started reading Mike Hammer paper backs when I was in the service. Old Mike had the ultimate cure for assholes, that Model 1911 45 he carried in his shoulder holster. Loved it when he shot the bad guys “two inches below the belly button”.

    He was in love with Velda, his secretary, and so was I.

    The thing that attracted me to these novels was that you always knew justice would prevail, one way or another.

    You’re right R. P., you did date yourself but anybody that read and enjoyed Mike Hammer novels is ok in my book.

  29. Butch Huber

    I have, in the last day, discovered that the county spends 76.14% more money on emergency services in Lebanon than it spends on emergency services in Mt. Juliet (Using county numbers!).

    I have, in the last day, discovered that the county spends $88.85 per capita on emergency services in Lebanon, $84.98 per capita on emergency services in Watertown, $56.65 per capita in unincorporated Wilson County and just $55.81 on emergency services in Mt. Juliet!

    Mt. Juliet makes up 3.4% of all land area in this county yet produces between 20% and 25% of all revenues taken in by the county government, yet we are absolutely last on the list of expenditures by the county….”WHY”!!!?????

    Why does the county hate Mt. Juliet so? Why do they so enjoy ripping us off? What is it about us that causes them such disdain? Does our breath stink? Do our armpits smell bad? What did we do to them?

    We pour money into the county coffers like beer through a beer bong and yet they still can’t get enough! Why do they think it is okay to treat us this way? Why doesn’t our city commission stand up to them and hold them accountable? Why? WHY? WHY?!!!!!

    How many different ways can we show the county and the citizens of this county and the individual cities that this whipping boy in West Wilson County has been beaten enough?

    The county would have to spend almost another $800,000 per year in Mt. Juliet to begin to bring equity in this county. This figure doesn’t include capital expenditures on buildings, land, and equipment, that is just pure manpower spending! That means we should have four responders in station 3 in Mt. Juliet and four responders in station 9 in providence and the 4 responders in station 4 as well. That, my friends, brings equity in the county, not Mt. Juliet spending over a million more per year. If Lebanon would like, at any time they can dissolve their fire department and turn it over to the county.

    Folks, isn’t it time for fire districts? Really? How many ways do I have to prove to them that what they are doing is unfair and illegal before they finally cave? How much time do I and the others in this fight have to invest to get them to see the light on this issue? This is a complex and complicated issue to grasp, but come on, it isn’t rocket science!

  30. Butch Huber

    I think this is going to resonate, how about you?

  31. Sonny Griffin

    Butch, I am a little confused about fire districts.

    The following is from TCA 5-17-105. Fire tax districts.
    TENNESSEE CODE ANNOTATED
    © 2011 by The State of Tennessee
    All rights reserved

    *** CURRENT THROUGH THE 2010 REGULAR SESSION ***

    Title 5 Counties
    Chapter 17 County-wide Fire Departments

    Tenn. Code Ann. § 5-17-105 (2011)

    5-17-105. Fire tax districts.

    (c) In the case of county-wide fire districts as authorized by § 5-17-101, the fire tax district shall comprise the entire county outside of any and all incorporated municipalities within the county, but each and every such incorporated municipality within the county may elect to contract with the county for inclusion in such fire tax district as authorized by § 5-17-108.

    Isn’t this more or less what we have now since the 1995 County Resolution forming WEMA was based on § 5-17-101?

    Incorporated municipalities within Wilson County are Lebanon, Mt. Juliet and Watertown. They have a choice of furnishing their own fire protection services or they can contract for their fire protection services using an interlocal agreement.

    Watertown and Lebanon have chosen to provide their own fire protection. They owe nothing to the County for fire protection.

    Mt. Juliet has chosen to use an interlocal agreement to provide for its fire protection services. The agreement is nothing more than a legal contract between Mt. Juliet and the County. Mt. Juliet owes nothing for fire protection outside of this contract.

    The rest of the county consists of one big unincorporated area or “fire district” and should be taxed accordingly to provide its fire protection services.

    The problem that I see is that Mt. Juliet, Lebanon and Watertown have provided for their own fire protection services but they are paying the same County taxes that the unincorporated areas are paying.

  32. Butch Huber

    Well, there you have it. The last sentence is the important part. The county is saying that it is providing funding for the countywide fire department using state shared revenues. They can’t, but let’s suppose they could. The problem with what they are doing is they are providing millions of dollars worth services to the cities using unincorporated Wilson Count resident’s money. That necessarily means they are stealing from them and giving that money to the rest of us. That isn’t right. One the other hand, if they are using property taxes, they have to establish fire taxes and levy an actual fire tax. They aren’t doing that, so that means they are using our tax money to provide services to the rest of the county. That isn’t right, either.

    So you see, the county is in the wrong no matter which way this goes. But this gets even more confusing, Sonny. Read the rest of the fire tax laws and you will see that it says elsewhere that the county may establish one or more fire districts. How the hell can it be both ways? The cities can opt into the county fire district, or they can provide their own, however, I don’t see how they could be their own fire district. I think they screwed up the law when Rochelle started monkeying with it.

  33. Sonny Griffin

    Butch, the following is the way I see this whole issue.

    § 5-17-101(a) of the TCA states that: “The county legislative body or other governing body of any county is authorized to form a new agency to be known as the county-wide fire department for the purpose of providing fire protection services to all of the county.”

    It is important to note that the service provided by this new agency is fire protection only. The funding options talked about in § 5-17-101 is for fire protection service only.

    So, what about ambulance, rescue, etc?

    § 5-17-102 lists the powers and duties of the new agency. Among these powers and duties are:

    1. The authority to contract to provide all special service functions, such as arson investigation, inspection, and emergency ambulance and rescue services.

    2. The authority to provide and maintain an emergency ambulance, first aid and rescue service.

    According to the County Finance Director, all WEMA services other than fire protection services are funded by property taxes.

    According to the County’s own figures, the cost of fire protection service inside the city limits of Mt. Juliet for one year was $82,823.58 at $383.91 per call.

    Therefore, I suggest that the Mt. Juliet Commission present the County with an interlocal agreement for fire protection service based on $383.91 per call adjusted for inflation.

    At the end of the year, the number of fire calls in the city limits of Mt. Juliet would be multiplied times the cost per call.

    Building rental costs would be subtracted from this figure and the balance would be paid to the County for fire protection cost in the City of Mt. Juliet,

    What could be more fair than that?

    After all, we are using the County’s own figures.

  34. Butch Huber

    Sonny,
    The county would never go for it. They want to keep this charade up so that they can continue to take money from the city of Mt. Juliet and spend it elsewhere.

    Think if this issue.

    The county only has $3.3 million in state shared revenues as they call it to use to provide emergency services of any time, whether they apply that revenue to pay for ambulance or fire or rescue or some combination thereof. Beyond that $3.3 million they have to be dipping into property taxes, which are the only revenues available beyond their $3.3 million.

    Now, I disagree that the full $3.3 is available for these purposes, however, we will pretend for awhile that it is, after all, the county has been pretending for many years now, so I guess it is okay for us to pretend as well, Right?

    They say that it costs $1.8 million to pay for fire costs. That leaves about $1.5 million more to apply toward other costs. The county takes in about $2,000,000 in ambulance fees for service. They apply $250.000 of that $2,000,000 to the ambulance fund to purchase ambulances with. The remaining $1.75 million goes back into the general fund. If you add in the $1.75 million to the $1.5 million left over in state shared revenues it comes to a total of $3.25 million available to spend on all services not included in fire costs. That means that the county necessarily has to be using property taxes to make up the difference. Now, look at the difference in level of service in Lebanon compared to Mt. Juliet. Now tell me who is paying for whose service? It appears that Mt. Juliet is subsidizing Lebanon’s and Watertown’s fire service!

    If you calculate the disparity between collection of fees for service in Mt. Juliet compared to Lebanon, the County, and Watertown I think you would see that the city of Mt. Juliet is even further subsidizing Lebanon, Watertown, and the county.

    Now look at adequate facilities taxes. I think you would find that we are once again subsidizing Lebanon, the county, and watertown.

    Sonny, I think you are reading 5-17-101 and 5-17-102 incorrectly. I think if you read that the way that it is written you will see that fire protection services includes all of the services offered by WEMA. There is an attorney general’s opinion that says that the services offered by WEMA are all part of a Countywide Fire Department and that the county cannot circumvent funding those services in accordance with 5-17-101 through 5-17-108.

    The ball we have to keep our eyes on is adequate service throughout all of Wilson County. We need to turn this conversation from being a county mandate that Mt. Juliet increase its fire services and pay for it themselves to a mandate that the county legally and equitably conduct its business. They have woefully inadequate services throughout the county, not just in Mt. Juliet, and they need to address this issue. In other words, the county needs to put on its big boy britches and act like a grown up county that is an edge county to a metropolitan government. We aren’t out in the sticks somewhere, we butt up to what is a relatively fast growing major city. It is unacceptable that the county causes this county to lose opportunity because they are being so stubborn.

  35. Zones, guys, not cities. (see above) “not just in MJ” to replaced by “not just in zone 3”. BTW, remeber back when I stated that EMS was governed by TDOT. Their recommendation was that for every 10k people in a recognized border, in this case zone, the provider should have 1 ambulance. Now using that, how many people are in zone 3…that’s zone 3 created and recognized by the county. They should follow their governing body’s recommendation and supply 1 ambulance for every 10k people in zone 3 as well as the other zones. They do not service this city by recognizing the city limits, they service this city by creating and recognizing a zone…their zone, not our city limits. You want to make this their problem, use their criteria…IT WORKS. If we were to organize a push that was zone driven, NOT CITY OR MJ IN ANY WAY, we might just be able to help Ed, James, Art,Ted, and Mr. “could you please start over?” get an ambulance for next to nuttin’. Rally the citizens of this zone and have good representation for the unicorporated areas of this zone and “LIGHT BULB” (I love Dispecable Me) they might just have to do what is right to keep their county seat. If not, well, their vote could come back to bite ’em next election. Your thoughts?

  36. Sonny Griffin

    Butch,

    The following is the TCA definition of fire department:

    68-102-302. “Fire department” defined.

    As used in this part, unless the context otherwise requires, the term “fire department” means a department of a municipality, county, or political subdivision, or an organization, agency, or entity that offers its services, for or without pay, for the purpose of suppressing fires, performing rescue services, or for other emergency response purposes. Excluded from this definition are law enforcement agencies, emergency medical agencies licensed by the Tennessee emergency medical services board, and rescue squads that do not provide fire protection.

    So, we have a definition of fire department as used in county-wide “fire department”.

    The next definition, which I cannot find, is “fire protection services” as used in § 5-17-101. What are “fire protection services”? Is it fire suppression? Is it fire suppression services plus rescue associated with fire? It is clearly services associated with fire.

    It is clear to me that it is not ambulance service associated with medical emergencies such as heart attacks. It is not extrication from an automobile at the scene of an accident. It is not water rescue. It is not hazardous materials response. It is not disaster management.

    Nobody is arguing the fact that these extraneous services are paid for with property taxes. The County readily admits this and why not? There are no clear laws establishing funding for these services and frankly, I see no problem with funding them with property taxes.

    As far as the opinion of the Attorney General, I assume you are talking about the following opinion:

    http://www.tn.gov/attorneygeneral/op/2009/op/op107.pdf

    I believe his opinion reinforces my argument.

    As far as the County not accepting the offer I proposed, it is an offer they can’t refuse. You really think they want to be caught lying to the State Comptroller’s Office about the real cost of fire service?

  37. Sonny Griffin

    R. P.,

    I realize the importance of fire zones. Mt.Juliet is in fire zones 3 and 4.

    I want to be completely frank about what I am going to say. Since the County has seen fit to alienate the City of Mt, Juliet, why should I, as a citizen of Mt. Juliet give a damn about county citizens outside of the city limits of Mt. Juliet?

    Of course, I do care about their welfare. Obviously your County polycrats do not.

  38. Why? Because they have numbers. Beacause they have been and are currently enjoying the SAME piss poor level of protection that you and I are.
    Because they have numbers. Because, with the simple stroke of a pen, they too could be citizens of MJ. Beacause they have numbers. Because in the spirit of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”, at least we (MJ) have been recognized by the county…these folks in the unincorp. part have taken the same screwin’ without even gettin’ a kiss. Beacause they have numbers…and there is POWER in number. County leaders with Lebanon addresses want to make this a Leb vs Mj thing. These people in the unicorporated part are getting drawn into the fray by simple logistics. In my view, they have about 1 oz. more to be pissed about than we do. The county at least states a reason, albeit a poor one of we have a tax, you should too, for coming after MJ…they do not have any reason for adversely affecting the unincorp citizens. You are right. You SHOULD care about their welfare. I come out of the SAME station to help them as I do you. I haul ass to their door just as fast as I do to yours and I care about their health and well being as I do yours. I do not see a city limit sign and you should not either. BTW, did I mention there is power in numbers? We use these numbers to show that the county is difficient in this zone. The county, by some way is forced to improve protection in this zone, and voila, MJ gets improved protection. The polycrats are in for a rude awakening. Take care.

    RP

  39. Sonny Griffin

    You are right, R. P.. In your position as a fire fighter/emt and human being, there can be no boundaries.

    In my position as a human being, there can be no boundaries.

    There can be no doubt as to what the boundary is in the fire issue on the County level. It is the boundary between liberal and conservative philosophies. Unfortunately, the boundary has been thrown up around MJ.

    The exact same boundary is why no agreement has been made in Congress about the debt ceiling.

    It seems to me that nobody cares about the overall good of the people, just their own right/left agendas.

    I think the people are pretty well fed up with this bull shit.

  40. Butch Huber

    Sonny, I tried to respond to your post. I wrote a detailed response. Then, something went terribly wrong and I lost the post and had a hard time getting back to this site.

    No, I am not referencing the 2009 opinion, I am referencing a 1992 opinion 134 (u92-134). That opinion basically says that WEMA is essentially a countywide fire department and that the services provided by it are the services that are provided by a countywide fire department and that the county cannot circumvent the funding requirements of 5-17-101 through 5-17-108 by saying that they are funding those services under 58-2-101 through 124.

    Fire protection services, as defined by associative rules of logic, based on 5-17-102, include all of the services enumerated in 5-17-102 et seq.

    The county resolution established the county fire department pursuant to 5-17-101 for the purposes of taking on all of the powers and duties enumerated in 5-17-102. The ambulance, in absence of an resolution that segregates it under 7-61-101 through 104, for better or worse, is part of the countywide fire department.

    Sonny, the reason the county cannot pay for ambulance service using property taxes is because it cannot tax me for something it cannot provide to me without another governmental entity’s permission. Because the county needs an interlocal agreement under 7-61-101 through 104 before it can provide me with the service, the county has to use already shared revenues or situs based taxes, or both, to pay for that service in the unincorporated portion of the county and it must fund its operations inside the city through an interlocal agreement. The county doesn’t have an interlocal agreement for ambulance. The county must be paying for ambulance under 5-17-101, which means they don’t have enough state shared revenues to cover the costs of the countywide fire department, which means fire districts and fire taxes. That is such a game changer in the discourse of things in this county. It is a total game changer.

    The goal should be a comprehensive countywide service that provides services to all of wilson county through cooperative interlocal agreements that are mutually advantageous and that ensure adequate protection for all. However, the county has tipped its cards and showed its hand. We need to be wise as serpents and harmless as doves, unless they insist on dealing with us underhandedly. Then, fangs!

  41. Shawn Donovan

    Ok guys. After reading the comments of Butch, RP, and Sonny what are you suggesting that Mt. Juliet do for a solution to the fire protection and EMS issue because your comments are all “grey” on that one. I totally agree the funding at the county level needs to be looked at, but what do you want as the solution.

    Are you suggesting that we

    1) Continue to receive service from WEMA for Fire/EMS/Rescue/Hazmat with another interlocal agreement which the county said it wouldn’t sign (basically stay status quo)

    2) Continue to with “1” but have Mt. Juliet pay to offset the increased staffing, equipment, etc that we would need

    3) Mt. Juliet start its own fire department with WEMA continue to cover with EMS/Rescue/Hazmat in a mutual aid/automatic aid agreement

    4) Mt. Juliet start its own fire department with MJFD doing Fire/EMS/Rescue/Hazmat

    As you all have noted and rightfully so that this issue is countywide and borderless. Saying that, we are not seeing any stopping with regards to building in the county either and the sounds of nail guns and cement trucks are still heard throughout the day. Not to mention the traffic in south Mt. Juliet is just as heavy as ever. I know none of us are elected officials and don’t have seats at the voting table for any of my options, but I just wanted to know your opinion because I obviously have one as both a resident and a Firefighter or a “boot on the ground”.

  42. Sonny,
    No problemo. My humble apologies to you for the soapbox. You just cannot imagine how much this issue has so NOT been about MJ for me. The thing started with Mr. “Big Britches” firing off that the county would no longer cover the city and that whole city/zone thing. And with school starting, maybe he would like to sit in and audit some civics 101 courses so he does not look like such a pin head on the issue. My legal contacts tell me this has absolutely no basis for the county vs. city argument. Neither side has legal authority to force the other side to do a thing. Reich and the county commission are indeed WRONG in their approach. As for us, if we address this from a city asking for more protection for itself…odds are we will be seen as to cheap, lazy, and stupid to do for ourselves. The county will simply use the argument of our recent prosperity and the court will see it as cities like MJ have a FD, MJ should have an FD. They can’t enforce that, but with a court ruling as such, the water will be as muddied as ever. NOW, if we (MJ proper AND not) as Wilson County tax paying citizens of ZONE 3 using recommendations from TDOT and other cases on file that exist to support, file suit against the county for inadequate services for the citizens of this ZONE, then we got a shot. Using the info so far population, demographics, geographics, etc as well as the minutes of county and city meetings, the disparaging difference between the $411,000 and $82,000, the FULL DISCLOSURE from the forensic audit, as well as their own boundaries and the info Butch has on the legalities of funding and defining what is /is not a FD, we go a case and a half. If we, the inadequately protected tax paying citizens of Wilson County Zone 3 (from N Greenhill Rd to Bender’s Ferry) want to charge the county for with holding emergency services from us in an effort to settle a baseless score with the city of MJ,
    recklessly and negligently put our safety at risk, and misrepresented the use of OUR tax dollars….well, that’s sounds pretty good, huh?

  43. Shawn,
    as for me, I believe MJ will one day have its own FD. It is my hope that MJ will emulate the Nashville FD model with distinct suppression and ems rather than a WEMA model. I know it is not cost effective BUT IT IS EFFECTIVE. It forces an entity to have adequate staffing, no shortcuts…for instances, take the white truck for medical and the red truck for fire…or my favorite one of you take the ambulance and the other take the engine. By NFD, you have to have an adequate # of FF on the engine and medics on the bus.
    Now, that said, this cannot happen overnight, so, in the meantime, I would like to see the people of ZONE 3 unite and use this ZONE 3 border to their advantage and get the county to increase assests to ZONE 3 using existing funds wisely. Have all the other county citizens from the other county zones follow suit and whoomp there it is…better coverage for ALL citizens of this county with MJ proper having time to research and intelligently creating its own MJFD for the future. Some bull spit like that. Later tater.
    RP

  44. P.S..

    NO INTERLOCAL AGREEMENTS, EVER!!!
    The county is not to be trusted.
    RP

    Q: Why will a snake never bite a Wilson County Mayor or Commissioner?
    A: Professional courtesy.

  45. Butch Huber

    Shawn,

    I have a plan, and I fired off an email to Mike Jennings, Randall Hutto, Philip Craighead, and James Maness earlier this morning asking them if they would like to sit down with me and hear and see what I have to show them. As of yet, nobody has responded.

    I have a plan that addresses the county fire protection issue in its entirety. It resolves every facet of the issue as I understand them to exist and it is flexible enough and accommodating enough to allow for change as change becomes necessary. The plan I have provides, at least eventually, adequate fire protection and emergency medical services to all of Wilson County. I provides those services ethically, morally, and legally.

    The governments of this county would all come out winners and look great as a result of putting my plan into play.

    The city of Mt. Juliet ends up with its own fire department, which settles the issue that so many seem to have gotten stuck on. The county can become the rural service they long to be. Lebanon and Watertown get to keep their fire departments if they want, or they can turn them over to the county. We never have to suffer the political hostage taking that we are currently dealing with. We could very well end up with a zero property tax once again. And we become prepared for cataclysmic and catastrophic disasters, at least to the greatest degree possible to be prepared.

    Shawn, there is a way, but who will listen? It is time for them to recognize that the solution is right in front of them at this point and it is staring them right in the face. You know that I have studied this issue inside out, forwards and backwards, top to bottom and side to side. You know, and they know, that I know more about this issue than they know. Yet they don’t want to listen. They want to continue to move forward with plans that will only serve to land one or more of them in court, which will result in the deal being unwound by a judge, which puts us back to square one. My solution is lawsuit proof, because it is legal. My plan is one that can endure and withstand judicial scrutiny. They won’t listen. They never want to listen. I am not talking about “all” of them, just those who are so stubborn and bullheaded that they wouldn’t listen to a fresh idea if it could save their life (as proof, this could really save their life and they aren’t listening).

  46. Butch Huber

    R.P, Sonny, Shawn, Glen, et al,

    I think one conversation needs to end with recognition on the county’s part that it needs to change and that it is not legally operating WEMA. The beginning of the next conversation needs to begin,
    “Okay, now that we have recognized the need for substantive change, how to we reorganize in a way that is legal, ethical, moral, and professional, and in a way that everyone gets proper levels of service?”

  47. Shawn Donovan

    Seems to always be the problem Butch is trying to convince the one’s we put at the table to listen to us once they get there. I guess you can say they do and they don’t. I’m still a firm believer of using the process of trying to find someone who is located in each district to bring a larger group of “voices” then just one two or three of us. You could basically create a political action committee “Citizens for a safe Mt. Juliet” for instance that has representatives located in all the districts that could start working on their own elected representatives or commissioners. Like in my case I have Bradshaw and Brockman as my elected officals who been placed in their seats by the votes from my district. Now if they don’t want to do the right thing (DTRT) with regards to this matter its simple, you rally your district and get rid of them. Now it sounds easier by typing it, but when you have three things in your district like I have 1) Providence and 2) lots of registered voters and 3) a HOA with a big email list its a little easier to convince them to do what right in some cases. Saying that its obvious my City Commissioner hasn’t realized that point with regards to the fire protection issue but were working on it.

    I do like the Fire Tax District idea you have Butch. Lets dream for a little bit but what about possibly looking at breaking the county into 8 districts, like there are 8 stations in Wilson County. You could for instance have Fire District 1 be Station 1’s response district or Fire District 3 be Station 3’s response district and so on. Yeah I know it sounds easy to say that once again because were on a blog and not at a committee meeting.

  48. Butch,
    Agreed. Mayor Hutto needs to remove Jewell and replace him with someone with experience and education. John was put there by Dedman to babysit and quiet the calls for improvements. The next director will need to execute a plan to maximize the existing $7 million budget and cut the fat, pork, and pet projects. The money needs to be used for 2 purposes and 2 purposes only. Re-invest in the agency’s personnel. In broad strokes…use part of the money to increase first line personnel and use the other part to compensate existing personnel. Take it from RP, we need more than kids just out of school on the front line…and by we, I mean YOU. I have said it before…a new director with a new direction and YOU will see and improved WEMA presence and production.
    RP

  49. Butch Huber

    Shawn,

    I am not sure you can have 8 districts. There is question about whether the entire unincorporated portions of the county have to be one fire district or whether the county could break it down into multiple districts. It all depends on what part of the law you are reading. That part is all screwed up.

    I tried to begin to explain the solution I have on here, however, it is a very complex (albeit not complicated) solution that requires a lot of buy-in from everyone involved. Suffice to say, even as longwinded as I am, I do not want to post it all on this site. I would be glad and honored to meet with you and your brother and sister fire fighters to discuss the solution I have come up with. In fact, it would be good to have it “Fire proof” before I present it (If they ever give me a change to present it).

  50. Southsider

    The way I interpret it, the county can have as many fire districts as it wants. They should be placed in a way that maximizes response times and minimizes the cost per property taxpayer.

    Those ‘britches’ appear to be way too big for our County Commissioners to wear.

  51. Butch Huber

    Southsider, I agree with you that the county “Should be able” to have as many fire districts as it wants, but one section of the law says that the entire unincorporated portion of the county shall be one fire district. I am not sure why things are constructed this way, however, it appears that, under the countywide fire department model (Not sure what else there is), according to 5-17-105 (c), the entire county outside of any and all incorporated municipalities within the county, shall be one fire district. Again, the fire laws are ultimately confusing. What other interpretation can there be?

    5-17-105. Fire tax districts.

    (a) (1) The boundaries of fire tax districts shall be determined by the county legislative body or other governing body, and shall become fixed by resolution of the county legislative body or other governing body thirty (30) days or more after notice of the determination of the boundaries of a district has been given to the property owners of the district.

    (2) Such notice shall be given by mailing a description of the boundaries of the district to all of the property owners of record within the district, at their last known address.

    (b) The boundaries of any district may be altered at any time by means of the same procedure by which the district was created.

    (c) In the case of county-wide fire districts as authorized by § 5-17-101, the fire tax district shall comprise the entire county outside of any and all incorporated municipalities within the county, but each and every such incorporated municipality within the county may elect to contract with the county for inclusion in such fire tax district as authorized by § 5-17-108.

    (d) In those counties having eight (8) or more incorporated municipalities that levy a property tax and four (4) or more special school districts, the fire tax district shall comprise the entire county, including each and every incorporated municipality.

    HISTORY: Acts 1965, ch. 138, § 5; 1978, ch. 674, § 4; impl. am. Acts 1978, ch. 934, §§ 7, 36; T.C.A., § 5-1705; Acts 1996, ch. 836, § 1.

  52. Sometimes, “the law is an ass.”
    – Mr. Bumble, in Oliver Twist, Charles Dickens

  53. Butch Huber

    Publius,

    One of the best quotes on this site “Ever”!

  54. “Bad laws are the worst sort of tyranny”.
    Edmund Burke
    Election of 1780

  55. Butch Huber

    Sent out to Mayors Craighead, Jennings, Hutto, and Vice Mayor Maness this morning:
    Gentlemen,

    Yesterday I sent you an email inviting you to sit down with me to discuss a plan that will address and resolve our fire protection situation in this county. As of yet, not one of you has responded to that email. I thought I would point some things out to you this morning to hopefully prompt you to action.

    First of all, it appears that none of you have a plan of how to deal with fire protection if the county is forced under court order to restructure its operations and funding to make it comply with state law. Make no mistake, the county necessarily has to be violating the law in regard to how it operates and its funding mechanisms, so, if not my plan, what plan?

    Mayor Craighead,

    If the county were to be forced to discontinue providing your city with rescue, ambulance, hazardous material response, and other services that are provide to you at this time by WEMA, would your city be prepared to take over those duties? The county now spends in excess of $2.3 million on emergency services in your city. Your budget seems to be tight as all get out now, could your city afford to take over the services that the county now provides to you if they were forced to cease and desist? Could you afford to purchase the ambulance vehicles, hire the personnel, and pay for the necessary training?

    Mayor Jennings,

    The county really doesn’t do a whole lot for your city, however, it does state on a document that I have been provided by the county and that I have in my possession that the county spends over $125,000 per year in your fair city. With a population of only 1477 people, if the county were to be forced to discontinue service in your city, could your budget stand to lose $125,000 per year? You would have to come up with another $85 per man, woman, and child in your city in order to overcome the loss. That represents perhaps as much as $300 per family per year in additional costs. This doesn’t even account for the upfront costs to your city to equip your city to cover services (ambulance) now covered by the county. Do you even have an action plan in place in case of such an eventuality? I am guessing you don’t.

    Lebanon and Watertown seem to be sitting in the wings on this waiting to see the outcome. So far, everyone seems to be operating from a paradigm that fire is the only thing that the county does not have to or is not allowed to provide to the municipalities in this county. This paradigm seems to stem from the theory that, because Lebanon and Watertown are cities, and because they provide their own fire suppression, and because Mt. Juliet is also a city, it must therefore provide its own fire suppression. What seems to be commonly happening is that people are using inductive reasoning to conclude that “Cities provide fire suppression”. In my total quality leadership training in the military they explained to us the effect of a paradigm. The example was a woman who, before she baked a ham, cut off the tip of the ham. Her husband, having never witnessed anyone ever doing this asked her why she did it. She replied, “because my mom did it”. So he went to the mother and asked her why she cut off the tip of the ham and she said, “I have always done that because that’s what my mother always did.” So, he went to the grandmother and asked her, to which she replied, “I had a small roaster and needed to cut the tip off so the ham would fit in the pan”. The moral of the story is that, just because you see something being done a certain way, it does not mean that is the best or most appropriate way. We don’t have to model our emergency services plan based on what Lebanon or Watertown do, we can come up with a better and more appropriate way to address emergency services in this county. In fact, I have a plan that would allow and enable Lebanon and Watertown to do practically anything they want to do and that would allow the rest of the county to proceed on toward a comprehensive and robust emergency services organization.

    Mayors Craighead and Jennings,

    What do you do with the fact that the county is spending more than thirty dollars more per person in your cities than it is spending in Mt. Juliet or in the rest of Wilson County? The County spends, on average, about $55 per person in all of the rest of the county outside your cities, yet it spends about $85 per person in Watertown and about $89 per person in Lebanon. Do you think that this might cause a bit of a stir in the rest of the county once it resonates across the county? The county is claiming that it pays for fire service using state shared revenues. The argument now becomes, “What is included in ‘fire service?'” If rescue, water rescue, hazardous material response, special teams, and ambulance are all part of what is called “Fire protection services”, then the county has some explaining to do with regard to how it is taking money that belongs to those who live in the unincorporated portions of the county and is spending that money on the incorporated portions of the county. Now, we know that the county can’t really pay for fire protection services using only state shared revenues, which means that they have to establish fire districts. So what do you do then? Do you have a plan? Are you ready for that transition? The county can’t have it both ways, they can’t be using state shared revenues and at the same time use property taxes to pay for fire protection services. That is the proverbial having your cake and eating it, too. It just doesn’t work that way and there is no way that the county can stand up under judicial scrutiny on this. One way or another, they have to discontinue providing the cities with fire protection services free of charge. Now, that does not mean that you aren’t paying for your service, and it doesn’t mean we aren’t paying for our services, however, under the shell game that the county is playing financially, it gives the appearance that the cities are in fact getting their emergency services protection free of charge to them, including Lebanon and Watertown. What will you do when the covers are pulled back on you? Will you allow the county to continue to charge you for service and not provide it? That is what many seem to want to see happen to Mt. Juliet. They want us to look the other way and ignore the blatant fact that we are paying for our services and they want us to just go and spend millions of dollars of taxpayer money to ensure that we fit within their paradigm of how things are done by establishing our own fire department. So, when we push back, and when we take the county to court, and the county loses, which it will, and it has to restructure how it is providing emergency services, will you be prepared?

    Mayor Jennings, as county attorney, you should be aware that the county has no resolution that authorizes it to establish a countywide ambulance service or a countywide hazardous material response service, or a countywide rescue service. You know that, don’t you? I am sure you do. I am also sure that you realize that, in the event that the county did have a resolution to operate its ambulance service outside of the countywide fire department, the only statute in the law under which it could form such a countywide ambulance service is under T.C.A. 7-61-101 through 7-61-104, right? However, if you examine those statutes you will discover that the county cannot operate those services inside a municipal governmental boundary without an interlocal agreement. You do know that there are no such agreements, don’t you? That necessarily means that the county is illegally providing ambulance services unless it is operating the ambulance service inside of the authorization of T.C.A. 5-17-102. Those are the only two provisions in the law that authorize the county to have an ambulance service. I know that you are aware of Tennessee State Attorney’s Opinion u92-134, which states that the county cannot provide such services as routine and ordinary emergency services under T.C.A. 58-2-101 through 58-2-124. I know you know about his opinion because you reference it in a memo you authored. So, if you can’t operate emergency services under 58-2-101 through 124, and you don’t operate under 5-17-101 through 5-17-108 (except for fire suppression itself), and you don’t have a county resolution that authorizes the formation of a countywide ambulance service or a countywide hazmat service, or a countywide rescue service, then under what authorization does the county provide those services and under what statute? Fact is, Mr. Jennings, you and I both know that the only legal construction that allows for the operation of those services is the countywide fire department, which means that all the costs of such service are attributable and attributed to the countywide fire department. That in turn means that the costs of the countwide fire department then becomes the entire expenditure of the civil defense fund. In addition to the costs that are covered using that civil defense fund, you and I also know that the purchase of any equipment, the payment of any debt for the development of fire stations and purchase of equipment is also included in the costs of the countywide fire department, don’t we? That in turn means that the county cannot possibly cover the costs of the countywide fire department using only state shared revenue. That in turn means that the county is obligated, if it is to continue operating a countywide fire department, to establish fire districts and levy a fire tax. You do realize all of that, don’t you, Mr. Jennings? You recognize that u92-134 clearly states that WEMA is essentially a countywide fire department and that the county cannot circumvent the funding requirements of 5-17-101 by claiming that it is operating those services pursuant to 58-2-101 through 58-2-124. You do know that, don’t you Mr. Jennings? Remember, you did reference that opinion. In fact, it was from your memo that I discovered that opinion, Mr. Jennings, so I know that you have seen that opinion.

    Mayors Craighead and Jennings, the winds of change are blowing in Wilson County, are you ready for the coming change? What will happen if you continue to ignore the fact that you are involved in this discourse and its outcome whether you want to be involved or not? What if we are right, and what if we press for that change, what will that do to you and your cities? What impact will it have on your citizens and on your cities? Remember, this change doesn’t have to be brought about by Mt. Juliet, any citizen in this county can file a lawsuit and force this change upon you at anytime, so what if someone were to file suit against the county and force this change, what would you do? How would you respond to the inevitable changes that would come with such a court order? If you notice, I have included the two largest new organizations in the county in this email. You won’t be able to say that you were not made aware and that this caught you off-guard, because you have been informed. So, if you are standing there without a plan of action, and you are left high and dry by a court order, what will you say? How will you justify noting engaging in this issue when you had the chance?

    Mayor Hutto,

    You know that the county is wrong. You know that what the county is doing is playing a financial shell game to give the appearance that it is doing things legally and fairly. You know this, yet you work to make it appear that everything is just fine and that Mt. Juliet is the one that is in the wrong. I can prove to you six ways to sunday that the county is in the wrong, yet you have your mind set on the notion that the county is right and that Mt. Juliet is wrong. You continue to allow the county to spend $89 per person on emergency services in Lebanon and nearly the same in Watertown and yet you only provide Mt. Juliet and the unincorporated portions of the county with $55 worth of service per person. Why? Okay, let’s take Mt. Juliet out of the issue for a second. Mayor Hutto, why in heaven’s name would you spend $88 per person on emergency services inside of Lebanon and only $55 per person inside of the unincorporated portion of the county? How can you defend that action? Are the citizens of Lebanon more precious and special to the county than those who live in the unincorporated portions of the county? Remember, I am using figures that you provided to me in these calculations. You provided information to the comptroller using those figures, so they must be accurate and true, right? What is is about the people who live in Lebanon and Watertown that makes them valuable enough to spend $88 per person on them while the rest of us peons only get $55 per person? Please answer so that we may become more like Watertown and Lebanon and thereby become deserving of receiving our $88 per person as well.

    Mayor Hutto,

    Are you ready for the change that will occur if we force the county into fire districts? How will you address coverage for those who live just outside of the geographic limits of the municipalities? What plan do you have for this transition? How will you provide service to the areas of unincorporated wilson county that lay just outside of Mt. Juliet, Watertown, and Lebanon if you have to make such a transition? Are you really ready for the battle over adequate facilities taxes? You mention that you have paperwork to show where the money is spent, however, the county’s budget clearly shows that for at least the past three or four years the county hasn’t spent much of anything on capital projects using that money, which is where the resolution that authorizes the county to charge that fee directs that money to be deposited. Instead, you are using that money and amassing a fund inside the debt service fund with that money. What will you do if your right to charge that fee is challenged in court? What if the court determined that you have been illegally using that money for purposes beyond what the county is authorized to use those funds for and that the county has to pay that money back? What if the citizens who have had that money taken from them were to sue in a class action? What would the county do? How would you respond?

    Vice Mayor Maness,

    As the point person for this city, are you fully informed of the rights of the city and the options that it has? Do you understand this issue to a working level? Can you recite statutes and opinions? Can you rattle off statistics? Can you champion our cause? Do you know what is legal and what isn’t? We know that this city isn’t prepared for radical change in how emergency services are provided.

    Each of you, as leaders of your respective governments, have an obligation, a duty, a responsibility to ensure that what is being done by government is legal, fair and equitable. More importantly, you have to ensure that you protect and serve your constituency. The number one responsibility of government is to protect us from harm and danger. By acting, or not acting in some cases, are you doing your sworn duty? Are you fulfilling the duties of your office? Mr. Jennings, you are obligated by professional standards to advise the county as to its legal obligations and its rights. I believe you know I am right on this issue, and I challenge you to prove me wrong if you claim otherwise. Perhaps you, as an attorney, are aware of some things which I am not aware. Perhaps you are knowledgeable of certain statutes or resolutions or executive orders that I have not discovered. If you are, please present your argument. If you cannot overcome my arguments, then you must agree that I am right. If I am correct, then the county has to undergo some radical transitions to bring the county into compliance with the law. Those radical changes will reverberate and resonate in this county and will likely cause more strife, bitterness, enmity, and anger rather than serve to salve our wounds and close the gaps that divide us as a county. Those radical changes that will occur when this is brought to a head legally will divide us even more. In fact, it will cause such turmoil in this county it may very well retard growth for many years as a result. The county will be in a state of flux over such actions for quite some time. Why go there?

    I have a plan that can meet the need, address the concerns, and provide us with better protection and more efficient service than we currently have. Why ignore me? Ignoring me will ultimately land you in a court battle. I don’t necessarily have to be the one to sue, in fact, I don’t want to sue. The last place in the world I want to be is in a courtroom suing someone. I don’t want to cause harm or hatred or bitterness. I just want my government to function within the confines of the law and I want it to operate the way that it was designed to operate. Is that too much to ask?

    What would it hurt you to take some time out to address this issue head on and work to discover a way that we can all get what we want, or most of what we want, and through that effort save taxpayers dollars that could be going to other worthwhile functions?

    Wouldn’t it be better that we worked together than to work against each other?

    What if you ignore me, and then act, and then you discover that that pesky Butch Huber had the better answer all along? Do you think I will be quiet about it? Do you think that I will be silent as you put into play a plan that doesn’t resolve the issues and that is more costly than is necessary? You should all know me better by now.

    Mayor Hutto, when Lebanon is spending $3 million per year, and yet you still provide them with $89 worth of emergency services per person, do you think that is a good plan or a bad plan? Do you not see the need for change? Really? Can you guys not see that that model is broken? Let me help you with that. Lebanon and the County spend a combined total of around $204 per person inside the city limits of Lebanon while in Mt. Juliet we are afforded just $55 per person. Lebanon has nearly four times the expenditure, but do they really address the need four times better? Look at the equipment that exists in that city, how many active ambulances are there? Two. How Many ambulances serve Mt. Juliet? Two. Look at rescue there and rescue in Mt. Juliet. See much difference? The only area that has radically more service in Lebanon than in Mt. Juliet is Fire suppression. Fire suppression countywide accounts for just 4 % to 6% of all calls for service, yet the city of Lebanon is spending more than $3 million dollars per year on that one service! They spend more than half as much money as the actual costs the county incurs to provide all emergency services countywide on just fire suppression inside of Lebanon. Don’t you see that as throwing money down a rabbit hole when the county could provide that service much more efficiently? Why, oh why, would we want to follow that example?

    There is a better way, and I am offering to show you the way, but will you listen?

    Butch Huber

  56. “Whoomp”! (There it is)
    Tag Team 1993

    WOW! I bet the conference call is a hum dinger. Probably even invited JJ the Garbage Man…odds are it’s very quiet on his end, shrugging the shoulders makes no sound.

    RP

  57. Sonny Griffin

    Butch, thank you for referring me to AG Opinion # U92-134. I had not seen it before.

    I tried to find a copy on the AG website but it was too old. So, I requested a copy and it was promptly sent.

    I read it and noticed that it was requested by the “Honorable Robert Rochelle, State Senator”.

    This request was all about scheming to find another way to fund county fire services other than fire tax districts. At the time of this request, fire tax districts was the only method of funding available, so this request was used to test the law.

    This opinion states that: “the current method of funding the provision of fire protection in Wilson County is not statutorily authorized.”

    This is why Rochelle sponsored an amendment to TCA 5-17-101. The amendment added the following wording.

    (2) As an alternative to fire tax districts, the county legislative body is hereby authorized to allocate revenue from the general fund of the county to fund fire protection services to be provided to the unincorporated portions of the county. Any such revenues allocated for fire protection services shall be generated by situs-based taxes collected in unincorporated areas of the county or shall originate from other revenue sources that have already been shared with municipalities;

    Why is the County so dead set against fire tax districts? Because it is harder to subsidize rural fire protection services using urban tax money with fire tax districts.

    Concerning “fire protection services”, you said

    “I am referencing a 1992 opinion 134 (u92-134). That opinion basically says that WEMA is essentially a countywide fire department and that the services provided by it are the services that are provided by a countywide fire department and that the county cannot circumvent the funding requirements of 5-17-101 through 5-17-108 by saying that they are funding those services under 58-2-101 through 124.

    Fire protection services, as defined by associative rules of logic, based on 5-17-102, include all of the services enumerated in 5-17-102 et seq.”

    One of the primary laws of logic is identity. X=X

    That is why I can’t logically say that fire suppression service and emergency medical service are the same service. In this case X=Y which defies the law of non-contradiction.

    We are not the only ones that have a little trouble figuring out whether fire services are all inclusive or not. See the link below.

    http://www.tn.gov/attorneygeneral/op/2009/op/op107.pdf

    Note the last paragraph.

    “The request indicates that the planned emergency services board would provide emergency medical services in addition to fire service. It can be argued that the county fire service tax under Tenn. Code Ann. § 5-17-105(c) could be used to support the board’s provision of fire services, but not to support other services.”

    In other words it’s gonna take a court to figure that out.

    You say also that: “the reason the county cannot pay for ambulance service using property taxes is because it cannot tax me for something it cannot provide to me without another governmental entity’s permission. Because the county needs an interlocal agreement under 7-61-101 through 104 before it can provide me with the service, the county has to use already shared revenues or situs based taxes, or both, to pay for that service in the unincorporated portion of the county and it must fund its operations inside the city through an interlocal agreement.”

    TCA 7-61-104 states that:

    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.

    It says nothing about an interlocal agreement, just approval.

    Approval, in this case seems to be implied. The Commission lets WEMA use a building, owned by MJ, for $1.00/ year. WEMA operates an ambulance service out of it. Therefore, the Commission must approve.

    Has anyone looked at TCA 5-16-101 etseq for a solution. This is an entirely different way to set up, operate and fund emergency services in the county.

  58. Butch Huber

    Crickets.

  59. Butch Huber

    This email was sent out this morning to Mayors Hutto, Jennings, and Craighead and to Vice Mayor Maness. It would seem that they would want to have a plan that addresses all of the issues, however, it appears they don’t. Next up I will attempt to show who pays what in terms of taxes. When you match up who gets what and who pays what, I think you will end up seeing that Watertown actually gets back much more service in relation to what they pay in than anyone, but I could be wrong. On a percentage basis, I think Lebanon and Mt. Juliet are going to be close. It may very well turn out that the unincorporated portion of Wilson County gets back the lowest percentage of service in comparison to what they pay in. If that turns out to be the case, then there really is something rotten going on because the county says that it uses their money to provide all of the cities with services. Hmmmm….I wonder how that will turn out. Anyway, enjoy.

    To all:

    I got to thinking to myself, I said, “Self, why would these four men, who are the leaders of their communities, the leaders of their governments, the sworn representatives of the people, not respond to me when I offer to present to them a solution that would resolve the entire problem that we have in this country regarding emergency services. When I show them the tremendous disparity that exists in the provision of services in this county, why would they not sit up, take notice, and want to do something about it. When I am telling them that they can avoid costly and embarrassing legal entanglements and end up with services that are much better than what we already have in this county and under which everyone ends up with appropriate and adequate service, and under which the political cauldron of turmoil soup can be kicked over and never refilled in this county, why would they just ignore me? They know I know what I am talking about. They know that I have studied this problem upside down, inside out, frontwards and backwards, top to bottom. So, why would they just ignore me? Then it hit me. Perhaps they think I may be wrong.” So, I decided to present to you the spreadsheet that was presented to me by Mayor Hutto. Now, I want you to understand, that $1,794,136.51 figure at the bottom of that sheet represents what the county is reporting to the comptroller as the cost of fire in all of Wilson County. At least, from what I understand according to what I heard from the Mayor, this is the figure the comptroller will receive or has received. Perhaps I have missed something here, but that is my understanding. If I am correct, then this spreadsheet is official. This spreadsheet is what was presented to me by the Mayor in response to my official request for public information as the breakdown of costs of WEMA. So let’s get to work on these figures, shall we?

    Let’s start with the unincorporated portion of the county and determine what is spent there.

    Unincorporated Wilson County

    Ambulance $2,562,302.54
    Fire $243,425.09
    Rescue $704,562.59
    Public Assistance $39,003.22
    Total $3,549,293.44

    Okay, there you have it. The County spends a total of $3,549,293.44 on emergency services that are provided to the unincorporated areas of Wilson County. Now, I would not have calculated the figures the way the county calculated them. They took the total time spent on all of the calls for service in each category, then factored those hours spent in response against the total cost of WEMA. These figures do not include cost of equipment, equipment replacement, land, buildings, etc. However, this is the figure that was, I believe, submitted to the comptroller as the official numbers of the county, so they must be correct, right? Well, they aren’t correct, but they are official.

    Now let’s pull back the covers and look at what is happening in Lebanon. Before I show you these numbers, keep in mind, Lebanon has its own fire department. Isn’t that what this mess is all about? Aren’t we having this discussion because Lebanon chose to keep their fire department and as a result everyone outside of Mt. Juliet, and many inside this city, are now locked in a paradigm that cities providing their own fire suppression is the “ONLY” solution? Remember when you review these numbers, Lebanon spends over $3,000,000 of its taxpayer’s money on the Lebanon Fire Department in addition to what the county provides to them. The only thing, according to WEMA Director John Jewel (I asked him twice) that Lebanon provides to itself is “Fire Suppression”. In case you don’t know, the term “Fire Suppression” means “Putting out fires”. The term “Fire Suppression” doesn’t include rescue, water rescue, emergency management, hazardous material response, ambulance, etc… It merely means, “putting out fires”.

    Now for the numbers. Drumroll please!

    Lebanon
    Ambulance $1,858,937.38
    Fire $3,674.55
    Rescue $430,881.89
    Public Assistance $33,537.11
    Total $2,327,030.93

    Isn’t that interesting! All this fuss about how Mt. Juliet needs to put on its big boy britches and act like a grown up city, yet the county is spending $2,327,030.93 on emergency services in Lebanon! Really?! Oh, I get it, you just want to talk about the “Fire suppression issue”. The county and others want this discussion to be just about fire suppression, and not about the expenditure on other emergency services in Wilson County. The county says that it has a countywide ambulance service and that it only provides “Fire suppression, rescue, and public assistance, through the Countywide Fire Department”, oh, wait, they also say that they only provide “Fire suppression” through the Countywide Fire Department. Getting numbers from the county regarding what is and isn’t included in the countywide fire department always seems to be dependent upon why they are being asked to answer the question. Regardless, there you have it. The county spends $2,327,030.93 on emergency services in Lebanon. Add to that the three million that the city of Lebanon spends on Fire Suppression, and it comes to a total of $5,327,030.93. Here is a little tidbit. The county collects about $2,000,000 in ambulance fees countywide. Subtract that $2,000,000 in ambulance fees from the $7,322,961 that the county reports to the comptroller that it spends through WEMA on Emergency Services countywide, and it comes to a total actual cost for services of $5,322,961. Isn’t it interesting that more money is expended in the City of Lebanon on emergency services, in terms of actual costs, than is spent on the entire county by WEMA or the Countywide Fire Department? Now, mind you, while all this spending is going on, there is more fire protection apparatus and personnel working for WEMA in Station 1 in Lebanon than exists in Stations 3 and 4 combined. I tell you that because I don’t want you to think that the county doesn’t provide Lebanon with fire service, Lebanon just doesn’t use the Countywide Fire Department for Fire Suppression. In otherwords, if Lebanon were to shut down their fire department today, and if WEMA didn’t change its allocation of vehicles or personnel, Lebanon would still have more fire suppression capability from WEMA or the Countywide Fire Department in a coverage area that encompasses about 30,000 people than exists in the combined coverage areas of Stations 3 and 4 combined, which is a coverage area of perhaps 65,000 to 70,000 people! Please stop telling me that Lebanon doesn’t have fire coverage from WEMA, and start saying that Wilson County provides Lebanon with fire suppression, however, they decide to spend $3,000,000 per year to have their own fire suppression department instead. So, what does their $3,000,000 purchase? I guess it gives them a sense of security, however, it probably doesn’t give them much else. The percentage of calls for fire service only amount to about 6% of all calls for service to WEMA. Unless Lebanon has some extreme number of fires, it would appear that the $3,000,000 they spend every year would be better spent on something else.

    Now, let’s look at that little 20 square mile city who hasn’t pulled up its big boy britches yet and see what is going on there.

    Mt. Juliet
    Ambulance $983,416.90
    Fire $82,823.58
    Rescue $243,425.09
    Public Assistance $11,462.40
    Total $1,321,127.97

    Wow, we are really eating up the county budget down here in Mt. Juliet. The county is spending a fortune on Mt. Juliet. I guess we are breaking the county piggy bank with the tremendous burden we are putting on the county. County Mayor Hutto came down here and said, “The County is spending all it can spend on Mt. Juliet. If you want enhanced fire service you are going to have to pay for it yourself”. (Or something to that effect anyway.) Wait, let’s go back up and look at Lebanon for a second. Exactly how much does the county spend on Emergency Services in Lebanon? The County Spends $2,327,030.93 on Lebanon, and only $1,321,127.97 in Mt. Juliet. Exactly “why” can’t the county spend more on Mt. Juliet than it spends on Lebanon? While you are mulling that question over in your pretty little heads, remember, Mt. Juliet has invested a million dollars plus into services in this city. The city continues to provide the county with a station that service all of zone 3 and not just inside this city. From what I understand, Lebanon does exactly squat for the county. We provide volunteers that have been outfitted by the city at city taxpayer costs. What does Lebanon provide? Now, let’s get back to the question. Why is the county saying that it is doing all it can for Mt. Juliet and yet they are spending over a million dollars more on Lebanon, a city with its own fire department, a city that, because they provide their own fire suppression, created this whole conversation in the first place? We will get back to this. We have one more set of figures to develop before we even begin to get into the relevant facts. We have to take a look at Watertown before we move on.

    Watertown
    Ambulance $124,175.96
    Fire $996.33
    Rescue $0.00
    Public Assistance $347.35
    Total $125,519.64

    The county spends $125,519.64 on Watertown. Now, in certain circles, you will hear that them saying, “The county doesn’t do anything for Watertown”. Wait a second. $125,519.64 spent in 1.25 square miles isn’t “nothing”. The County is spending $100,000 per square mile in Watertown! That is a lot of money per square mile. Remember, these figures don’t count the sweetheart deal the county made with Watertown when it built their shinny new fire department/police/what-ever-else building for them. Yeah, yeah, yeah, the story is that the county is only paying for half and the City of Watertown is paying for the other half through a long-term interest free loan. Yada, yada, yada. We will believe it when we see it.

    So let’s look at these numbers a couple ways.

    Let’s look at them on a per capita basis, shall we?

    If you would kindly go to the County Website and read the first page where it lists the information from the latest Census. While you are there, please pay particular attention to the population numbers and the square miles number.

    Population
    Wilson County 113,993.00
    Lebanon 26,190.00
    Mt. Juliet 23,671.00
    Watertown 1,477.00
    Unincorporated Wilson County 62,655.00

    Square miles
    County 583.27
    Lebanon 38
    Mt. Juliet 20
    Watertown 1.25
    Unincorporated Wilson County 524.02

    Folks, this is where the numbers get really interesting.

    Let’s look first at the per capita expenditures on emergency services inside each of the entities, shall we?

    Per capita Costs
    County 64.24044459
    Lebanon $88.85
    Mt. Juliet 55.81208948
    Watertown 84.98283006
    Unincorporated Wilson County 56.64820685

    Now do you believe me? If you still don’t believe me, go figure the numbers yourselves. If you use the numbers provided by the county, you will arrive at the same figures. Notice who gets the very least coverage? Mt. Juliet! You got it, you won! Mt. Juliet doesn’t even get the average of the entire county combined, yet Lebanon gets $88.85 per person and Watertown gets $84.98! Wow, we must be scum down here in Mt. Juliet. The County found a way to come up with over a million dollars for Watertown’s new fire station/police station/what-ever-else building, yet they can’t seem to find anymore money to spend in Mt. Juliet. Isn’t that interesting?

    Okay, now I guess you want to look at “Square miles”. Why you would want to go there is beyond me, because it actually makes matters worse for the county and for those who want to beat up Mt. Juliet, but because you asked, let’s look at that set of figures, shall we?

    Per Square Mile
    County 12,555.01
    Lebanon 61,237.66
    Mt. Juliet 66,056.40
    Watertown 100,415.71
    Unincorporated Wilson County $6,773.20

    Now, which way do you want to go with those figures? Do you want to say that Mt. Juliet is getting more money spent on it than Lebanon is having spent on it based on square miles? Okay, I will give you that. Now, let’s look at the disparity that exists in the comparison of Mt. Juliet to Lebanon and then let’s look at Watertown. Oh, before you go there, though, I want to squash a premise that you might have in any position that you may have taken that the county does for Watertown because Watertown takes care of areas outside of Watertown. The figures stated here are what the county says that it spends on service “Inside” of each of the entities. So, if you were going to use that argument you are going to need another argument. It appears that the county spends about $5,000 more per square mile in Mt. Juliet than it spends per square mile in Lebanon. Okay, so what. The County is spending nearly $40,000 more on Watertown per square mile than it spends in Lebanon. Do you hear anyone up in arms about what the county spends on Watertown? No. The only thing you hear is how Mt. Juliet needs to put its big boy britches and act like a real city. Watertown quietly goes about its business and isn’t noticed. Oh, by the way, did I mention that the county just gave them a brand new shinny new fire station/police station/what-ever-else you want to do in it building?

    Let’s go back for just a second. The county says that it is paying for the countywide fire department using already state shared revenues. That means that the money that pays for the countywide fire department belongs to those who live in the unincorporated areas of the county, right? Say “yes”. Nod your heads up and down now. Please look at the amount of money spent per square mile in the unincorporated areas of the county. What does that number say? $6,773.20, Right? Now, how much does the county spend in Watertown? $100,415.71, right? Do you really want to have this debate over square mile expenditures? Really? Please big brown bear, don’t throw me in that briar patch. Okay, so let’s look at what the county spends in the entire county per square mile, including cities and rural. Uh oh. oops. Don’t look behind that curtain, there isn’t anything to see there.

    Now where do you want to go? You see, my numbers are correct. The county is so abusing this city it is criminal. The county takes all of the adequate facilities taxes collected from this city and pays for schools with it. Those schools that are being paid for were built before any adequate facilities taxes were collected last year and the year before and the year before. In fact, it is possible that every school in this area was built before any real money was ever collected in adequate facilities taxes. The county uses that money in contravention to the authorization that gave them the right to charge those fees. Do you want to look there?

    Oh, I know where we can take a look. Who is the Mayor of Watertown? Mike Jennings. Who is the County Attorney? Mike Jennings. What city gets the most money spent on it per per square mile? Watertown. What city almost has the highest per capita county spending in it? Watertown. Hmmm. No,there isn’t anything to think about there.

    Oh, I know, we can take a look at who is fire chief and where? Okay, let’s look at that. Who is the Director of WEMA? John Jewel. Who is the fire chief of Watertown volunteer? John Jewel. No, nothing to look at there.

    I guess you guys are right, there really isn’t anything for those of us to do in Mt. Juliet except to roll over and show our soft underbelly and just submit to your desires and let you have your way with us. We have no reason to gripe. We have nothing to talk about. We have no case against the county. We should just go about our way and pay whatever fees or costs you want us to pay and just submit.

    Dang, and I thought that I was on to something. All this time invested in trying to uncover information that would prove that I was right in my belief that we were getting shafted, just to find out that all is well in Denmark. What a shame.

    Now, if by any chance, any remote chance, you guys would like to sit down with me to discuss ways that we can optimize our investment into emergency services and come up with a plan under which you can protect all of the citizens of this county I would be glad to sit down with you and discuss that option.

    Oh, and by the way, this won’t be the last email, this email just sets up the next email. The next email will have some really incriminating information contained within it. Until tomorrow, Gentlemen. Have a nice day.

    Butch Huber

  60. Another conference call…another long silence made by the shrugging of shoulders. Nice work Butch. FULL DISCLOSURE. Let that be a warning to you wanna be politicians with self serving ambitions. Ed, James, Art, Ted, Mr. Catch-up…you need to move full steam ahead with the gusto of a hound dog on this forensic audit. If you like the results of the call for full disclosure, have this for dessert…investigate the WEMA budget of $7,167,360.00 and see what that ain’t being used for. Money is being wasted on a number of line items & pet projects that could be used for additional “boots on the ground” as the County Mayor has become fond of saying. This budget activity parallels the mismanaged and misrepresented numbers that Butch has brought to light. Want to do the Road Commission next?

    RP

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