Path Forward… MJ Emergency Services

Let’s line up our targets.   What is next?  We have a tax…for what?  Butch has given an excellent plan for investigating the county financially and from a liability angle.  Sonny has given direction  on what may be required of the county.  The city shows up as a zone on the WEMA map, thanks to P.’s maptastic overlay.  The county could do it but won’t…why?  Etc, etc, etc.   According to Steve Miller…”time keeps on ticking, ticking, ticking…”  Where do we go from here?  How should our thoughts and efforts line up?

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459 responses to “Path Forward… MJ Emergency Services

  1. Chief O'Hallorhan

    If were talking strictly Mt. Juliet

    Think we need to start by contacting MTAS a do another Fire Study that focuses on just Mt. Juliet and the Urban Growth Boundy, not the entire county like the 2006 study. This would confirm what most of us have been saying or that been told to the City Commission that we will need 3 stations, Combination department utilizing Full and Volunteers for manpower, run Fire, Medical, Rescue. Let WEMA take care of the amubulance transporting and the specialized rescue (hazmat teams, water rescue, etc).

    From everything we’ve been told and read is that the County doesn’t and won’t continue to provide us with what we need to be adequately protect us in Mt. Juliet regardless of the fact that we are all county residents so Mt. Juliet going into the business ourselves makes the most sense to me.

    We have a property tax in place focusing on fire protection now and if we can get the fire tax district idea passed that would sucure the funding issue.

    Really all this is talk in a sense until we get some type of Fire Study report, 5-10-15-20 year plan created as to what we want to have and how will pay for it all.

    My two cents anyway

  2. Butch Huber

    Publius,

    For so long now I have been laser focused on getting the county to a point where they have to concede that the way that they are covering this county is unlawful. However, lately, my attention has started to turn toward “what should things look like when they are right and how do we get there from here?” This is the stage that really requires active and persistent involvement from those who actually do the job and who have been there and done that when it comes to developing emergency services and public safety departments in Tennessee and outside Tennessee. I have very, very broad strokes understanding that barely scratch the surface of what would make a great fire department, but I believe I have a better understanding than the average citizen. There are so many regulations, standards, statutes, organizations, and other aspects involved here it would require a rather large organization to implement a change plan. My plan is simple to understand, however, it does not include the details that are necessary for its implementation. We need a consortium of interested, dedicated, determined people, including a cross-section of geo-political and socioeconomic demographic representation, to determine the final product. The implementation of change in this arena could cost lives and cause unnecessary loss of property if it is not handled properly. We need all interests considered and addressed and we need all parties onboard with the change and eager to resolve the issue. That all starts with a humble admission by the county that there needs to be wholesale change, not only in this issue, but in others as well. We need to stop fighting each other and work together to make a better county, and a better state. Fire Protection Services is the central issue we are dealing with in these discussions, but the lack of adequate fire protection services is but a symptom of an overarching problem. We keep attacking each other in this county instead of accepting that we are all citizens of this county and of this state and we need to work together for the betterment of all. That effort does not necessitate taking money from one to give to another, it requires that we be giving and considerate of one another. We don’t need government to tell us that we need to take care of our brother, we should know that intrinsically. If we choose to give toward an effort to take care of those who can’t take care of themselves, that is our decision. If we choose not to give, that is our decision as well. Government is not intended to be a charitable organization. That is what non-profits are intended to handle. We need to separate what is and what isn’t a function of government, we need to educate the public as to what the issue are and involve the public in the solution. The solution is simple, but it isn’t easy. I sincerely do believe that the plan that I propose is the best plan and that it is so flexible and adaptable that it can be used anywhere and everywhere in the state. I also believe that we need to clean up the statutes in the law so that they allow even more flexibility and provide much more clarity.

    R.P. Your apology is accepted, and I offer you mine as well. We can and will disagree on things, but we need not ever be disagreeable toward one another. We are on the same side, we just have different opinions on certain issues. Those different opinions do not make either of us bad people. Let’s not do this again.

  3. Randall Patrick "R.P." McMurphy

    What about an MJFD that does it all?

  4. Chief O'Hallorhan

    A MJFD that does the whole umbrella of course is doable with them also doing the EMS side of the transport business or contract it out.

    When we’d look into the EMS side of the house with ambulance as well we would need to get a Medical Director, create EMS protocols unless we work under the same protocols as WEMA has approved and still use Dr. McKinney as the MD, an extensive supply sytem would need to be created…

    Everything is doable as you know RP it just takes a look of good planning that involves the funding and the necessary mutual and automatic aid agreements in place in the case our ambulance and/or fire engines are on calls when another call comes in..

    Doing Hazmat, Swiftwater, Hi-Angle, Lo-Angle, Extensive Extrication, etc.. just would include more equipment that would be needed to be purchased and the specialized training along with it.

    Like everything in emergency services it all comes down to revenue you have to work with and the scope that you want to practice or extensive amount of calls type you want to cover under your department

  5. Randall Patrick "R.P." McMurphy

    I can get you medical direction and a supply system with one call. I can get you an EMS Chief and a Fire Chief with calls 2 and 3. Calls 4 and 5 will get you a PRN ems training officer and a PRN fire training officer, both with impeccable records and abilities. What else you need?
    RP

  6. Butch Huber

    We really need to get all of the players on one sheet of music and start playing in harmony with one another. How do you like those metaphors?

    We need to find out whether or not we can get the county and other cities to cooperate in the development of a legal, operable, and fully capable system of if we really need to go it alone.

    My position is that we take all of the arrows from the county’s quiver as we possibly can before we sit down at the table to negotiate with them, then once we sit down we take as many more as we can. We take their arrows from them first and foremost so that they can fling their arrows at us. Secondly, if hostilities are to begin, we want to have all the bows and all the arrows and we want them to have no weapons. That helps to assure victory on our side should a victor be necessary.

    The county is probably going to bluster that they could establish several non-profit volunteers and fund it out of the general fund. I do not believe that they can initiate such serves officially, but they probably could do it behind the scenes and get away with it. They could get away with it until a bill is passed into law that prohibits them from doing it.

    The county at this point, unfortunately, is probably working on a plan that would ensure that we (Mt. Juliet) doesn’t win. They may get their way, but their victory will be worse than defeat. I, on the other hand, only want for everyone to be winners, but not victorious, unless we are being victorious over inadequate levels of service. It really is a shame that the county would work so hard to stick it to Mt. Juliet. What did we ever do to them?

  7. Chief O'Hallorhan

    Well RP again thats where we might differ in that you may have some “administration” in mind, I”m more for the lets recruit and get the best we can get, not hire a bunch of WEMA and NFD that have jumped ship. From everything I seen, we talked about getting away from the “good ole boy” system that is rampant so why continue it without a solid recruitment process to find the best Administration we can.

    Seems to me from what you have posted RP in the past and others have posted that WEMA Administration and the County Officials have basically fought against helping Mt. Juliet in anyway or put up more walls to slow any improvements to the west side, so considering of hiring anyone in the Administration at WEMA would be out in my “citizen” opinion if those we some of the people you had in mind.

    Butch when you ask about what we did to them.. I think simply we got bigger then Lebanon, have a new look then Lebanon, attracted more business to MJ then Lebanon for the last years, and MJ is losing the little brother title or the small town to the West who has no say.

  8. Butch Huber

    Chief, I get that, but the deep rooted disdain and hatred seems to go way back. In fact, it appears that the reason Mt. Juliet came into existence as an incorporated city was because of the enmity. This place was nothing more than a blip on the radar screen back then. In fact, 16 years ago, when I first came to this area of the county, I remember riding into Mt. Juliet and looking at the person I was with driving around with and saying, “I think we just fell off the edge of the earth”, or something to that effect. It could have been, “I think we just went back in time”. That is how small this city was just 16 years ago.

    We probably need to annex as much territory into the city as we possibly can annex, then start rattling the metro government sword. They need to know that the power of this county really does lie in the western portion, but not really just west of 109, but rather west of Bender’s ferry and Beckwith Roads and north of central pike. About 100 square miles of territory, approximately 1/6th of the land mass of Wilson County, contains perhaps half or more of the population. That is a whole lot of power that has heretofore not really been tapped. We should control who becomes the county executive for quite some time in the future. It also appears that , within our growth boundaries, lies 13 of the 25 seats on the county commission. I think it may be time to rethink everything. We may need a wholesale new philosophy for the western portion of this county.

    Chief, I have felt for this entire time that some who are behind this push to get a city fire department established are those who work for John Jewell and who see a Mt. Juliet Fire Department as a place they could apply and get a job and get out from under his direction. I am not saying “all” of the fire fighters who want this have this as part of their agenda, but I do believe that “some” have that as their agenda. Those who have fought me most are those who I suspect. They tried to say that I was doing nothing but messing things up and they tried to marginalize me because I wasn’t in the fire department. They tried to get me to go away. The more they protest against my efforts to get this matter settled the more you can bet their agenda was to get a job working for Mt. Juliet. I have no problem with the idea of hiring them for the job if they are the best qualified, however, I am with you. I want the best. I wouldn’t want to hire people for our department simply because they are disenchanted with their current employment. I want someone who is leaving a job they love and in which they have tremendous job security to come to this department, because I could be sure they were doing it for the right reasons. I want someone to protect me who wants to protect “me”, not someone who is coming here because they hate where they currently work and they see this as a better place to work. In a very short time, those people will likely hate working here also.

    One of the other things that I am lobbying our city government to do is to build a department devoid, as much as possible, of the negative attitude that some fire fighters have toward the public. Early on in the threads about fire there was a post that included a lot of letters that made up acronyms. I investigated some of those acronyms and in the process I found some things that were very distressful. It seems some of those acronyms had duel meanings. One meaning sounded fine, but the alternative meaning revealed an attitude that should never be a part of a public service. I think whoever runs our city department should have a history that demonstrates that he or she is a true servant of the people. That person should only hire people who are servants of the people. Anyone who has a philosophy that is contrary to a spirit of goodwill toward the citizens should never make it into the department and if they make it in they should be fired. I realize there has to be esprit de corps in a fire department, and I whole heartedly encourage that, but it should not come at the expense of respect for citizens. I am of the opinion, that on a significant level, among many of those I have interacted with on this site (but not all) there is disdain and disrespect for citizens. A person who has lost respect for and who has disdain for citizens has, in my opinion, no right to be in a position such as a fire fighter or police officer.
    For those who are looking in and are fire fighters, I suggest you consider how you respond lest you perceived to be the hit dog that howls. I did not say, “all” fire fighters fit this description, I said that “some” fit this description. If that isn’t you, then don’t take it personally. If you are a fire fighter and you think that no fire fighter fits that description then perhaps you should consider how your brothers sometimes come across in what they say, because I have the distinct impression that such sentiment exists within the fire fighting community and I developed that perception based on things that have been written on this site by fire fighters. The sentiment, if true, is unsettling to me. It would be unsettling to me if I were a fire fighter as well because I would not want the public to see me in that light, and you are judged by the company you keep. I was a sailor in the United States Navy. I was educated about the great disrespect that civilians around Navy bases had toward sailors and the perception that all sailors were philandering drunkards. Unfortunately, that reputation was partly earned by members of the United States Navy. Regardless of how proud you were to serve, no matter how good a job you did, no matter how professional you were, if you wore the uniform you also wore the persona of a philandering drunkard until you proved otherwise. They used to even have signs that said “dogs and sailors keep off the grass” around Navy bases. The Navy largely cleaned up its image, but that took leadership to accomplish and a recognition that change was necessary. I hope that our commission has the good sense to do all that it can to keep out wrong attitudes and behavior from the very beginning. We have an opportunity for a fresh start and we have an opportunity to do something truly special in this community, we need to do it right. By “Right”, I mean, everyone, fire fighter, politician, management and the public being on the same side.

  9. Butch Huber

    I may be starting to get some traction. It may be CYA action going on, but I will take that for now. Anything to bring this to a head and resolve it so that everyone starts getting adequate service.

    To those who do the job for us, never think that I don’t appreciate you or that I don’t believe you do a great job for us, because nothing could be further from the truth. I am going after “More”, not necessarily “better, service.

  10. Butch Huber

    There is a memo from County Attorney that says that WEMA operates an ambulance service, rescue service, and a first aid service that is independent of the Countywide Fire Department. That memo was written in 2006. In 1992, the Attorney General for the State of Tennessee essentially said that you can’t do it that way. Hmmmm……more to come.

    I think we are going to have to create some serious public outrage over the county’s next intended course of action. They, I believe, are working on their own nuclear option. I think they are contriving a plan whereby the will dismantle WEMA, donate all of their equipment and buildings to two or more private non-profit fire departments, fund them with all of the money that they need in order to provide rural fire protection services, and use money from the general fund to pay for the service, which means we all get to pay for the services that are only provided to the unincorporated areas of the county. Is this legal? Yes, it is legal. It shouldn’t be, but it is.

    That is why, I believe, it is taking them so long to answer my questions, because they are putting together their little plan. They know that I have them in the corner and that they cannot possibly prove that the way that they have been funding the Countywide Fire Department is legal, so they have come up, I believe, with this option.

    Is that double taxation? No. It isn’t double taxation because two separate governments are doing the taxing for two separate purposes. The city will be taxing us to provide us with fire protection and the county will be taxing us to provide fire protection to those who live in the unincorporated portions of the county. From everything I have seen, it will be a legal construction.

    I am telling you this in advance of my meeting with the Mayor of the County on Monday because I don’t want them to be able to act like they caught me off guard, and because I want you to know what I believe they are up to before they reveal that to me. I am not saying that I don’t have a counter-plan for their actions, I am just saying what I believe that they are up to. Mark my words, they are up to something, otherwise they wouldn’t have taken so long to answer my questions.

    I also have some other things that are shaking loose that I believe may actually help us settle this issue. I think we may be breaking this logjam up.

  11. Sonny Griffin

    Hey guys,

    Just a thought, but has any one ever thought that WEMA could be a private company and not a government entity?

    Would explain a lot.

  12. Butch Huber

    Sonny,

    Something must have triggered that thought. What’s up?

  13. Randall Patrick "R.P." McMurphy

    Well, O’Hallorhan,
    it seems to me that you ain’t ready to be “chief” just yet. One of the more important aspects to leadership is the ability to refrain from panic, knee jerk reaction, and ASSUMPTION. Just as Butch shares his knowledge freely, I also will share a caveat with you…”ASSUMPTION IS THE MOTHER OF ALL F-UPS”. Please put that in your repertoire of reasoning. Now, you may know a few folks from 3-4 departments, but I believe I know a few more. I travel extensively with a consortium of fire service professionals representing and researching policy for this fine tradition. For the past 11 years, we have traveled from NY to LA, from Seattle to the sandpile and have made some lasting friendships with some of the most respected names in the business. Individuals that have written books and been published in the familiar periodicals of Firehouse, Fire Engineering, etc. In short, my reserve of names for consideration is way beyond the 2 small entities of WEMA and NFD. To clarify, NOT ONE OF THE 5 NUMBERS I WOULD DIAL HAS ANY CONNECTION WHATSOEVER TO ANY LOCAL OUTFIT. Not that they are not fine individuals that have proven themselves in these 2 organizations, I just know a slew of people from a bigger pool. So, next time you think you know something…you might want to know you know it just before you say it…or in this case write it. RP allows me certain liberties similar, but not identical, to Ms. Silence Dogood. Google “her”. Very interesting. And do…have a safe day.

    RP

  14. Randall Patrick "R.P." McMurphy

    Sonny,
    A private outfit using public/gov’t. monies…that would be a major skid mark if were proven true. WEMA came from WCCD…on paper that is. You bring up an interesting angle…can you give more?

    RP

  15. Randall Patrick "R.P." McMurphy

    O’Hallorhan,
    BTW, I would be remiss if I did not offer the following for your research…

    http://betterperspective.blogspot.com/2008/01/leadership-assumptions-or-fact.html

    http://garybclayton.com/leadership/2009/04/leadership-humility/

    Just something to consider to be the best you can be.

    RP

  16. Butch Huber

    “Wilson Emergency Management Agency provides and maintains an emergency ambulance, first aid, and rescue service available to all of Wilson County, including the municipalities of Lebanon, Mt. Juliet and Watertown, through seven stations at Lebanon, Mt. Juliet, Watertown (Ambulance only), Lakeview, Gladeville, LaGuardo, and Statesville (volunteer). An 8th station at Carthage Highway is anticipated.”

    -County attorney Mike Jennings. Excerpted from his memo: Research on Current Status of Fire Service in Wilson County, dated January 5, 2006.

    Excerpt from Attorney General Opinion U92-134:

    “This opinion concerns the method currently used to fund the provision of fire protection services in Wilson County. The Wilson County Emergency Management Agency is funded through the county’s general fund, which is derived from a property tax levied throughout the county, both inside and outside incorporated Municipalities. This agency is equipped to provide fire protection services and other services for the whole county. The incorporated municipalities of Lebanon and Watertown provide fire protection within their city limits. Although they are served by their city fire departments, residents of Lebanon and Watertown are currently paying property taxes to support both the city fire department and the Wilson County Emergency Management Agency.

    Under Tennessee law, counties have only the authority expressly granted to them by Statute or necessarily implied from a statute. See Bayless v. Knox County, 199 Tenn. 268, 286 S.W.2d 579 (1956). This office has previously opined that T.C.A. §§5-17-101—5-17-108 (1991 & Supp. 1992) contain the only general authority for counties to provide fire protection services. See Op. Tenn. Atty. Gen U88-124 (November 10, 1988). Under T.C.A. §5-9-101(23) (1991); Counties can appropriate funds only to county fire departments set up under T.C.A. §§5-17-101—5-17-108 and to volunteer fire departments. This office has previously opined that county-wide fire departments set up under T.C.A. §§5-17-101—5-17-108 must be funded by a special fire tax, and not out of general funds. See op. Tenn. Atty. Gen u-92-127 (Oct 30, 1992); Op. Tenn. Atty. Gen. U88-124 (November 10,1988).

    According to the opinion request, the Wilson County Emergency Management Agency is designed to perform many of the functions listed under T.C.A. §58-2-101(1) (1989), which include, but are not limited to, fire protection. T.C.A. §58-2-101 is part of the statutes on civil defense. Under T.C.A. §§58-2-117 and §58-2-122 (1989), local governments can set up local civil defense organizations and make appropriations to pay their expenses. T.C.A. §58-2-101(1) defines “Civil Defense” as follows:

    “Civil Defense” means the preparation for and the carrying out of all emergency functions, other than functions for which military forces are primarily responsible to prevent, minimize and repair injury and damage resulting from disasters, enemy attack, sabotage or other hostile action, or from riot, mob violence, power failure, energy emergency, or threatened or impending happening of any of the above.

    This subsection then lists the functions included: One of the listed functions is firefighting services. The definition of “disaster” set out in T.C.A. §58-2-101(3) states, in pertinent part;

    “Disaster” means any hurricane, tornado, storm, flood, high water, wind-driven water, earthquake, drought, fire, or other natural catastrophe resulting in substantial damage, hardship, suffering, possible loss of life, or other actual harm to the health, safety, or welfare of the citizens of the state of Tennessee.

    While civil defense organizations are authorized to provide fire fighting services, it is the opinion of this office that the civil defense provisions do not cover regular fire protection services such as those provided by the Wilson County Emergency Management Agency. The definitions in T.C.A. §58-2-101 indicate that civil defense functions are aimed at addressing emergencies of great proportions. T.C.A. §58-2-102 (1989), which sets out the purposes of the Civil Defense chapter, refers to “the existing possibility of the occurrence of disasters of unprecedented size and destructiveness.” T.C.A. §58-2-102(a). It is the opinion of this office that the civil defense provisions were not intended to give counties a way to circumvent the requirements of T.C.A. §§5-17-101—5-17-108 for County-wide fire departments.

    Moreover, the information available to this office supports the conclusion that the Wilson County Emergency Management Agency is essentially a county-wide fire department as contained in T.C.A. §§5-17-101 –5-17-108. The agency provides regular fire protection services for the county, as well as other emergency services. T.C.A. §5-17-102 gives county-wide fire departments the authority to provide emergency services other than fire protection. See, e.g., T.C.A. §5-17-102 (a)(9), (11), (14).

    In order to provide regular fire protection services, Wilson County must comply with T.C.A. §§5-17-101—5-17-108.”

    End of the excerpt from the attorney general’s opinion.

    I will repost a pertinent part of the attorney general’s opinion below for effect:

    Moreover, the information available to this office supports the conclusion that the Wilson County Emergency Management Agency is essentially a county-wide fire department as contained in T.C.A. §§5-17-101 –5-17-108. The agency provides regular fire protection services for the county, as well as other emergency services. T.C.A. §5-17-102 gives county-wide fire departments the authority to provide emergency services other than fire protection. See, e.g., T.C.A. §5-17-102 (a)(9), (11), (14).

    T.C.A. 5-17-102 (a) (9):

    (9) Provide and maintain an emergency ambulance, first aid and rescue service;

    It appears conclusive to me that the Tennessee Attorney General meant that the emergency ambulance service, first aid, and rescue services provided by the county were in fact essentially part of a countywide fire department. You should know that at the time of the opinion Wilson County did not have a countywide fire department. It was operating as “WEMA”. The attorney general’s opinion was clearly that this county was operating a countywide fire department and calling it something else (WEMA) so that it could posture that it was funding that operation through the civil defense statutes. The attorney general said, “you can’t do that.” The county then, for some reason, took the position that the attorney general was only referring to fire suppression, and not “fire protection services and other services” as it clearly states in his opinion.

    The county is toast. I don’t know why they won’t concede other than that they are trying to get their ducks in a row before the proverbial “S—t hits the fan”.

    Ask yourself. Why would they take so long to answer my questions? What could they be cooking up that would necessitate that they take this much time to answer me? Could it be that they have been in the process of setting up a non-profit so that they could quickly and quietly shift all their assets over to a non-profit entity? Could it be that Sonny has hit upon something in the thought that WEMA is a private entity? Is someone somewhere covering their tracks? Are we in the midst of a county cover-up? Are shredders working overtime somewhere?

    Actually, R.P., I strategically and tactically “Dribble” information, I don’t really share it freely. I keep significant stores of dry powder in reserve. I am in a chess match, not a checkers competition. Make no mistake, there are those in this county who are working hard to continue this game whereupon those of us who live in this city and this area of the county pay a disproportionate share of the freight costs for providing services to the rest of the county. Their strategies are all based on how to get this end of the county to pay “More”. They don’t care how they get that accomplished, just that they get it accomplished. They have been very good at getting that done thus far, and unless they are pegged to a wall on this they will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

  17. Sonny Griffin

    Please click on the following link.

    http://www.manta.com/c/mmg4yrg/wilson-county-emergency-mgmt

    This is why I posted my last question.

    Manta could have this thing entirely wrong. I haven’t had time to research.
    But I thought this was interesting.

  18. Butch Huber

    So far I have found this.
    000377658: Corporation Non-Profit-Domestic
    Status: Inactive-dissolved (Administrative)
    Formed in: Wilson County
    Fiscal Year Close: September
    Term of Duration: Perpetual
    Principal Office: 110 Oak Steet, Lebanon, TN 37087 USA
    Annual Report Mailing Address: 110 Oak Street, Lebanon, TN37087 USA
    AR Exempt: No
    Public Benefit Corporation: Yes
    Initial filing: 09/27/1999
    AR Due Date: 01/01/2001
    Inactive Date:05/21/2001

    Agent Name: Spears, James
    Agent Address: 110 Oak St. Lebanon, TN 37087

  19. Butch Huber

    I checked with the secretary of state’s office and the Wilson County Clerk’s office and found nothing regarding a business entity at that location except as indicated above. The above information does require investigation to find out what was going on then. Why was this organization formed using a government address? Under whose authority? Under Whose Direction?

  20. Sonny Griffin

    Everybody,

    I should have researched this before I posted.

    The following link is from a lawsuit captioned:

    BAINES v. WILSON COUNTY
    Roy BAINES v. WILSON COUNTY, Tennessee, et al.

    No. M2000-00830-COA-R3-CV.

    — February 07, 2002

    “WEMA is a governmental entity and a political subdivision of Wilson County.   On or about May 10, 1993, Mr. Baines was injured in a work-related accident and, due to his impairment, filed suit to obtain workers’ compensation benefits.”

    Sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused.

  21. Butch Huber

    Actually, it produced something of interest, Sonny. Somebody incorporated as a non-profit out of Station 1. This all may have been proper and legal, and there may have been good reason for it, but I would like to hear the explanation.

  22. Chief O'Hallorhan

    Thanks for the interesting reading their RP, appreciate it…

    Seems I have hit a nerve with you all of a sudden after asking your a lot of questions about the WEMA Firefighters vs John Jewell posts that you never answered for us… is that a safe ASSUMPTION?

  23. Chief O'Hallorhan

    Do appreciate all the information on your sources as well RPH… Hopefully we will get to point that we can utilize some of your sources.

  24. Randall Patrick "R.P." McMurphy

    O’Hallorhan,
    There are no safe assumptions. Like, it would not be safe for me to assume that you have a closet of XXXL red polo shirts with generic iron-on gold badges…would it? Listen, if you asked a true Native American from any tribe, he would tell you that he sees it as a disgrace that anyone (including members of the fire service) would use the term “chief” simply because they do not understand near enough as to the spirit of the term. The chief of a tribe is seen as a “father” to all the members of the tribe and his actions are clearly seen as NOT SELF SERVING, but to the existance and thrive of the “family” tribe. So, in honor of the spirit of dedication to a cause greater than themselves, I hold those that aspire to be chief to the highest standard of selflessness. If that strikes a nerve with you, then I professionally suggest you take it up with the man in the mirror. As far as hitting a nerve with me…only I can allow you to do that and I just do not see the benefit. If you want my take on Jewell, then here it is…He will tell you that he has been in the service for 40yrs, questionable at best, but allowing for it, all 40yrs (while working in radio and the trash business as well…his Daddy gave to him) have been in volunteer service which is quite a bit different than manning a post 24 on-48 off. Getting called out in the middle of the night, doing the job, and then returning home to your bed and family is not the same as being away from your family and home for 24hrs. I do not have any use for the man but if I did take the time, I would ask him how many Christmas’s, Thanksgivings, birthdays, ballgames, and graduations did he miss in those 40 years. Not taking away from his service, he has done well with the Watertown bunch (their station 1 beats the whizz out of WEMA’s) but in his mind, he considers himself a FF and worse yet…a chief. I have seen him fight fire and believe me…he ain’t no FF. He shows blatant disregard for the safety of himself and his subordinates. HE IS DANGEROUS. But, he has money and is well connected. He gave a buttload of $$$ to Hutto and is safely set for this term and the next. (Hutto will run again and win…book it, Dano.) Jewell did not earn this title…HE BOUGHT IT. But you would need to talk to the men and women that work directly for him, I will not answer for them. I do know he got physical with one of his subordinates a couple of years ago and that employee was paid off and shipped off…end of story. Further, Butch is probably right in his take that some people involved in this cause are merely here to get a better job whether it be coming from WEMA or another FD. They are hoping to feed their egos a little closer to home or whatever. It is like anywhere else I has seen in my travels…some people are in IT for all the wrong reasons. The honeymoon with the shiney red truck and pretty blue uniform is over and they are too trifling to move on. One thing is for sure, eventually, these people are found out…either when they make Lt. or, without merit, take the title of chief. Are you one of these people? Time will tell.

    Butch,
    Your dribble is, more times than not, much more relevant than the contribution of a mortal man…keep doing it like you do. Later Tater.

    RP

  25. Chief O'Hallorhan

    Thanks RP… no XXXXXL red shirts in my closest but thanks for all the background on Jewell for the readers.

    I follow the pride, honor, tradition mentality with the fire service and I don’t believe in giving away titles or respect, but earning them as well. With respect, I was taught when I was in the Navy and again from my first Fire Chiefs in my career that respect is never given but earned… You have to respect the rank but you don’t have to respect the man until its earned. You may not respect the person in the top seat as a person, but at the end of the day he still is the Chief of the department and the boss. Any firefighter knows (and most people as well) that talk is cheap, its what you do on the fireground and in the hall by your actions that earns you your respect in the fire service.

    About the Chief in my screen name.. search Chief O’Hallorhan in google and see what it brings up. Same as you and your character name just describing the situation in MJ, not giving myself a title as you might think.

  26. Butch Huber

    We need more voices at the mic at the city commission meetings. Most of the time there are two voices, one is mine, and the other is the lady from Providence who carries a fire extinguisher. Her motivations are correct, she unfortunately hasn’t taken the time to educate herself as to the realities of what we are dealing with here. I have tried to get her to reconsider her approach to get this city to just establish a fire department. I don’t think she has any clue of the complexity of what she is asking them to “just do” and I don’t think she grasps the actual costs. I don’t think the city commission grasps the costs.

    The City Commission needs to consider the costs:

    1) The cost of construction of the buildings
    2) Payroll Costs. What will payroll costs look like? If we are going to be prepared to fight full alarm fires on our own we are going to need, according to a previous post on this site, sixteen fire fighters on duty at all times. If the county forces this city to go it alone on fire, we may need to have a force nearly as large as WEMA in order to be able to safely fight fires. Perhaps a mutual aid agreement with metro would mitigate those needs, but we need to find the answers to those questions before we jump into something here.
    3) To what standard of performance are we going to build our department? Will we follow a level of standard that is prescribed and recommended by professionals in NFPA (I think that is the organization), or will we do what the county is doing and just blaze our own trail and do our own thing? There are costs associated with standards.
    4) How many stations and were will they be located?
    5) Are we going to just do fire, or will we do fire, rescue, first aid, emergency medical ambulance, medical transport, hazmat, emergency management, water rescue, etc…? Each of those items has a cost associated with it.
    6) Are there water requirements that we would cause a need for us to enhance those services as well?
    7) What type of equipment?
    8) What of the new high school? If the county won’t provide adequate protection to protect our children in that school, will we provide the services there regardless of the issues between the city and the county? Will that require a quint or a ladder truck?
    9) Training?
    10) Communications?
    11) Maintenance of buildings and equipment?
    12) Break-out gear?
    13) Disaster preparedness?
    14) What will the department look like when it is built? How much will management cost?
    15) Fundraising?
    16) Legal issues?
    17) Insurance?
    18) Certification?
    19) Licenses?

    It requires much more than just putting up a building, buying some equipment, and hiring a few people. This requires a comprehensive plan of action with very well defined goals and milestones. The enhancement of services in this city will require many things that they have not yet even begun to think about. They need a committee to help with this issue. Buying a piece of land before you have thought this issue through could very well be a real waste of time.

    The city wanted to hire a company to audit the books of the county. What they ended up with is a company that is auditing the books of the county, but also making recommendations as to what the city needs and what it will need in five years. That report is due on the 15th of November. It is going to be very interesting to see what they come up with.

    We are just now finding out that we need to drop anywhere from $800 grand to as much as $1.7 million on a communications system for this city. That isn’t a small amount of money, that is huge for this city. A plan to finance these operations has to be developed. I know that they would like to pay for it as they go, but if they have to go headlong into this thing they will need to have a very detailed, well thought out plan of action, including a financial plan.

    Are they going to just throw us to the wolves and let us fend for ourselves or are they going to help us prove that the county is taking our money and not providing services commensurate with that for which they tax us? Will they help us make the county do right, or will they just turn their backs on us and let us pay twice for services that we only get once, if even once?

    I suspect, that in due time, the costs of a fire department will be very much in line with that of the police department. That means we will be spending nearly $6 million per year on that service. Remember, Lebanon only spends $3 million (As if that is “Only” a little), but they provide fire suppression and that’s it. We could be talking about the whole deal. That could easily run double the costs of fire. I have a plan to help offset those costs, but if they don’t listen and work smart they won’t be able to use it very well, if they use it at all.

    This is an effort that will require much more expertise and experience than they have available at city hall.

  27. OK, here goes. Against my better judgement, I am going to present some suggestions to possible answers to Butch’s questions. What he is asking here is paramount and I have watched for 3 days as the request has gone unheeded. I believe in my heart of hearts that these questions will give the project some direction and symbolise of vision. THESE ARE ONLY INITIAL SUGGESTIONS!!! They are by no means the be all/end all answers. I offer these based on 47 years of living here and 20 years in life safety/loss prevention from probie to administrator. I humbly and respectfully ask that the other contributors here use these suggestions as building blocks by adding their knowledge, expertise, and opinion. And with that stated…I offer:

    1. PSO or FD only? Do you wish to combine the PD with the FD and offer a PSO product. The Public Safety Office Building would house both PD and FD. In this direction, we could have a large complex housing both plus try again, this time with some knowledge and experience, to incorporate the PD officers as PSO members and allow them to have fire training as well. The point this will match is the fact that pursuant to NFPA at a structure fire, it is suggested that you have 16 FF on the scene. I think that if the MJFD has 16 FF on duty, that will be huge…however, if they do and there is a fire, ALL of the FD will be at the fire and the rest of the city will be unprotected. Having PSO officers from the PD in dual roles will allow for some of the FF to remain on station and on duty. If FD only, then you could have 2-3 fire halls and house administration in city hall or have one large station 1 with admin there and then 1-2 other stations. Fielder’s choice.

    2. Payroll cost. I suggest a great deal of care and planning in the area of daily schedule. One options is to have a set number of full time FF on duty at all times. The number of which we can discuss further in detail. Supplement this effort with part-time, on-call, and volunteers. Instead of just having this supplement force, detailed scheduling of each individual. Part-time labor takes care of itself by being in the hall for the shift. On-call and volunteer labor would need to be contacted prior to the shift and then have a way to contact them in the event of their need. This could be the responsibility of the District Chief(3rd tier supervision) that is running the FD that day.

    3. NFPA and OSHA at least.

    4. At least 2 to start. One on Pleasant Grove Rd. near the MJ Rd. intersection and one at York Rd. at Leb Rd. JUST SUGGESTING!!! Looking at the city boundaries particularly the amount of city south of I40, the P.G. Rd. station would have good response times to Providence, etc. York Rd for the north. Center boundary would be Division. Total number to be based on population/density. Also, for record, we have an abundance of elderly and special needs citizens not just in Providence, but throughout the city.

    5.The FULL MONTY and charge the national standard for each service…EMS, Fire, Rescue, HM, etc. The more money you can make for yourself, the less you have to ask for on a budget. e.g. If the FD annual budget is $6 million and you can make $1.5 in charges…then you need $4.5 from the city budget. This is NOT the easiest way to do it, but it is by no means impossible. I was fortunate to be able to do it this way and thanks to some great assistants, it worked.

    6. The west end of the county has great hydrants and ample of water pressure. If we did need a tanker, mutual aid from the county will be available. Would be a rare occurance.

    7.My opinion only… engines, rescue, haz-mat, ladder with elevated water and ambulances (1 for every 10,000 residents per TN DOT) With 27,000 and counting…go with 3.

    8. Butch, where is #8?

    9. WEMA uses the TARGET SAFETY website and it is top shelf. Not sure of the cost, but it offers the best monthly trng programs online that I have seen. Other training programs can be developed by the staff and implemented by the station officers or lead FF’s.

    10. Stand alone or piggyback with current PD dispatch.

    11. Stand alone or piggyback with PD maintenance (city)

    12. Cost of doing business.

    13. Responsibility of chief and staff. Personally, I do not see a need for a special office to be in existance for this effort. The chief and his staff should embrace this opportunity. With finance. Use the city office effort.

    14. Boo-koodles of ways of doing this. My suggestion is that you have a chief, asst’s for fire and ems, admin asst., logistics officer, and district chief for day to day. Out in my world there are many folks that would gladly do training on a prn basis. Just an example, for EMS, pay “Bob” $20/hr for 30 hrs/week of effort with no benefits. In my circle of friends, I could get some great quality traing for this $$$ and it would be recognized certification traing at the state and national level. JUST A SUGGESTION!!!

    15. YES!!!

    16. Legal issues are rubber stamped in the industry. Not to make light of them, but they are cookie cutter in most instances. There would be the need to personalize some for MJ.

    17. Cost of doing business.

    18. Certifications in NFPA/OSHA/ISO, etc etc.

    19. All personnel to have FF1 and EMT-IV to be considered for hire at least. Ambulances will be ALS with FF/EMT-P. Great care/effort will be needed for training further for HM, Rescue, water rescue, rope rescue, high angle/confined space, etc.

    Again, these are just some very broad and nearly transparent suggestions. Each would obviously need fine tuning and further research. I simply feel the questions Butch has proposed were of such importance and valid direction, that they need to be initiated with response. Let’s build up…

    God Bless you all,
    Jamie Luffman

    Proverbs 27:17
    Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.

  28. Randall Patrick "R.P." McMurphy

    J.L.,
    Broad strokes for sure, but a great build on Butch’s questions. Suggestions:
    Bring the on-call, prn, and vol effort in #4 in line with the pso thought in #1 if that is the route MJ decides to take. Initially start with 2 stations…agreed. I see where you are going with the York Rd station. Looking at the map and the future with poss. annex of Leb Rd to Matterhorn and all points north–a third station somewhere on Saundersville Rd. The Pleasant Grove Rd station I would suggest moving just a mile south to the Providence West area. It is small, undeveloped, and good location for Providence, Dell Webb, and future growth. Just sayin”…

    RP

  29. Butch Huber

    Thanks for responding Jamie. It is interesting that you guys both came up with different placement of the south location than where the city is going with it. This is the sort of thing that I mean. You guys live here, you know the city, you know the community, and you have come up with two distinctly different locations from the location the city has seemed to have chosen. You do the job, they don’t. That is why they really need to consider putting together a consortium to work on this rather than five people who have very little knowledge about this subject making decisions based, seemingly, solely on suggestions made by people who don’t work or live here. Their input is valuable, but so is your input, and your input is being left out.

    Think of it this way, if inside trading were legal, and you had access to it, would you invest based on speculators who are on the outside, or would you invest based on inside information? I would go with inside information. However, if I could have access to speculators, who have to take the global picture into account, and if I also had all of the inside information I could stand, would I not be more likely to make a good decision? That is what I am trying to get this commission to see, that they can have both and they are “choosing” not to have both.

    It is time for the people making the decisions for Mt. Juliet to have valuable input from those who are doing the job in this arena. This is only one of the many reasons they need to hear from some of you at the mic at city hall, to show them how woefully inadequate their knowledge about this subject is and how desperately they need help.

    Asking for help in making decisions doesn’t make you weak, it makes you strong. You still get to make the final decision, but now you have the facts upon which you will make the decision.

  30. Thank you for the kind sentiment. I will tell you, and anyone else who will listen, that I am by no means the be-all end-all. In this dynamic field, I strive to be a perpetual student. I do not know all the answers, but I do know enough people and have the resources to find any answer. “It takes a village…” We have annual CEU courses…that’s continuing education units, that is why I love this work…it makes you keep learning and improving. In my talks with leaders of this city, I have told them it comes down to who you trust. For everything you or I tell them, there is someone telling them we are wrong. I do not think we are. Again, thank you and have a blessed week.

    Jamie Luffman

    1 Peter 4:10 As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s grace.

  31. Sonny Griffin

    Now this is good stuff!!!

    I really like questions and answers. Cuts through a lot of BS.

    Jamie, I am sure you know that the City of MJ owns eight acres in Paddocks and I believe it is on PG Road.

    Anyway, Jamie, you sure have offered a lot of valuable information to consider. Thank you.

    And thank you, Butch, for the pertinent questions.

    I hope our Commission is listening.

  32. Butch Huber

    Fire suppression only. That is the word from Mayor Hutto. He said that the countywide fire department consists of fire suppression only. WEMA provides the rest of the services to all of Wilson County. Obviously, I am going to have a lot to say on this in the coming weeks and months, however, I wanted to get back to you as quickly as possible and give you the answer as soon as I got it, and that answer is, “Fire suppression only”. That answer is consistent with what County Attorney Mike Jennings stated in his 2006 memo, and it is consistent with what the County EMA members stated in a recent EMA committee meeting. On that basis, I am going to use this answer as the basis around which to frame the current issues. We finally have some place to start.

  33. Randall Patrick "R.P." McMurphy

    I would like to hear him explain that response. For example, if there were a house fire on River Rd. (this is off Saundersville Ferry in the west end of the county and HAS HAPPENED IN THE PAST) with multiple structures becaused they are so close and the response is Stations 3,4,5,6…I want to know how he will explain to the citizens of MJ proper, Lakeview, LaGuardo, Gladeville, incorp & unincorp. how they will have to wait for their ambulance to come from Lebanon or Watertown because their ambulance AND CREW are fighting fire on River Rd. WEMA is a combination service irregardless of what he thinks he can put on paper or verbally whiz as an answer. He may think he can separate the efforts of the trucks but he CANNOT separate the efforts of the employees.

    RP

    P.S. It’s probably best MJ get out from under this effort and look to do it by themselves for themselves…

  34. Chief O'Hallorhan

    Totally agree with you RP and Jamie…

    This is the same issue that will come up if Mt. Juliet “supplimented” the WEMA system to offset operations cost with city property taxes. How can the City Commission justify to me as a city taxpayer in Mt. Juliet, why my fire engine that I pay for with this tax revenue would be allowed to respond out to a County Distrcit when a house catches fire in Mt. Juliet.

    We need to follow the lead of Lebanon and do it ourselves and be accountable to ourselves and not take the “scraps” that WEMA offers with no accountability for there budget and operations. Those on Oak Street don’t care about the ones who live or work in the West, they have shown that on numerous occassions when they run short staffed in the most populated areas of the county, as they are running full staff at Station 1…

    Look forward to what comes next Butch…

  35. Butch Huber

    R.P., They are going off of a approved motion of the emergency services committee from back 1981. Their position is that, when they established the countywide fire department, all they did was separate out fire suppression from the rest of the services offered by WEMA and that the rest of the services remained with WEMA. That runs contrary to the Attorney General’s opinion in U92-134. It also runs contrary to their own resolution in R95-5-4, which says that the countywide fire department shall have all the powers and duties enumerated and contained in TCA 5-17-102 inclusive. The next step is to review the county budget from 1998. The county collected a fire tax back then, if those funds were not used exclusively for the purpose of paying the expenses of the countywide fire department then anything that they paid for should be considered to be part of the countywide fire department. We needed a firm foundation to start building a case. By stating that the countywide fire department contains and is comprised solely of the Fire Suppression functions of WEMA, we have a place to start building the case that there is no conceivable way that the county could be operating the countywide fire department in compliance with state law. Before now it was like shifting sand. Now we have a concrete place to start.

  36. Sonny Griffin

    For your reading pleasure:

    BUDGET COMMITTEE MINUTES

    The Budget Committee of the County Commission of Wilson County,

    Tennessee met in regular session on Thursday, September 8, 2011 at 7:00

    p.m. in the upstairs Conference Room at the Wilson County Courthouse in

    Lebanon, Tennessee. Those members present were Commissioners Mike

    Justice, Annette Stafford and Wendell Marlowe, being all the members of

    the Committee with the exception of Commissioner Bernie Ash and

    County Mayor Randall Hutto, who were absent. Also present was Finance

    Director Aaron Maynard, Deputy Director of Schools Mickey Hall, WEMA

    Director John Jewell, Assistant to the County Mayor Rachel Warren,

    County Attorney Michael R. Jennings and several County Commissioners.

    In the absence of Chairman Ash, Commissioner Justice called the

    meeting to order and determined that a quorum was present.

    The amended minutes of the July 28, 2011 meeting and the minutes

    of the August 11, 2011 meeting were presented. Motion to approve these

    minutes as written was made by Commissioner Marlowe, seconded by

    Commissioner Stafford and carried unanimously.

    WEMA Director Jewell presented a Budget Amendment Request for

    his department. The Emergency Management Committee had

    determined to recommend that the six (6) additional employees funded

    in this year’s budget for his department be divided into three (3) EMT’s

    and three (3) Paramedics. This will require an additional $22,074 out of the

    fund balance. Director Maynard noted that the money appropriated in

    the budget for EMT’s had all been placed in the fire service side of the

    budget. We are now moving three (3) of these employees into the WEMA

    side of the budget. Motion to recommend this Budget Amendment

    Request to the County Commission was made by Commissioner Justice,

    seconded by Commissioner Stafford and carried unanimously.

    Director Jewell presented a list of items for Wilson Emergency

    Management Agency that are requested to be declared surplus. Motion

    to approve the surplus property list was made by Commissioner Marlowe,

    seconded by Commissioner Stafford and carried unanimously.

  37. Sonny Griffin

    5-17-102. Powers and duties.

    (a) With the specific exceptions relating to metropolitan governments provided for in this section, the county-wide fire department is empowered to do all things necessary to provide coordinated fire protection to all areas of the county, including, but not limited to:

    5-17-102. Powers and duties.

    (a) With the specific exceptions relating to metropolitan governments provided for in this section, the county-wide fire department is empowered to do all things necessary to provide coordinated fire protection to all areas of the county, including, but not limited to:

    (1) Sue and be sued;

    (2) Take or acquire real or personal property of every kind, or any interest therein, within the county, by grant, purchase, gift, devise or lease, and hold, manage, occupy, dispose of, convey and encumber the same and create a leasehold interest in the same for the benefit of the county;

    (3) Exercise the right of eminent domain, but only with the consent of the county legislative body or other governing body;

    (4) Establish, equip, operate and maintain a county-wide fire department and establish and enforce regulations including, but not limited to, those for the administration, operation and maintenance thereof;

    (5) Appoint and employ necessary employees and define their qualifications, duties and responsibilities, and provide for payment in reasonable sums for such duties;

    (6) Employ counsel;

    (7) Enter into and perform all necessary contracts, including, but not limited to:

    (A) Contracts for the supply of water where necessary for fire protection;

    (B) Contract to have existing fire departments and others provide fire protection services in any area of the county, including, but not limited to:

    (i) Contracts with incorporated towns and utility districts to provide such service within or without their corporate limits;

    (ii) Contracts to provide fire protection services for any city, town, district, or any part thereof within the county;

    (C) Contracts to provide and be provided training and maintenance;

    (D) Contracts to provide and be provided all special service functions, such as arson investigation, inspection, and emergency ambulance and rescue services;

    (8) Provide and maintain all special service functions necessary for the prevention of fires, including the investigation of the cause of fires and the enforcement of regulations to prevent harmful fires and smoke;

    (9) Provide and maintain an emergency ambulance, first aid and rescue service;

    (10) Make regulations, in order to prevent harmful fires and smoke, that shall have the force of law when approved by the county legislative body or other governing body;

    (11) Give aid anywhere in the county in the event of fire, flood or other disaster;

    (12) Assist local and volunteer fire departments whenever necessary. Such assistance includes, but is not limited to, financial aid and shall be upon such terms as agreed to by both parties;

    (13) Provide training and maintenance services for the benefit of any fire department;

    (14) Set up a central communications network connecting all fire and emergency units in the county;

    (15) Train, equip, maintain, and provide for the payment of volunteers at the discretion of the county-wide fire department;

    (16) Recommend the boundaries of fire tax district or districts to the county legislative body or other governing body, in those counties that have chosen to fund fire departments through fire tax districts, in order to have the fire taxes more nearly reflect the cost of services to be rendered in each area of the county, and recommend the amount to be spent in each such district;

    (17) Make reasonable charges for any services rendered that are not included in the fire tax of the district; and

    (18) With the approval of the county legislative body or other governing body, make written agreements for allocation and conveyance of any or all public functions, rights, duties, property, assets and liabilities of the county-wide fire department to any annexing municipality that justice or reason may require in the circumstances.

    (b) In those counties that now have or may hereafter have a metropolitan form of government, the powers described in subdivisions (a)(1)-(3), (5), (6) and (9) shall not be vested in the county-wide fire department, but shall be vested in the metropolitan government, to be exercised in the manner provided by its charter.

    The county-wide fire department (WEMA) is empowered to do those things, NOT THE COUNTY. The county-wide fire department and the county are two entirely different entities.

    The law also says that:

    (b) The powers and duties of the county-wide fire department may be delegated by the county legislative body or other governing body to an existing agency.

    That existing agency was WEMA.

    When those powers and duties were delegated to WEMA, WEMA essentially became the county-wide fire department. The county-wide fire department exists only in the embodiment of WEMA.

    As far as WEMA’s authority goes, it is enormous. Don’t forget, it is a governmental agency. It has been delegated certain powers and it can exercise most of those powers without the permission of anyone.

    The enabling legislation for the county-wide fire department is 5-17-102 (Powers and Duties). (9) is one of those powers.

    As long as WEMA does not exceed the scope of its enabling legislation, it can do anything it wants to.

    When it (WEMA) decided to provide emergency services according to its empowerment to do so, those services became part of WEMA (county-wide fire department). That’s the way it has always been done. WEMA and only WEMA has the power to provide those services.

    Therefore, you cannot separate emergency services from WEMA and hand them to the county or anybody else. Remember, the county-wide fire department (WEMA) has the authority to provide those services, not the county. If WEMA chooses not to do so, then the county can enact legislation to provide the services.

    If WEMA is not the county-wide fire department, then who is?

  38. Butch Huber

    As the remedy for past action would be extremely difficult, and rubbing the county’s nose in it would accomplish little that is productive, I am doing what I can to give the county a way out of this mess. I am hoping that they will take it instead of being stubborn and continuing to fight even against their own best interests. They can escape this mess merely by enacting fire districts and then working with the local municipalities in a cooperative effort. The key to their escape, in other words, is, “Be nice”.

    In the event that they are not going to be willing to play nice, all we need to do, now that we have the answers, is to have a forensic accountant reconfigure the county’s assessment of costs of the operation of the countywide fire department. The way that it was described to me by the county finance director was that he assigned all of the costs he could possibly assign to the ambulance service and only those items that are necessarily part of “Fire suppression” to the countywide fire department. I agree with Sonny that the Countywide Fire Department “is” WEMA and vice versa, however, until that is proven, one of the things that this city needs to be willing to do is to have a reputable accounting firm assess the real costs of operating the countywide fire department. Those costs would look considerably different than the costs determined by the County Finance Director. Then the City Commission should subpoena the County Finance Director, put him under oath, and ask he why he endeavored to conduct his accounting in the manner in which he conducted it and ask him if someone directed or asked him to account things that way or if he did that on his own. He should be asked to identify the standard accounting practice that would justify his accounting.

    A fire station exists for all the purposes of WEMA and not just “Fire Suppression” and “Ambulance”. The accounting was configured based on manhours spent actually responding to calls. Unfortunately for the county, whenever the ambulance is out and the responders who are assigned to fire are at the station, the costs for fire still toll. You have to assign half of the costs of manpower to fire suppression because those fire fighters have to always be available to respond to fires. The manpower costs of WEMA are quite stout. In fact, the cost of fire if you split the cost 50/50 with ambulance is over the total amount of the state shared revenue that the county says it can use to cover the costs of the countywide fire department which ultimately means fire districts and fire taxes for the county. By obtaining the answer as to the construction of the countywide fire department, even if we take the county’s version of what is permissible under the law in terms of construction the county and in terms of what funds are authorized to fund the countywide fire department, the county cannot pay for it with those funds.

    Fire taxes and fire districts are a game changer. There are going to be some fundamental changes in how emergency services are provided in this county. The question is, who is going to make those changes and under what authority and direction? Will they willingly make the changes, will the governments duke it out, or will citizens have to file suits? Stay tuned. Same Bat time, same Bat Channel.

    Oh, the mayor also pointed out that the county could also pay a non-profit countywide fire department to provide fire service under TCA 5-9-101(23). (didn’t I tell you that they would try that if pushed?) TCA 5-9-101(23) says: The county legislative body may appropriate moneys as follows:
    (23) to nonprofit volunteer fire departments or to nonprofit county-wide fire departments authorized by § 5-17-101 , upon such terms as may be agreed to by the county legislative bodies;

    Yes, under these statutes the county could provide funding to a non-profit volunteer fire department as authorized by TCA 5-17-101, however, the funding sources and appropriation of money must also be in accordance with TCA 5-17-101, which means that they have to be able to cover those costs with “Situs based taxes collected only in the unincorporated portions of the county “OR” through other sources of revenues that have already been shared with the municipalities, “OR” through fire taxes.
    Mayor Hutto is getting bad advice and counsel. He was told that there are two funding options. He was told that you either fund through fire taxes or you fund through situs based taxes AND other sources of revenue that have been shared with the municipalities and that state shared revenues are all already shared with the municipalities. His counsel is wrong. He said that they advised him that if the law was supposed to mean that you could fund through situs based taxes “OR” other sources of revenues that have already been shared with the municipalities the law would have had a line for fire taxes, a line for situs based taxes and then another line for already shared revenues. Those who are counseling him are reading into the law that which it does not say and saying that the law has to be written the way that they would have written it in order for it to say what it clearly already says. The use of the word “or” in that sentence is clearly an exclusive disjunction and not an inclusive disjunction. It says: (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;

    I just found a major error in the county resolution that amended the countywide fire department resolution. It says:

    NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the Board of County Commissioners of Wilson County, Tennessee that Resolution R95-5-4 be amended to show that as an alternative funding method to fire taxing districts, WIlson County may fund Fire Protection Services to the unincorporated portions of the County from revenue of the General Fund of the County which has been generated by situs-based taxes collecting in unincorporated areas of the county or originated from other revenue sources which have already been shared with the municipalities. This gives the appearance that you can use both types of revenue Situs and shared. The language here is not identical to the language in TCA 5-17-101 which says:
    (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;

    The resolution also requires that the Financial Management Committee make the recommendation for which method of funding to the county commission in that year’s proposed budget for consideration and adoption. This means that every year, since 1999, the county commission had to adopt a resolution that stated that they were using the alternative form of funding for that year. The resolution that amended the countywide fire department only authorized the use of the alternative method of funding in one year, 1999-2000. If the county commission didn’t actually authorize the alternative form of funding each and every year since then the default method of funding was to be used as the funding source, which means fire taxes. This could be a major issue for the county if they choose not to play nice.

    I am going to send an email to the county mayor to see if the county commission has adopted the recommendation of the county financial management committee each of the years since 1999. This should be informative at least.

  39. Butch Huber

    Mayor Hutto:

    I have been reading through county resolution S99-8-2. It says that the county only authorized the use of the alternative form of funding for the countywide fire department in the year 1999-2000. It says that each year thereafter the county financial management committee must make a determination which method of funding it would recommend that the county use to fund the countywide fire department and submit that to the county commission for consideration and adoption. Can you tell me if in each year since 1999-2000 the county commission determined in an official vote which form of funding the county would use to pay for the costs of the countywide fire department? It would seem to me that the county would have to make a bona fide vote on this issue rather than just adopt a budget that was mute on the topic. You just submitted a budget to the comptroller, did the county commission adopt in an official vote which form of funding it would use to cover the costs of the countywide fire department? I realize you are a very busy man, however, please understand that time is of the essence here and your prompt and immediate response is desperately needed and is appreciated.

    Please note, the resolution does not say that you can recommend to the county commission which form of funding would be used, it says that the county financial management committee would make that recommendation. I say that because the county voting for the budget does not in and of itself constitute adherence to County Resolution S99-8-2. The County Commission has to receive the recommendation from the County Financial Management Committee, adopt that as the form of funding to be used, then you have to build your budget around that form of funding. You can’t just select on your own which form of funding would be used, submit the budget to the commission, and when they approve the budget then say that they approved the form of funding by adopting the budget. You need to be able to present documentation to substantiate that the county commission actually adopted which form of funding it was authorizing to be used to fund the countywide fire department in that fiscal year. Absence of any such vote by the county commission necessarily means that the county was to use fire taxes to pay for the costs of the countywide fire department for that fiscal year and any subsequent fiscal year until such time as there is a vote by the county commission to authorize the use of alternative funding.

    Respectfully,

    Butch Huber

  40. Butch Huber

    Mayor Hutto,

    Just a little feedback from our conversation on Monday. In that meeting, and in other meetings, you have stated that that county has four fire stations west of 109 and four fire stations east of 109. I suppose you have heard that statement from someone else and have just repeated. First of all, you only have three stations that are technically west of 109. Further, in order to state that the Gladeville station is “west of 109” you have to use the eastern most portion of 109 as your measuring point as the western most point of 109 is a full 2 and a half miles west of where 109 connects to 840 and approximately 2 miles west of the Gladeville Fire Station. In effect, what you really have are two stations that are technically “West” of route 109. However, the distinction of which stations and how many are east of 109 and how many or west of 109 is not the important distinction. The primary function of an emergency services organization is to preserve life. The primary function is not to protect property, it is to preserve life. The secondary function of a fire department is to preserve property. The county collects property taxes from “ALL” of the county, and therefore has a vested interest in all property located in Wilson County. The greatest risk of loss of property in this county is not in the rural areas of the county, but rather in the urban and suburban areas of the county. Do an analysis of the property values in Mt. Juliet and in Lebanon on a square mile basis and you will find that per square mile Mt. Juliet’s, as well as those areas that lie outside Mt. Juliet, and those areas inside and just outside of Lebanon, are many times the value per square mile inside the rest of the county. Further, in open areas of the county there is little threat of loss of property value of any magnitude due to rapid expansion of fire or due to flooding, however, in the urban and suburban areas of the county there is great risk of spread of fire and catastrophic damage to flooding or other emergency. It is in the financial best interests of the county to ensure that those areas that are densely populated and that contain valuable assets are protected against fire, flooding and other disaster. The value of every life is equal, however, when you have one half of the population living in just 50 square miles (I am not talking about the areas west of 109 versus the areas east of 109, I am talking just those areas inside Mt. Juliet and immediately surrounding Mt. Juliet, but within 2.5 miles of the city limits of Mt. Juliet), the risk of loss of life is tremendously greater than it is in the wide open spaces of the unincorporated areas of Wilson County. A house fire in the areas surrounding Mt. Juliet could easily spread to multiple structure fires. Those are structures that have men, women and children living in them.

    The argument that we have half the stations of this county east of 109 and half the stations of this county west of 109 is an argument that is designed to justify the position of this county that it is providing the same level of coverage to everyone. The basis for that argument is that you are covering the land area of the county equally, however, land area coverage is so less important compared to the safeguarding of human life that the argument that we are providing everyone the same coverage based on geography should never even come up in civil discussions. Anybody who does not have an agenda can look at the population that is contained in the area between central pike to the south of Mt. Juliet, bender’s ferry to the east of Mt. Juliet and within the territorial boundaries of the county to the west in comparison to anywhere else in the county and they would quickly be capable of discerning that the levels of services in this area of the county are woefully inadequate and that we are not, on a per person basis, receiving near our fair share of services that are provided by WEMA.

    I do not believe that your interpretation that the only service included in the countywide fire department is a lawful construction of the countywide fire department, however, if it is a lawful construction, and if you provide all the other services through WEMA (which I also do not believe is lawful), and if you pay for those services out of the general fund, then each citizen has a right to appropriate and fair levels of coverage. That would suggest that half of all emergency services provided by the county should be based and stationed within that 50 or so square mile area that I have just laid out for you. I realize that is a hard pill for those who do not live in this area of the county to swallow, however, if you look at this rationally and unbiasedly I think you would agree.

    Forget that Lebanon has its own fire department, it elected to have its own fire department.

    Forget that Watertown has its own volunteer fire department, when the county established fire tax districts Watertown opted into the fire tax districts. They obviously wanted to have better protection from the county. There are only 1477 people in Watertown. That doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t have adequate fire protection, because they should. I want you to focus your attention on the 50 to 60 thousand of us who live in this fifty square mile area out of the nearly 600 square miles that make up this county and I want you to ask yourself, “If my little girl lived outside of Mt. Juliet, but inside the county in that area, would “I” think that what the county is doing is right?” “If my house burned to the ground and I lost my family due to the inadequate levels of emergency services in this portion of the county, would I blame Mt. Juliet, a city I don’t even live in, or would I blame the county?” Mayor Hutto, the lack of adequate services in this end of the county is not limited to fire suppression nor is it the responsibility or fault of Mt. Juliet. The county, not the city, elected to get into the fire protection services business,with all that that entails. By doing so you discouraged the growth of private and/or non-profit fire departments in this county. In fact, the county even approached this city and asked this city to roll all of its fire equipment and apparatus into WEMA and allow the county to cover the city for fire protection services, so the county even put a volunteer fire department out of business. I know that many in this county want to win this debate, but winning the debate pales in comparison to the importance of safeguarding life. I encourage you to come over to my side of the negotiating table and become a champion of the cause of dramatically increasing the level of public safety throughout this entire county. Isn’t that the side of the table that our county mayor belongs on?

    Butch Huber

  41. Randall Patrick "R.P." McMurphy

    Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, children of all ages…YOU BETTER PAY ATTENTION RIGHT HERE AND RIGHT NOW. Butch has written a letter to a man that refers to the citizens of this city as “those people”. He has stated publicly…”I do not know what MJ is going to do for its people”. He has forgotten that as a citizen of MJ you are also a citizen of Wilson County…HIS CITIZENS. Remember this when he comes jacking your leg for a vote…if he gets one vote west of Bender’s Ferry that will be one vote too many. HE HAS TURNED HIS BACK ON YOU…TURN YOUR VOTE AGAINST HIM. He will run again…bank on it.

    RP

    P.S. All this does not make him a bad man…just a bad county mayor and a piss poor executive of service for you and your Wilson Co. family. This is what you get when the more popular/less experienced candidate wins…Please keep this in mind for the city contests.

  42. Butch Huber

    NOTICE OF SPECIAL MEETING / WORK SESSION
    CITY OF MT. JULIET, TENNESSEE
    BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS
    November 14, 2011 5:30 PM
    Pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated § 6-20-208, City Recorder Sheila Luckett hereby gives written notice that a Special Meeting/Work Session of the Mt. Juliet Board of Commissioners will be held on November 14, 2011, at 5:30 PM at City Hall. The business to be discussed and or decided upon at this meeting is as follows: Update on Emergency Services and any other topics arising therefrom or generally related thereto.

  43. Butch Huber

    This was sent out just now in the form of an email addressed to Governor Haslem, Sen. Beavers, Rep. Elam, Mayor Hutto, Mayor Hagerty, our city commission, our city manager, our city attorney, and the Mt. Juliet News, the Mt. Juliet Chronicle, and the Tennessean.

    I saw the following notice on the City Calendar:

    NOTICE OF SPECIAL MEETING / WORK SESSION

    CITY OF MT. JULIET, TENNESSEE

    BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS

    November 14, 2011 5:30 PM

    Pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated § 6-20-208, City Recorder Sheila Luckett hereby gives written notice that a Special Meeting/Work Session of the Mt. Juliet Board of Commissioners will be held on November 14, 2011, at 5:30 PM at City Hall. The business to be discussed and or decided upon at this meeting is as follows: Update on Emergency Services and any other topics arising therefrom or generally related thereto.

    Here are some related topics: I call it, “Things to contemplate regarding Mt. Juliet Emergency Services from A To Z.” This list is just the beginning though, so please don’t think this is all you have to consider.

    What will the Mt. Juliet Fire Department look like when it is completed:

    a) Will our fire department consist of only fire suppression and will we continue to rely on the county to provide rescue, water rescue, hazmat response, emergency management, first aid, and ambulance?

    b) Will we provide our own ambulance service, first aid, and rescue?

    c) If we are going to provide our own ambulance service, first aid, and rescue, what certifications and qualifications will we need?

    d) Will our Fire Department be part of a joint Public Safety Department with our Police Department?

    e) If we are going to build a joint Public Safety Department, will the Police be cross-trained to also be Fire Fighters and EMT’s?

    f) Will all city police officers be required to be cross-trained, or will you grandfather in those who are already serving?

    g) Who will be the city fire chief and what qualifications, experience, and certifications will that person be required to have prior to being hired?

    h) How many stations and what kind of apparatus and equipment will we need and how many of those vehicles will we need and how much equipment will we need?

    i) Will we use strictly career fire fighters or will we use some combination of career, part-time career, paid volunteer, and volunteer fire fighters?

    j) How many paid fire fighters will be on duty per shift?

    k) How will our fire department interact and associate with the Countywide Fire Department operated by Wilson County?

    l) What kind of certifications, experience, and qualifications will our fire fighters be required to have prior to their being hired?

    m) What kind of standards will be used in our fire department?

    n) What will be the coverage zones of our stations?

    o) What is the timeline for developing this department?

    p) Will we continue to allow WEMA to use our fire station, or will we take that station over for our city fire department?

    q) What will we pay our fire fighters?

    r) If police are required to pull double duty as police and fire fighters, will they be paid more money?

    s) Is it cheaper and better to use a private company, and if one does not exist that will provide all the services you want the department to provide, would it be better to provide seed money to a non-profit to get it up and running and let the non-profit run it?

    t) How much will all of this cost and when will those costs need to be covered?

    u) Can all of this be done on a lease/purchase and lease to own basis, or will the city have to come up with all of the start-up capital up front?

    v) Can we float a bond to cover the start-up costs?

    w) Are we going to have a vigorous fundraising campaign to help mitigate the costs of this fire department?

    x) Will the city force the county to do what is right regarding how it is taxing us and how it is not providing the level of services for which it is taxing us, or will the city just allow the county to continue to take our money and then tax us on top of the money that we are paying to the county?

    y) Will the city use its power and influence to get the county to come to the negotiating table in a cooperative fashion in order to seek an appropriate model under which the cities of this county and the county have a legal and sensible emergency preparedness and response plan that benefits all citizens of this entire county and that mitigates the costs to the lowest possible level in terms of tax costs to the citizens and that helps increase savings on home owner’s and commercial property insurance, or will the city simply jump feet first into establishing its own fire department and ignore the remaining issues such as adequate facilities taxes, use of everyone’s money to provide services to only those who live outside of Mt. Juliet, laws, regulations, etc.?

    z) Will the city recognize that this is way too big of a project with way too important potential consequences if you get it wrong for the city to not put together a consortium of concerned citizens and professionals and without seeking help through TACIR, MTAS, and the Tennessee General Assembly’s Joint Committee on Government Operations, Tennessee Senate Standing Committee on Health and Welfare, Tennessee Senate Standing Committee on State and Local Governments, Tennessee House of Representatives House Committee on State and Local Government, the Attorney General of the State of Tennessee, the Tennessee Comptroller, and the various other committees, subcommittees, divisions of government, the National Fire protection Association and other professional organizations that are knowledgeable regarding the best way to go about developing whatever organization this city is prepared to develop?

  44. Butch Huber

    I got word back that this work session is actually when the city commission will be going over the information that they receive back from the auditor. This should prove to be interesting.

    It is unfortunate that the city commission did not heed my warning that they needed to determine which services are a part of the countywide fire department and which services are not a part of the countywide fire department before they conducted this audit. I am apprehensive as to what this audit will show because it is probably going to be based on information that is not accurate.

  45. Randall Patrick "R.P." McMurphy

    You guys remember back a while, we had a guy on here that kept screeching “full disclosure”!!! Ha ha and good morning to you all. Be advised, there exists more than one published budget for WEMA. Actually, now it sounds like there are 3-4 floating around and/or being created as we write. Wonder this if you will…what is the only department of Wilson Co. Gov’t. that has its OWN finance director? …why? Who is this person and what moves is he doing with the money? Check his checkered past. Look into his reputation. Tell me if the moniker “financial minion” does not fit with what you find. Good hunting.

    RP

    Hint: call Sumner Co.

  46. Chief O'Hallorhan

    The answer is…. Rick Woodward…

    The only one shadier then that guy is the Special Services Officer, Head of the CERT/Volunteer Division.. Heckman

  47. Randall Patrick "R.P." McMurphy

    OUCH!!!…so much for discretion. Keep digging…there IS more.

    RP

  48. Butch Huber

    I went to the City Commission meeting tonight, as well as the workshop, and I have some things to report to you. The City Commission of Mt. Juliet recently hired a company to audit the county to determine if we are getting our money’s worth from the county. That organization had other tasks, but this is the one task that I want to deal with right now. Besides, the organization hasn’t really completed the other tasks enough to make a report yet.

    As to the question, “Are we getting our money’s worth from the county?” The short answer is a resounding….”NO”. I know, that comes as a shocker to all of you, just as it was a shocker to me. However, now a professional organization that does audits such as this as part of their main functions has weighed in and has come to the same conclusion.

    It turns out that the county takes from us at least $3.5 million, if not more like $5 million, more in taxes than it gives us in service. Now, that is an awful lot of money if you add it up over the next ten, twenty, or thirty years. If all things stayed the same, and if the figure was actually $5 million, it would mean that the county will have taken $150,000,000 from us over next thirty year without giving back service equivalent to that which they took. To us, that is like throwing $150 million down a rabbit hole over the next thirty years. However, that figure would be much worse if the county were never to increase the level of services that it provides to us, such as the freeze that they have put in place, and our property values continue to go up. That figure, over thirty years, could grow to over half a billion dollars. Perhaps now some of those who have opposed me in my efforts to set things straight can now understand why it is such an important issue. These are big numbers even if I am only a quarter right. Can you imagine the infrastructure a half billion dollars could buy this city? Even $100 million in city infrastructure would be astronomical. Think if $100 to as much as half a billion worth of infrastructure being build within the twenty square miles of Mt. Juliet and what that would look like. Better yet, think of half a billion dollars going back into our pockets. Are the larger numbers I am using accurate? Actually, they could be.

    I think this city now has the basis to show the county that we have our big boy britches on, and we are tired of having our big boy britches’ pockets picked.

    On another note, the county voted to purchase or lease the communications equipment the city needs, at a price tag of almost $1.1 million.

    The city also approved on first reading an ordinance to purchase some land in belinda city to place a fire station on it. I tried to get them to think hard about that decision. They have time to reconsider if they think it is a bad idea. I wanted them to consider what they were doing for many reasons. One, we have to build a new police station. They could be built together. Two, the city now has some serious leverage with the county that can be used to get them to come to the table and negotiate. Three: I just don’t think that they have asked you fire fighters what you think about the location. Those who do the job locally should be included in the equation, and I don’t think you have been. It just isn’t wise to leave out the experience and insight of those who actually do the job.

    There you have it. The picture is getting clearer and clearer. I think we are on the homestretch now.

  49. Butch,
    What was their response? “We know we are not getting what we pay for…here’s some land, please build another under staffed station. ” “Thank you, sir, may I have another?” WTF?

    RP

  50. Butch Huber

    I am not sure what they are thinking, R.P. The owner of the land they are purchasing evidently put some type of hurry-up on the deal. They passed this on first reading, but that doesn’t mean that they will pass it on second reading. I am hoping to be able to make some hay before they come back for second reading. Wish me luck. First I tried to keep the county from shooting us. Now I have to stop the city commission from self-inflicted wounds.

    It really is time to actually stop and catch our collective breath and consider the various options and give what we have found a chance to sink in. There is no less service available in this end of the county then there was 6 months ago or 6 years ago. We can take the time to do it right. That is not to say that I am not cognizant to the urgent need for enhanced services, it is to say that I am smart enough to know that wrong action can cost more in terms of human life and human suffering than taking the time to do it right costs. I think we can enhance services without going over a cliff while we are working this out. We can do that by the county accepting that it needs to enhance services and by Mt. Juliet being willing to help them with some cash until this gets settled. I would rather spend a dollar that I shouldn’t have to spend than to spend ten dollars that I shouldn’t have to spend, you know what I mean?

  51. Butch,
    anyone from the county there tonight? If not, when will this info be delivered?

    RP

  52. Butch Huber

    I am setting up a meeting with Mayor Hutto to go over my plan for public safety in Wilson County. I suppose that I will provide him with a report during that meeting if he hasn’t received it by then. My goal in all of this is to end up with a proper and appropriate plan for all of this county. I am a little apprehensive that someone on our commission might try and use this as a club. That, I am afraid, would be a set-back. These numbers are things that you massage and finesse, you don’t wield them like a club unless you absolutely have to do so. I would prefer to use them as a “point”, but not the most important “point”. The most important “point” in this is to ensure that we have adequate protection at the lowest possible cost.

  53. Shawn Donovan

    Butch

    As a resident that lives close to that location, I know they never asked me. The city has one acre (originally two acres) that CPS Land donated to them on Belinda Parkway for a fire station originally. Outside of the fact that the one acre wouldn’t fit the current model, but I don’t know why they don’t negotiate with CPS Land to get the acre again.

    Location wise. I think it has its pro’s and con’s. Pro wise it is located near the largest residential population in Mt. Juliet to the most part with the continued building and urban growth boundary it makes sense to be down there but needs to be in the 5 mile overlap for coverage. Con wise is its located directly across the street from a large apartment complex so I’m sure you will get some complaints from them about the sirens where the other location had commercial (open currently) across the street, commercial on the other side and Hidden Cove Rd on the ajoining property.

    I too am for doing a mixed us building for both police and fire if possible since there is a need there, but personally always been in favor of more of a central station that can be used for both purposes located near city hall.

    So I like the general area just don’t understand why you want to pay 250,000 for land plus the cost for developing property when you have CPS Land who said in the past they would work with the City on property..

  54. Butch Huber

    The city has many options, it just isn’t thinking those options through.
    Every fire station should be built with space on top for events. Those can be used for city needs and for fundraising. It just make sense to do that. You need lots of parking in order to do that though. You only have one shot at doing things right the first time. To do things right the first time you need time to think it through and you need input from as many directions as you can get them to ensure that you are doing the best thing for everyone and to ensure that you are doing things legally.

  55. Sonny Griffin

    Shawn,

    This is just hearsay so please take it as that.

    I understand that Mt. Juliet owns approximately one acre on Belinda Parkway and Johnson owns approximately two acres on Belinda Parkway.

    It has been determined that he one acre that Mount Juliet owns does not give enough room for the firehouse. The Mount Juliet property appraises for over $350,000.

    The Johnson property consists of two acres which everybody at the city seems to think is enough room. It appraises for $243,000 +. Johnson offers to sell to Mt. Juliet for the appraised value.

    The Johnson property is surrounded by property that is zoned light industrial. I know because I have a light manufacturing business next door to this property.

    I personally don’t have any objections to the firehouse next to me. I don’t think it will affect the value of my property one way or another. However, I don’t sleep there.

    The Johnson property is zoned light industrial which makes it less valuable than the Mt. Juliet property. So, zoning wise, I would say the Johnson property is a better fit.

    If MJ sold the property it owns, based on appraised values, it could have $100,000 toward construction of the firehouse.

    Please remember, the reasoning behind all of this is just hearsay, but it does make sense.

  56. Shawn Donovan

    Everything makes sense to me… hopefully it will become a reality.

  57. Butch Huber

    The only way that enhancement of public safety does not become a reality is if we quit. Burn your boats. Failure is not an option. We will succeed in enhancing public safety, that is a foregone conclusion, the question then becomes, will we use this issue that has been used to divide us as a tool to now unite us? This issue has within it the potential to be the bridge that leads us to a “Partnership in Prosperity” in Wilson County. I believe that there are more people who now want to “Get along” then there are those who want to “go along” with those who would stir things up and cause us harm. We are on the home stretch. I have serious reservations about the spot that they choose here for a new fire station for several reasons.

    1) It should be capable of supporting functions that could be used to add money to the program.

    2) It should be able to respond quickly not only to the people who live in Providence, it should be able to respond quickly to the people who live on the other side of Route 40 as well. I would rather see it located along Mt. Juliet road somewhere, but I don’t live in that area so I don’t know for sure.

    3) The city should be working earnestly with the county to build pathways to a joint operation or to encourage the county to pay the city to provide services to the unincorporated portions of the county. If this building is built, and all it serves is those who live in this city, and if we take over station 3 and serve only those who live in Mt. Juliet, then perhaps as much as two thirds of the coverage area that could be served from those stations won’t be covered by them and we end up paying taxes for the county to build new stations; which ends up with us once again paying twice for services that we only get once.

    4) Will we have a joint operation between fire and police? If so, is there a site that is more well suited for operating a fire station and a police station?

    5) Are we even ready to start the process? There are so many things that need to be considered here that I don’t think are being contemplated, and that if they are being contemplated aren’t being planned. We need a comprehensive plan that is cohesive and that everyone can buy into. We don’t have that….yet.

    6) We could very well end up with a joint operation agreement with Lebanon by the time this is over. That station could potentially handle the need in Providence.

    There are so many options and so little communication. You don’t develop good trade partners and you don’t foster collaboration by not talking to one another. Do I trust the county with my security and safety? No. Can I envision a scenario whereby we can work together and I still feel protected, “you betcha”. I am not up for wasting one single penny of taxpayer dollars, but I am up for wise investment of taxpayer dollars. Investments that provide long-term dividends are things that I strongly believe government should be getting involved with. Not investment in commerce, but investment in infrastructure that can be leveraged and used in such a way that the savings become taxpayer dividends. It is hard to make wise decisions until you have explored the opportunities and counted the costs. The city doesn’t seem to be doing either of those things. They need to be moving steadily along toward building our own fire department and at the same time they should be working toward building a bridge.

  58. Butch Huber

    A question for my radiofree friends:

    Please read this statute very carefully and then proceed to the question.

    58-2-102. Legislative intent.

    (a) The general assembly finds and declares that the state is vulnerable to a wide range of emergencies, including natural, technological, terrorist acts, and manmade disasters, all of which threaten the life, health, and safety of its people; damage and destroy property; disrupt services and everyday business and recreational activities; and impede economic growth and development. The general assembly further finds that this vulnerability is exacerbated by the growth in the state’s population, in the elderly population, in the number of seasonal vacationers, and in the number of persons with special needs. This growth has greatly complicated the state’s ability to coordinate its emergency management resources and activities.

    (b) It is the intent of the general assembly to reduce the vulnerability of the people and property of this state; to prepare for efficient evacuation or shelter-in-place of threatened or affected persons; to provide for the rapid and orderly provision of relief to persons and for the restoration of services and property; and to provide for the coordination of activities relating to emergency preparedness, response, recovery, and mitigation among and between agencies and officials of this state, with similar agencies and officials of other states, with local and federal governments, with interstate organizations, and with the private sector.

    (c) It is further the intent of the general assembly to promote the state’s emergency preparedness, response, recovery, and mitigation capabilities through enhanced coordination, long-term planning, and adequate funding. State policy for responding to disasters is to support local emergency response efforts. In the case of a major or catastrophic disaster, however, the needs of residents and communities will likely be greater than local resources. In these situations, the state must be capable of providing effective, coordinated, and timely support to communities and the public. Therefore, the general assembly hereby determines and declares that the provisions of this chapter fulfill a compelling state interest.

    I am going to repost part of this statute for emphasis.

    “In the case of a major or catastrophic disaster, however, the needs of residents and communities will likely be greater than local resources. In these situations, the state must be capable of providing effective, coordinated, and timely support to communities and the public. Therefore, the general assembly hereby determines and declares that the provisions of this chapter fulfill a compelling state interest.”

    Where is the states compelling interest? (This is not the question) It is when “the needs of residents and communities are greater than local resources.”

    The statues contained in this Chapter all refer to the scope of this chapter. After having read the above statute, is it your opinion that the operation of emergency services by WEMA is only under those circumstances in which the State has a compelling interest?

    Here is what I mean. In a court of law, the judge has to look to the intent of the general assembly when they enacted the law. Everything being stated her under the legislative intent of the general assembly speaks to major disasters and the statute itself states that it has a compelling interest when the need is larger than the local resources. In other words, it would seem, that routine emergency medical services, rescue, water rescue, fire suppression, hazardous material response, first aid, which can be handled by local resources without state assistance, would not fall under the conditions of this statute. Do you agree? Am I missing something? If I am right, this is “The” straw that broke the camel’s back. If the county cannot operate “ANY” emergency service under the Civil Defense Statutes unless there is a compelling interest of the state, then “ALL” of the services provided by the county on a routine and ordinary basis have to be provided under some other statute. The county has to have statutory authority for everything it does, and if the authority doesn’t exist, the county cannot perform that function or provide that service.

    My interpretation is that, for only those purposes stated, the county can do all thing necessary, including purchase equipment, purchase buildings and land, procure supplies and apparatus, train, hire people, and do all things necessary in the event that they are called upon under the declaration of a disaster, however, short of that declaration, they may not respond to an emergency pursuant to this chapter. Does that sound reasonably stable as an argument?

  59. Sonny Griffin

    Butch,

    The most important thing to remember in this discussion is that Wilson County has absolutely no authority to furnish emergency services of any kind under the present ems structure that we have today.

    That authority was given to the “County Wide Fire Department” by vote of the county commission and then that authority was turned over to WEMA, an existing governmental agency at that time. All by vote of the commission, all completely legal.

    5-17-101. Formation.

    (a) 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.

    (b) The powers and duties of the county-wide fire department may be delegated by the county legislative body or other governing body to an existing agency.

    That existing agency was WEMA.

    When those powers and duties were delegated to WEMA, WEMA essentially became the county-wide fire department. The county-wide fire department exists only in the embodiment of WEMA.

    5-17-102. Powers and duties.

    (a) With the specific exceptions relating to metropolitan governments provided for in this section, the county-wide fire department is empowered to do all things necessary to provide coordinated fire protection to all areas of the county, including, but not limited to:(a very long list of powers)

    Note that the above code says that the “county-wide fire department is empowered” not the county or any other entity. The powers and duties of the county-wide fire department were delegated to WEMA.

    As far as WEMA’s authority goes, it is enormous. Don’t forget, it is a governmental agency. It has been delegated certain powers and it can exercise most of those powers without the permission of anyone, including the county.

    As long as WEMA does not exceed the scope of its enabling legislation, it can do anything it wants to.

    When it (WEMA) decided to provide emergency services according to its empowerment to do so, those services became part of WEMA (county-wide fire department). That’s the way it has always been done. WEMA and only WEMA has the power to provide those services.

    Therefore, you cannot separate emergency services from WEMA and hand them to the county or anybody else. Remember, the county-wide fire department (WEMA) has the authority to provide those services, not the county. If WEMA chooses not to do so, then, I suppose, the county can enact legislation to provide the services.

  60. Butch Huber

    I have thought this through more. This is about constitutional rights. The civil defense statutes are intended for when a state of emergency has been declared and only for when a state of emergency has been declared. Well, to be exact, all preparations to be capable of responding to emergencies declared under “state of emergency” declarations, are authorized. However, unless there is a state of emergency declared, responding to a fire or some other emergency is no authorized under the civil defense statutes. A declaration of a state of emergency, at least by the governor, provides him or her with unbelievable powers when you contrast them against our constitution and the Bill of Rights. If those powers are delegated to the mayor of a county or the mayor of a city they too would have unbelievable powers in a state of emergency. Such powers are not intended to supersede our constitution, but rather to allow quick response in emergency situations. I don’t agree with many of the powers given in a state of emergency, however, I certainly don’t agree with an organization operating as if there is a state of emergency declared 24/7/365. This issue has transcended the issue of fire protection, it now has to do with constitutional rights and our way of life. Government has to operate within the confines of laws. It has to operate within our Constitution and our Bill of Rights. The Constitution of the United States cannot be legally superseded, though they do it anyway. They do it through executive orders. The County Resolution that authorized the change of names from Wilson County Civil Defense to Wilson County Emergency Management Agency is County Resolution 91-12-4. It says, in pertinent part, “This action is taken to reflect a name change consistent with the State and Federal Agencies which are known as the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency and the Federal Emergency Management Agency…” Our Wilson County Emergency Management Agency is subordinate to the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency, which appears to be subordinate to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. If you want a shocker, google FEMA powers. Sift through the scariest stuff if you want, however, my point here is to show you that FEMA has enormously broad powers that I doubt that you ever imagined an organization would have in this country. The only way that the county could provide emergency services 24/7/365 under the Civil Defense Statutes is for there to be perpetual disasters occurring in this county. Guys, unless we all agree that it would be a good thing for politicians to be in a posture where they can usurp our constitutional rights, we all have to agree that there needs to be a change. Nothing I have ever written about is more serious than what I am showing you here and now.
    Do I think the county has intentionally established this in the manner in which they have so that they can keep open the power to suspend our constitutional rights, I think that they have done things the way that they have so that Lebanon could have its way and so that some very influential people in this county get their way. I believe that the things that they have done for the purposes I have stated have lead to a situation such as this. Upon being notified of this, the governor of the State of Tennessee should send notice to the county to cease and desist. Their use of the civil defense statutes as legal authorization to operate emergency services on an ongoing, non-state of emergency is obviously an overreach. However, if the governor or the county fail to remedy this issue it should be taken as a sign that it may have been intentional. Taken to the extreme, if every county and every city in this nation were to operate in the same manner and fashion as this county has been acting….man, I don’t even want to get into what the implications of that could mean….but it would be very, very bad.

  61. Butch Huber

    Sonny, you bring up an interesting point, however, WEMA is an agency established pursuant to TCA 58-2-101 through 58-2-124. Its enabling legislation is all pursuant to those statutes and it can only do those things for which it was authorized to be established. It appears that the only time that “WEMA”, as contemplated by TCA 58-2-102 through 124, is when a declaration of a state of emergency is in effect. From the way that I understand the civil defense laws, the county (WEMA) has the authority to do all things necessary in order to respond to disasters pursuant to TCA 58-2-101 through 58-2-124, which means disasters that exceed the resources or are likely to exceed the resources of the local jurisdiction. Picking up grand mom and putting her back in her chair, fixing little timmy’s knee when he falls off a bike, putting out a skillet fire, or extracting a person from a wreck, while all important things, do not exceed local jurisdictional capabilities nor do they constitute a state of emergency. The State Attorney General has opined that they can’t provide emergency services in the construction that they have it pursuant to TCA 58-2-101 et seq. I think even that needs to be shored up by saying that the county can never, ever, under any circumstances, ever provide services under WEMA, pursuant to TCA 58-2-101 et. seq., unless and until there is a state of emergency. That state of emergency may be called by the governor, his appointees, and those who he delegates authority to, however, if any of them calls a state of emergency, such emergency must fit the definitions contained in the statutes and they must be devastating enough that the need to possess powers to suspend “ANY” law would likely be needed.

    Because they delegated the fire department to WEMA does not mean that they are “Authorized” to delegate it to “WEMA”. WEMA is an organization that is statutorily authorized for a very specific purpose within very strict guidelines. WEMA is not statutorily authorized to operate a countywide fire department. So, whereas the Countywide Fire Department laws may be liberally construed to allow WEMA to run the countywide fire department, WEMA cannot be liberally construed to all it to do so. I think the two must be separated except in times of states of emergency, then the Countywide Fire Department comes under control of the Countywide Fire Department.

    The distinctions here are important beyond our wildest dreams once you recognize other factors that I have not gone into.

  62. Sonny Griffin

    Butch,

    The county is not providing any emergency services.

    Emergency services are provided by the county-wide fire department in accordance with Tennessee Statutes applying to counties. These statutes are 5-17-101 and 5-17-102.

    The county and the county-wide fire department are two totally separate entities. The county-wide fire department has powers given to it by the Tennessee State Legislature.

    Those powers have been lawfully delegated or assigned to WEMA.

    The county is not using civil defense statutes to operate emergency services.

  63. Butch Huber

    Sonny, WEMA was the civil defense force, it changed its name to become compliant with Tennessee Emergency Management Agency and Federal Emergency Management Agency. This occurred in 1991. WEMA is an EMA, which gets its authority to exist from TCA 58-2-101 through 124. The County has no other authorization for the establishment of WEMA. What the Attorney General was saying in U92-134 was that WEMA, was established under the Civil Defense Statutes, but that what the county was doing with it was a countywide fire department, which essentially made WEMA a Countywide Fire Department. However, I am saying that the county never could delegate the powers of the countywide fire department to WEMA because WEMA cannot operate the way that a Countywide Fire Department operations. They Cannot delegate the Duties of the Countywide fire department to WEMA anymore than they could to the county Clerk, neither are authorized to operate a countywide fire department. Any operation that derives its authority through our state government, including Wilson County and any department of the county or any organization established by the county, has to comport with the laws of this state. EMA’s, whether county EMA’s or City EMA’s have to be set up according to very strict guidelines. One of those guidelines is that they only have authority to operate, meaning respond, during declared states of emergency.

  64. Butch Huber

    To all my radiofree friends.

    In 1991, the Wilson County Commission approved Wilson County Resolution 91-12-4, which says:

    Resolution of the board of Commissioners of Wilson County, Tennessee
    Authorizing and approving the Lebanon-Wilson County Civil Defense to Change their Name to the Wilson County Emergency Management Agency.

    BE IT RESOLVED by the Board of County Commissioners of Wilson County, Tennessee that the Lebanon-Wilson County Civil Defense is hereby authorized and approved to change it’s name to the Wilson County Emergency Management Agency effective upon the passage of this Resolution.
    This action is taken to reflect a name change consistent with the State and Federal Agencies which are known as the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency and the Federal Emergency Management Agency and is taken after being assured by the Regional Director of the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency that this name change will not affect the organizational structure, the appointment of the director, nor the Federal funding that Wilson County receives.

    I have some immediate questions about this, starting with what were they doing with a Lebanon-Wilson County Civil Defense anyway? Secondly, do they somehow still operate in some joint operational capacity, if not, when did that change because this resolution didn’t change that?

    Regardless, I will move on.

    Wilson County is required by the General Assembly to have an Emergency Management Agency pursuant to TCA §§58-2-101–58-2-124. If WEMA is not that agency, then where is that agency? WEMA, of course, is that agency.

    The Tennessee Emergency Management Agency is a statewide organization that is established to prepare the state, through EMA’s, to be prepared and capable of handling disasters of catastrophic, major and minor scale. Now, you might say well, WEMA does respond to minor emergencies. The definition of “minor” in the chapter that deals with Civil Defense says that it means disasters that local jurisdictions can handle with only a little bit of assistance from state and federal governments. Here are the three definitions:

    (A) “Catastrophic disaster” means a disaster that will require massive state and federal assistance, including immediate military involvement;

    (B) “Major disaster” means a disaster that will likely exceed local capabilities and require a broad range of state and federal assistance; and

    (C) “Minor disaster” means a disaster that is likely to be within the response capabilities of local government and to result in only a minimal need for state or federal assistance;

    The key there, I believe, is that there is still a need for state or federal assistance. You see, the civil defense statutes are not intended for routine and ordinary provision of emergency services and that is clearly pointed out in U92-134.

    This is part of U92-134:

    According to the opinion request, the Wilson County Emergency Management Agency is designated to perform many of the functions listed under T.C.A. §58-2-101(1) (1989), which include, but are not limited to, fire protection. T.C.A. §58-2-101 is part of the statutes on civil defense. Under T.C.A. §§58-2-117 and 58-2-122 (1989), local governments can set up local civil defense organizations and make appropriations to pay their expenses. T.C.A. §58-2-101(1) defines “civil defense” as follows:
    “Civil defense” means the preparation for and the carrying out of all emergency functions, other than functions for which military forces are primarily responsible to prevent, minimize and repair injury and damage resulting from disasters, enemy attack, sabotage or other hostile action, or from riot, mob violence, power failure, energy emergency, or the threatened or impending happening of any of the above.

    This subsection then lists the functions included: One of the listed functions is fire fighting services. The definition of “Disaster” set out in T.C.A. §58-2-101(3) states, in pertinent part: Disaster means any hurricane, tornado, storm, flood, high water, wind-driven water, earthquake, drought, fire, or other natural catastrophe resulting in substantial damage, hardship, suffering, possible loss of life, or other actual harm to the health, safety, or welfare of the citizens of the state of Tennessee.

    While civil defense organizations are authorized to provide fire fighting services, it is the opinion of this office that the civil defense provisions do not cover regular fire protection services such as those provided by Wilson County Emergency Management Agency. The definitions in T.C.A. §58-2-101 indicate that civil defense functions are aimed at addressing emergencies of great proportions. T.C.A. §58-2-102 (1989), which sets out the purposes of the civil defense chapter, refers to the “existing possibility of the occurrence of disaster of unprecedented size and destructiveness.” T.C.A. §58-2-102(a). It is the opinion of this office that the Civil Defense provisions were not intended to give counties a way to circumvent the requirements of T.C.A. §§5-17-101—5-17-108 for countywide fire departments.

    Moreover, the information available to this office supports the conclusion that the Wilson County Emergency Management agency is essentially a countywide fire department as contemplated in §§5-17-101—5-17-108. The agency provides regular fire protection services for the county, as well as other emergency services. T.C.A. gives county-wide fire departments the authority to provide emergency services other than fire protection. See, e.g., T.C.A. §5-17-102(a) (9), (11), (14).

    T.C.A. §5-17-102(a) (9) Provide and maintain an emergency ambulance, first aid and rescue service;

    T.C.A. §5-17-102(a) (11) Give aid anywhere in the county in the event of fire, flood or other disaster;

    T.C.A. §5-17-102(a) (14) Set up a central communications network connecting all fire and emergency units in the county;

    The attorney general clearly indicated that regular fire protection services cannot be provided under the Civil Defense Statutes. The attorney General clearly stated that WEMA was established according to the Civil Defense Statutes. The attorney general clearly indicated that what Wilson County had was in reality a countywide fire department.

    Many of the provisions of the Civil Defense statutes have changed since this opinion, however, this appears to be the last opinion regarding this topic.

    I do not believe that the Attorney General went far enough with his analysis.

    Let’s look at some key parts of the Civil Defense statutes together:

    58-2-102. Legislative intent.

    (a) The general assembly finds and declares that the state is vulnerable to a wide range of emergencies, including natural, technological, terrorist acts, and manmade disasters, all of which threaten the life, health, and safety of its people; damage and destroy property; disrupt services and everyday business and recreational activities; and impede economic growth and development. The general assembly further finds that this vulnerability is exacerbated by the growth in the state’s population, in the elderly population, in the number of seasonal vacationers, and in the number of persons with special needs. This growth has greatly complicated the state’s ability to coordinate its emergency management resources and activities.

    (b) It is the intent of the general assembly to reduce the vulnerability of the people and property of this state; to prepare for efficient evacuation or shelter-in-place of threatened or affected persons; to provide for the rapid and orderly provision of relief to persons and for the restoration of services and property; and to provide for the coordination of activities relating to emergency preparedness, response, recovery, and mitigation among and between agencies and officials of this state, with similar agencies and officials of other states, with local and federal governments, with interstate organizations, and with the private sector.

    (c) It is further the intent of the general assembly to promote the state’s emergency preparedness, response, recovery, and mitigation capabilities through enhanced coordination, long-term planning, and adequate funding. State policy for responding to disasters is to support local emergency response efforts. In the case of a major or catastrophic disaster, however, the needs of residents and communities will likely be greater than local resources. In these situations, the state must be capable of providing effective, coordinated, and timely support to communities and the public. Therefore, the general assembly hereby determines and declares that the provisions of this chapter fulfill a compelling state interest.

    HISTORY: Acts 2000, ch. 946, § 1; 2002, ch. 849, § 7a.

    I want to take a look at a very important part of this statute so I reposted it below:

    “State policy for responding to disasters is to support local emergency response efforts. In the case of a major or catastrophic disaster, however, the needs of residents and communities will likely be greater than local resources. In these situations, the state must be capable of providing effective, coordinated, and timely support to communities and the public. Therefore, the general assembly hereby determines and declares that the provisions of this chapter fulfill a compelling state interest.”

    Let’s narrow down a little:

    “Therefore, the general assembly hereby determines and declares that the provisions of this chapter fulfill a compelling state interest.”

    Now, let’s put it under a microscope:

    “the provisions of this chapter fulfill a compelling state interest”

    Narrower:

    “fulfill a compelling state interest”

    and finally:

    “compelling state interest”

    You should know that the word compelling here use to be “Important”. Why would they make such a minor change? Because it isn’t minor, it is major. As a matter of fact, I am not sure it could be more major. I don’t believe the term “important state interest” means a thing in a court of law, however, a “compelling state interest”, well, that is a horse of a different color. A compelling interest means that the state has an interest that is significant enough that it can suspend laws and do other things that it ordinarily would not have the authority to do if the need to do so exists. An important state interest, on the other hand, really means nothing (I believe).

    This is very important information. You see….well….let’s proceed and we will come back to that. Now let’s look at “policy and purpose”.

    58-2-103. Policy and purpose.

    (a) Because of the existing and continuing possibility of the occurrence of emergencies and disasters resulting from natural, technological, or manmade causes, including acts of terrorism and the recovery therefrom; in order to ensure that preparations of this state will be adequate to deal with, reduce vulnerability to, and recover from such emergencies and disasters; to provide for the common defense and to protect the public peace, health, and safety; and to preserve the lives and property of the people of the state, it is hereby found and declared to be necessary to:

    (1) Create a state emergency management agency to be known as the “Tennessee emergency management agency” (TEMA), to authorize the creation of local organizations for emergency management in the political subdivisions of the state, and to authorize cooperation with the federal government and the governments of other states;

    (2) Confer upon the governor, TEMA, and the governing body of each political subdivision of the state the emergency powers provided herein;

    (3) Provide for the rendering of mutual aid among the political subdivisions of the state, with other states, and with the federal government with respect to carrying out all emergency management functions and responsibilities;

    (4) Authorize the establishment of such organizations and the development and employment of such measures as are necessary and appropriate to carry out the provisions of this chapter; and

    (5) Provide the means to assist in the prevention or mitigation of emergencies which may be caused or aggravated by inadequate planning for, and regulation of, public and private facilities and land use, not to exclude flood plain management.

    (b) It is further declared to be the purpose of this chapter and the policy of the state that all emergency management functions of the state be coordinated to the maximum extent with comparable functions of the federal government, including its various departments, agencies of other states and localities, and private agencies of every type, to the end that the most effective preparation and use may be made of the manpower, resources, and facilities of the nation for dealing with any emergency that may occur.

    HISTORY: Acts 2000, ch. 946, § 1.

    Now, when you read the policy and purpose, you have to read it contextually, meaning you have to read it with an eye toward the legislative intent. If you don’t do that you misinterpret what is being said. What did the legislative intent identify? That there was a compelling state interest. That is what gives the general assembly the power to provide the governor with such tremendous powers.

    I want to show you something:

    58-1-112. Martial rule — Proclamation by governor — Procedure.

    (a) Whenever any portion of the national guard is employed pursuant to § 58-1-106, the governor, if in the governor’s judgment the maintenance of law and order will thereby be promoted, may, by proclamation, declare the county or city in which troops are serving, or any specified portion thereof, to be under martial rule.

    (b) Following the governor’s martial rule proclamation, the governor may promulgate the following orders to protect life and property or to bring the emergency situation under control:

    (1) The establishment of a curfew and the prohibition and control of pedestrian and vehicular traffic, except essential emergency vehicles and personnel;

    (2) The designation of specific zones within which the occupance and use of buildings and the ingress and egress of vehicles and persons may be prohibited or regulated;

    (3) The regulation and closing of places of amusement and assembly;

    (4) The prohibition of the sale and distribution of alcoholic beverages;

    (5) The prohibition and control of the presence of persons on public streets;

    (6) The regulation and control of the possession, storage, display, sale, transport and use of firearms, other dangerous weapons and ammunition; provided, that nothing in this subdivision (b)(6) shall be construed as authorizing confiscation of lawfully possessed firearms and ammunition during any period of martial rule; and

    (7) The regulation and control of the possession, storage, display, sale, transport and use of explosives, and flammable materials and liquids.

    (c) Such orders shall be effective from the time and in the manner prescribed in such orders and shall be given to the press, radio and television media for publication and broadcast.

    (d) Nothing in this section shall be construed to authorize a declaration of martial law, in the sense of the unrestricted power of military officers, or others, to dispose of the persons, liberties or property of the citizen.

    HISTORY: Acts 1970, ch. 596, § 11; T.C.A., § 7-112; Acts 2009, ch. 288, § 1.

    Sec. 25. Martial law — Punishment.

    That no citizen of this State, except such as are employed in the army of the United States, or militia in actual service, shall be subjected to punishment under the martial or military law. That martial law, in the sense of the unrestricted power of military officers, or others, to dispose of the persons, liberties or property of the citizen, is inconsistent with the principles of free government, and is not confided to any department of the government of this State.

    Guys, 58-1-112. Martial rule — Proclamation by governor — Procedure is in the very same title within T.C.A. as the Civil defense statutes.

    Now let’s look at the powers of the governor under the civil defense statutes.

    58-2-107. Emergency management powers of the governor.

    (a) (1) The governor is responsible for addressing the dangers presented to this state and its people by emergencies. In the event of an emergency beyond local control, the governor, or, in the governor’s absence, the governor’s successor as provided by law, may assume direct operational control over all or any part of the emergency management functions within this state, and such person has the power through proper process of law to carry out the provisions of this chapter. The governor is authorized to delegate such powers as the governor may deem prudent.

    (2) Pursuant to the authority vested in the governor under subdivision (a) (1), the governor may issue executive orders, proclamations, and rules and may amend or rescind them. Such executive orders, proclamations, and rules have the force and effect of law.

    (b) The governor or the governor’s designee, shall declare a state of emergency or a disaster declaration in one (1) of two (2) ways:

    (1) By executive order or proclamation; or

    (2) By the activation of the TEMP.

    These two (2) types of threats may be declared by the governor if the governor finds an emergency has occurred or the occurrence of threat thereof is imminent. The state of emergency shall continue until the governor finds that the threat or danger has been dealt with to the extent that the emergency conditions no longer exist and the governor terminates the state of emergency by executive order or proclamation, but no state of emergency may continue for longer than sixty (60) days unless renewed by the governor. All executive orders or proclamations issued under this section shall indicate the nature of the emergency, the area or areas threatened, and the conditions which have brought the emergency about or which make possible its termination. An executive order or proclamation shall be promptly disseminated by means calculated to bring its contents to the attention of the general public; and, unless the circumstances attendant upon the emergency prevent or impede such filing, the order or proclamation shall be filed promptly with the department of state and in the office of the chief executive officer in each county to which the order or proclamation applies.

    (c) An executive order or proclamation of a state of emergency shall:

    (1) Activate the emergency mitigation, response, and recovery aspects of the state, local, and interjurisdictional emergency management plans applicable to the political subdivision or area in question;

    (2) Be authority for the deployment and use of any forces to which the plan or plans apply and for the use or distribution of any supplies, equipment, and materials and facilities assembled, stockpiled, or arranged to be made available pursuant to this chapter or any other provision of law relating to emergencies; and

    (3) Identify whether the state of emergency is due to a minor, major, or catastrophic disaster.

    (d) During the continuance of a state emergency, the governor is commander in chief of the Tennessee national guard and of all other forces available for emergency duty. To the greatest extent practicable, the governor shall delegate or assign command authority by prior arrangement embodied in appropriate executive orders or rules, but nothing in this section restricts the governor’s authority to do so by orders issued at the time of the emergency.

    (e) In addition to any other powers conferred upon the governor by law, the governor may:

    (1) Suspend the provisions of any law, order, rule or regulation prescribing the procedures for conduct of state business or the orders or rules or regulations of any state agency, if strict compliance with the provisions of any such law, order, rule, or regulation would in any way prevent, hinder, or delay necessary action in coping with the emergency;

    (2) Utilize all available resources of the state government and of each political subdivision of the state, as reasonably necessary to cope with the emergency;

    (3) Transfer the direction, personnel, or functions of state departments and agencies or units thereof for the purpose of performing or facilitating emergency services;

    (4) Subject to any applicable requirements for compensation, commandeer or utilize any private property, which term shall not be construed to include firearms, ammunition, or firearm or ammunition components, if the governor finds this necessary to cope with the emergency;

    (5) Direct and compel the evacuation of all or part of the population from any stricken or threatened area within the state if the governor deems this action necessary for the preservation of life or other emergency mitigation, response, or recovery;

    (6) Prescribe routes, modes of transportation, and destinations in connection with evacuation;

    (7) Control ingress and egress to and from an emergency area, the movement of persons within the area, and the occupancy of premises therein;

    (8) Suspend or limit the sale, dispensing, or transportation of alcoholic beverages, explosives, or combustibles, which terms shall not be construed to include firearms, ammunition, or firearm or ammunition components;

    (9) Make provision for the availability and use of temporary emergency housing;

    (10) Take effective measures for limiting or suspending lighting devices and appliances, gas and water mains, electric power distribution, and all other utility services in the general public interest;

    (11) Take measures concerning the conduct of civilians, the movement and cessation of movement of pedestrian and vehicular traffic prior to, during, and subsequent to drills and actual or threatened emergencies, the calling of public meetings and gatherings, and the evacuation and reception of civilian population, as provided in the TEMP and political subdivisions thereof; and

    (12) Authorize the use of forces already mobilized as the result of an executive order, rule, or proclamation to assist the private citizens of the state in clean up and recovery operations during emergencies when proper permission to enter onto or into private property has been obtained from the property owner.

    (f) The governor shall take such action and give such direction to state and local law enforcement officers and agencies as may be reasonable and necessary for the purpose of securing compliance with the provisions of this chapter and with the orders and rules made pursuant thereto.

    (g) The governor shall employ such measures and give such directions to the department of health and department of human services, division of vocational rehabilitation, as may be reasonable and necessary for the purpose of securing compliance with the provisions of this chapter or with the findings or recommendations of such agency by reason of conditions arising from emergencies or threats of emergency.

    (h) The governor shall delegate emergency responsibilities to the officers and agencies of the state and of the political subdivisions thereof prior to an emergency or threat of an emergency, and shall utilize the services and facilities of existing officers and agencies of the state and of the political subdivisions thereof, including their personnel and other resources, as the primary emergency management forces of the state, and all such officers and agencies shall cooperate with and extend their services and facilities to the agency, as it may require.

    (i) The governor and the agency shall establish agencies and offices and appoint executive, professional, technical, clerical and other personnel as may be necessary to carry out the provisions of this chapter.

    (j) The governor shall formulate and execute plans and rules for the control of traffic in order to provide for the rapid and safe movement or evacuation over public highways and streets of people, troops, or vehicles and materials for national defense or for use in any defense industry, and may coordinate the activities of the departments or agencies of the state and the political subdivisions thereof concerned directly or indirectly with public highways and streets in a manner which will effectuate such plans.

    (k) The governor may delegate to the director of TEMA the authority to declare a state of emergency in order that certain commercial vehicles engaged in the distribution of electric power, the supply of fuel, or telecommunications services to residences and businesses may be considered to be participating in an emergency relief effort for the purpose of the federal hours-of-service regulations promulgated by the federal motor carrier safety administration. Pursuant to the delegation of authority granted by this subsection (k), the director of TEMA may declare a state of emergency prospectively in anticipation of an emergency.

    (l) (1) If the governor of Tennessee declares an emergency in response to a catastrophic or major disaster, voluntary health care providers, including hospitals and community mental health care centers, participating in the emergency management assistance compact or southern regional emergency management assistance compact are immune from liability in providing the health care to victims or evacuees of the catastrophic or major disaster, as long as the services are provided within the limits of the provider’s license, certification or authorization, unless an act or omission was the result of gross negligence or willful misconduct.

    (2) If additional medical resources are required, the governor, by executive order, may provide limited liability protection to health care providers, including hospitals and community mental health care centers and those licensed, certified or authorized under titles 33, 63 or 68, and who render services within the limits of their license, certification or authorization to victims or evacuees of such emergencies; provided, however, that this protection may not include any act or omission caused by gross negligence or willful misconduct.

    (3) The duration of the protection provided by this subsection (l) shall not exceed thirty (30) days, but may be extended by the governor by executive order for an additional thirty (30) days, if required to ensure the provision of emergency medical services in response to the catastrophic or major disaster.

    (m) During any state of emergency, major disaster or natural disaster, the state, a political subdivision or a public official shall not prohibit nor impose additional restrictions on the lawful possession, transfer, sale, transport, carrying, storage, display or use of firearms and ammunition or firearm and ammunition components.

    HISTORY: Acts 2000, ch. 946, § 1; 2004, ch. 487, § 1; 2006, ch. 560, § 1; 2007, ch. 129, § 1; 2010, ch. 885, § 1.

    When can the governor take control and exercise his rights under this chapter?

    “In the event of an emergency beyond local control, the governor, or, in the governor’s absence, the governor’s successor as provided by law, may assume direct operational control over all or any part of the emergency management functions within this state, and such person has the power through proper process of law to carry out the provisions of this chapter.”

    Can he do it at any other time? “Not pursuant to this chapter”.

    This statute essentially gives the governor the powers of a God. Read below!

    “(2) Pursuant to the authority vested in the governor under subdivision (a) (1), the governor may issue executive orders, proclamations, and rules and may amend or rescind them. Such executive orders, proclamations, and rules have the force and effect of law.”

    Under these statutes, when an state of emergency has been declared, the Governor is a dictator.

    Next we find how the governor can declare a state of emergency and when:

    (b) The governor or the governor’s designee, shall declare a state of emergency or a disaster declaration in one (1) of two (2) ways:

    (1) By executive order or proclamation; or

    (2) By the activation of the TEMP.

    These two (2) types of threats may be declared by the governor if the governor finds an emergency has occurred or the occurrence of threat thereof is imminent. The state of emergency shall continue until the governor finds that the threat or danger has been dealt with to the extent that the emergency conditions no longer exist and the governor terminates the state of emergency by executive order or proclamation, but no state of emergency may continue for longer than sixty (60) days unless renewed by the governor.

    Wow, the governor becomes the commander in chief of the Tennessee national guard and all other forces available for emergency duty!

    (d) During the continuance of a state emergency, the governor is commander in chief of the Tennessee national guard and of all other forces available for emergency duty.

    Now let’s see if the governor can suspend or usurp your constitutional, God given rights:

    (e) In addition to any other powers conferred upon the governor by law, the governor may:

    (1) Suspend the provisions of any law, order, rule or regulation prescribing the procedures for conduct of state business or the orders or rules or regulations of any state agency, if strict compliance with the provisions of any such law, order, rule, or regulation would in any way prevent, hinder, or delay necessary action in coping with the emergency;

    Suspend “ANY” law, order rule or regulation….wow!

    (2) Utilize all available resources of the state government and of each political subdivision of the state, as reasonably necessary to cope with the emergency;

    (3) Transfer the direction, personnel, or functions of state departments and agencies or units thereof for the purpose of performing or facilitating emergency services;

    (4) Subject to any applicable requirements for compensation, commandeer or utilize any private property, which term shall not be construed to include firearms, ammunition, or firearm or ammunition components, if the governor finds this necessary to cope with the emergency;

    Wow, they can take all of your belongings except for your weapons and ammo! Your home, your land, your cattle, pigs, chickens, food, clothing, supplies, etc, are all subject to being taken from you. They have to compensate you for them, but they can take them from you.

    (5) Direct and compel the evacuation of all or part of the population from any stricken or threatened area within the state if the governor deems this action necessary for the preservation of life or other emergency mitigation, response, or recovery;

    He can tell you where you have to go….

    (6) Prescribe routes, modes of transportation, and destinations in connection with evacuation;

    …how you are going to get there….

    (7) Control ingress and egress to and from an emergency area, the movement of persons within the area, and the occupancy of premises therein;

    …where you can go and where you can’t go and who can occupy premises and who can’t…

    (8) Suspend or limit the sale, dispensing, or transportation of alcoholic beverages, explosives, or combustibles, which terms shall not be construed to include firearms, ammunition, or firearm or ammunition components;

    ….he can suspend the sale of alcoholic beverages (which in some cases could be used as fuel), explosives (which if the government ran amuck we would want to have possession of in order to restore our constitution), Combustibles (that includes gasoline). They can’t take our guns or ammo though, which is a good thing….

    (9) Make provision for the availability and use of temporary emergency housing;

    ….this could be a nice home, a condo, or….it could be an interment facility…..

    (10) Take effective measures for limiting or suspending lighting devices and appliances, gas and water mains, electric power distribution, and all other utility services in the general public interest;

    …..he can shut off your utilities……

    (11) Take measures concerning the conduct of civilians, the movement and cessation of movement of pedestrian and vehicular traffic prior to, during, and subsequent to drills and actual or threatened emergencies, the calling of public meetings and gatherings, and the evacuation and reception of civilian population, as provided in the TEMP and political subdivisions thereof; and

    …he can take measures concerning the conduct of civilians….what?…..

    …he can keep you from moving or make you move…

    (12) Authorize the use of forces already mobilized as the result of an executive order, rule, or proclamation to assist the private citizens of the state in clean up and recovery operations during emergencies when proper permission to enter onto or into private property has been obtained from the property owner.

    These are very sweeping powers that are authorized in these statutes, powers way beyond what is need to provide regular emergency services.

    Clearly the civil defense statutes that were used to establish WEMA are not the appropriate statues for providing regular emergency services.

  65. Sonny Griffin

    From 92-134:

    “While civil defense organizations are authorized to provide fire fighting services, it is the opinion of this office that the civil defense provisions do not cover regular fire protection services such as those provided by Wilson County Emergency Management Agency. The definitions in T.C.A. §58-2-101 indicate that civil defense functions are aimed at addressing emergencies of great proportions.”

    The Attorney General seems to be saying that civil defense statutes have no role in WEMA. They are aimed at “emergencies of great proportions”.

    He goes on to say:

    “Moreover, the information available to this office supports the conclusion that the Wilson County Emergency Management agency is essentially a countywide fire department as contemplated in §§5-17-101—5-17-108. The agency provides regular fire protection services for the county, as well as other emergency services. T.C.A. gives county-wide fire departments the authority to provide emergency services other than fire protection. See, e.g., T.C.A. §5-17-102(a) (9), (11), (14).”

    The Attorney General seems to be saying that WEMA = County Wide Fire Department. We’ve been saying that all along. WEMA is the embodiment of the County Wide Fire Department.

    He also says that WEMA is operating under Tennessee State Statutes §§5-17-101 – 5-17-108.

  66. Butch Huber

    Sonny, what you are saying is true, however, WEMA is the agency contemplated in T.C.A. 58-2-101 through 58-2-124. They have to disconnect the Countywide Fire Department from WEMA. WEMA is not the countywide fire department, it is the Emergency Management Agency contemplated in the civil defense statutes.

    Before WEMA, all of the emergency services were part of the same entity, Civil Defense. They then changed the name of civil defense to Wilson County Emergency Management Agency. They wanted to keep the same structure, however, regardless of what the regional director of the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency may have told them, they can’t. They cannot provide regular emergency services through WEMA. WEMA is established for a very specific set of circumstances. The countywide fire department was later established for purposes pursuant to TCA 5-17-101 and was empowered and tasked with all the powers and duties contained and enumerated in 5-17-102 inclusive. The county then delegated the powers and duties of that agency to WEMA, however, WEMA cannot legally take on those duties and powers, therefore, the act of delegating those powers and duties was unlawful and therefore null and void. Therefore, WEMA is not the Countywide Fire department, the countywide fire department is the countywide fire department, and WEMA is WEMA.

  67. Butch Huber

    If WEMA is not the agency contemplated in TCA 58-2-101 through 58-2-124, then the county has been derelict in its obligations under the law to establish an emergency management agency pursuant to TCA 58-2-101 through 58-2-124 and the Director of TEMA and the Governor are also derelict in their duties to ensure that an EMA is established in Wilson County. Surely none of them are going to assert that WEMA is not that agency. There are so many requirements on an EMA, so much reporting, so many standards, etc., that it would be absurd for the county to suggest that WEMA is really the Countywide Fire Department and that we don’t have an EMA. That would never fly.

    Sonny, this sets things up so that the county must establish fire districts. I will post what I have written to the city commission in my most recent letter. I think you in particular will like this letter. In it I use what you discovered regarding the separation of the Countywide Fire Department as a separate agency established by statute from the county commission. I think I have a pretty clear picture of all of this now. Enjoy.

    I have discovered a fundamental, foundational, and primary reason that Wilson County may not operate WEMA in such as fashion and manner under which it provides regular emergency services…because it isn’t legal. In the next several pages I intend to prove that to you to a point where that fact can no longer be denied.

    While the County is authorized to delegate the powers and duties of the Countywide Fire Department to another existing agency, the Wilson County Emergency Management Agency is not authorized to act in that capacity.

    In 1991, Wilson County changed the name of Wilson County Civil Defense to “Wilson County Emergency Management Agency”. It is stated in their resolution that authorized this name change that they were doing so for the purpose of becoming consistent with the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

    In 1992, the Attorney General for the State of Tennessee at that time opined;

    “While civil defense organizations are authorized to provide fire fighting services, it is the opinion of this office that the civil defense provisions do not cover regular fire protection services such as those provided by the Wilson County Emergency Management Agency. The definitions of T.C.A. 58-2-101 indicate that civil defense functions are aimed at addressing emergencies of great proportions. T.C.A. §58-2-102 (1989), which sets out the purposes of the civil defense chapter, refers to “the existing possibility of the occurrence of disasters of unprecedented size and destructiveness.” T.C.A. §58-2-102(a). It is the opinion of this office that the way to circumvent the requirements of T.C.A. §§5-17-101—5-17-108 for county-wide fire departments.
    Morover, the information available to this office supports the conclusion that the Wilson County Emergency Management Agency is essentially a County-wide Fire Department as contemplated by T.C.A. 5-17-101—5-17-108. The agency provides regular fire protection services for the county, as well as other emergency services. T.C.A. §5-17-102 gives County-wide fire departments the authority to provide emergency services other than fire protection. See, e.g., T.C.A. §5-17-102(a)(9), (11), (14).”

    T.C.A. 5-17-102 (a) (9) Provide and maintain an emergency ambulance, first aid and rescue service;

    T.C.A. 5-17-102 (a) (11) Give aid anywhere in the county in the event of fire, flood or other disaster;

    T.C.A. 5-17-102 (a) (14) Set up a central communications network connecting all fire and emergency units in the county;

    While I do agree, for what my opinion is worth to you, with the Attorney General’s opinion in U92-134, I don’t think his opinion went far enough. The civil defense statutes are not intended to establish an organization that provides regular services of any type. They were enacted to establish a management and response organization that responds to emergencies under which there has been declared a state of emergency. I believe that the provisions of the Civil Defense Statutes only allow for “active response” during times when a state of emergency has been declared pursuant to the civil defense chapter. I believe a detailed examination of the statutes will prove I am correct.

    The opinion request in U92-134 was made by Bob Rochelle. Bob Rochelle was also one of the drafters of the amendment to the countywide fire department statutes in 1998/1999. This shows long-term involvement in this matter by Bob Rochelle. It appears that Bob Rochelle, for whatever reasons, was very involved in this process.

    Sometime between 1992 and 1995, Wilson County was sued in two lawsuits regarding the way in which it was providing fire protection services or fire suppression (I have not seen those lawsuits, so I am not sure their specific nature). In response to those lawsuits, the county established the countywide fire department.

    During my conversation with Mayor Hutto last week, he stated that before the lawsuits, all of the emergency services provided by the county were together, holding his fingers up indicating the many services provided by the county. He said that after those lawsuits, the county split off fire suppression and put it under the countywide fire department. As he was saying that he bent one finger down as if to signify that it was now separate from the other services.

    Remember back to the beginning of the attorney general’s opinion where he was speaking about services that were being provided by WEMA. Remember, WEMA is the organization that the name change from “Wilson County Civil Defense” to “Wilson County emergency Management Agency” was about. The Wilson County Emergency Management Agency “is” the Emergency Management Agency for this Political Subdivision as contemplated in T.C.A. 58-2-101—58-2-124. Even the attorney general has stated that fact in his opinion.

    When can an Emergency Management Agency provide Emergency Services? The Attorney General says that they can only provide Emergency Services during times of emergencies of great proportions and during times with there are threats of disasters or disasters of unprecedented size and destructiveness. I say that they can’t respond unless a state of emergency has been declared. If you observe the statutes of the Civil Defense Chapter you will discover that during times of declared states of emergencies, the governor and the mayor of the county have unbelievable powers. The governor, and I suppose the mayor, have the power to suspend “ANY” law during a state of emergency. Clearly the needs for regular emergency response do not fall under the civil defense statutes.

    So, what does this all mean?

    In County Resolution R95-5-4, the county established the countywide fire department pursuant to T.C.A. 5-17-101 et seq and declared that that department shall have all the duties and powers enumerated and contained in T.C.A. 5-17-102 inclusive. The word “inclusive” in that resolution means that every power and duty listed in T.C.A. 5-17-102 had at that time become a responsibility of the Countywide Fire Department. They then, in the same resolution, delegated the duties and powers of the Countywide Fire Department to the Wilson County Emergency Management Agency. The county has the power to delegate the countywide fire department to another agency, however, the county does not have the power to supersede the laws of the state by tasking the Wilson County Emergency Management Agency with duties and responsibilities that the Wilson County Emergency Management Agency is not statutorily authorized to take on. Because an EMA, in this case WEMA, is not authorized by statute to respond to regular calls for emergency services, nor is it statutorily authorized to manage and operate an organization that provides regular emergency services functions, it cannot function as either the manager of a countywide fire department or as the countywide fire department itself. It cannot manage that function. It cannot serve in that capacity.

    Let’s go back to the same attorney general’s opinion and look at something vitally important. In that opinion, he says, “Under Tennessee Law, counties have only the authority expressly granted to them by statute or necessarily implied from a statute. See Bayless v. Knox County, 199 Tenn. 268, 286 S.W.D.2d 579 (1956). A county may only do those things that are expressly granted to them by statute or are necessarily implied from a statute.

    Do the Civil Defense Statutes expressly grant the county the authority to have WEMA run the Countywide Fire Department? No. The text of the statutes say nothing about WEMA running a countywide fire department.

    Laws are to be written so that a reasonable person could understand them. Can such authority to have WEMA run the Countywide Fire Department be construed by a reasonable person to be “necessarily implied” by the Civil Defense Chapter? No. In fact, it is quite the opposite. The only time that a county may operate functionally to provide emergency services assistance is during a declared state of emergency in preparation to or response from an emergency of great proportion and disasters of unprecedented size and destructiveness. In fact, under the definitions contained in the Civil Defense statutes, the need for state or federal level assistance, to at least a limited degree, must be anticipated before the powers to respond provided in the Civil Defense Chapter are activated.

    Conclusion: Wilson County is clearly operating WEMA in a manner in which it was never authorized to operate. WEMA is not authorized to manage a countywide fire department nor is it authorized to act in the capacity of a countywide fire department. The Wilson County Board of Commissioners must disconnect WEMA as the Management Agency over the Countywide Fire Department. The Countywide Fire Department must act in the capacity in which it was designed, established, and directed to act; which means that it has all the powers and duties contained and enumerated in T.C.A 5-17-101 through 5-17-108. Until such time as the county disestablishes the countywide fire department, all of the services, duties, functions, operations, and powers of the Countywide Fire Department remain, inextricably, under the Countywide Fire Department. The countywide Fire Department, by statute, is a separate agency in and of itself, and it operates under the direct control of the County Fire Chief, who is appointed by the County Mayor and confirmed by the County Commission. Even the county commission doesn’t have the power to strip the countywide fire department of any of the duties, powers, or requirements enumerated and contained in T.C.A. §§5-17-101—5-17-108. It is not within the power of the County Commission to enter into interlocal agreements with the Municipalities for the provision of fire protection services, it is within the power of the countywide fire department to enter into interlocal agreements with the municipalities for the provision of such services.

    5-17-102. Powers and duties.

    (a) With the specific exceptions relating to metropolitan governments provided for in this section, the county-wide fire department is empowered to do all things necessary to provide coordinated fire protection to all areas of the county, including, but not limited to:

    (1) Sue and be sued;

    (2) Take or acquire real or personal property of every kind, or any interest therein, within the county, by grant, purchase, gift, devise or lease, and hold, manage, occupy, dispose of, convey and encumber the same and create a leasehold interest in the same for the benefit of the county;

    (3) Exercise the right of eminent domain, but only with the consent of the county legislative body or other governing body;

    (4) Establish, equip, operate and maintain a county-wide fire department and establish and enforce regulations including, but not limited to, those for the administration, operation and maintenance thereof;

    (5) Appoint and employ necessary employees and define their qualifications, duties and responsibilities, and provide for payment in reasonable sums for such duties;

    (6) Employ counsel;

    (7) Enter into and perform all necessary contracts, including, but not limited to:

    (A) Contracts for the supply of water where necessary for fire protection;

    (B) Contract to have existing fire departments and others provide fire protection services in any area of the county, including, but not limited to:

    (i) Contracts with incorporated towns and utility districts to provide such service within or without their corporate limits;

    (ii) Contracts to provide fire protection services for any city, town, district, or any part thereof within the county;

    (C) Contracts to provide and be provided training and maintenance;

    (D) Contracts to provide and be provided all special service functions, such as arson investigation, inspection, and emergency ambulance and rescue services;

    (8) Provide and maintain all special service functions necessary for the prevention of fires, including the investigation of the cause of fires and the enforcement of regulations to prevent harmful fires and smoke;

    (9) Provide and maintain an emergency ambulance, first aid and rescue service;

    (10) Make regulations, in order to prevent harmful fires and smoke, that shall have the force of law when approved by the county legislative body or other governing body;

    (11) Give aid anywhere in the county in the event of fire, flood or other disaster;

    (12) Assist local and volunteer fire departments whenever necessary. Such assistance includes, but is not limited to, financial aid and shall be upon such terms as agreed to by both parties;

    (13) Provide training and maintenance services for the benefit of any fire department;

    (14) Set up a central communications network connecting all fire and emergency units in the county;

    (15) Train, equip, maintain, and provide for the payment of volunteers at the discretion of the county-wide fire department;

    (16) Recommend the boundaries of fire tax district or districts to the county legislative body or other governing body, in those counties that have chosen to fund fire departments through fire tax districts, in order to have the fire taxes more nearly reflect the cost of services to be rendered in each area of the county, and recommend the amount to be spent in each such district;

    (17) Make reasonable charges for any services rendered that are not included in the fire tax of the district; and

    (18) With the approval of the county legislative body or other governing body, make written agreements for allocation and conveyance of any or all public functions, rights, duties, property, assets and liabilities of the county-wide fire department to any annexing municipality that justice or reason may require in the circumstances.

    (b) In those counties that now have or may hereafter have a metropolitan form of government, the powers described in subdivisions (a)(1)-(3), (5), (6) and (9) shall not be vested in the county-wide fire department, but shall be vested in the metropolitan government, to be exercised in the manner provided by its charter.

    HISTORY: Acts 1965, ch. 138, § 2; 1968, ch. 611, §§ 2, 3; impl. am. Acts 1978, ch. 934, §§ 7, 36; T.C.A., § 5-1702; Acts 1999, ch. 125, § 2.

    The county resolution that says that emergency services in Mt. Juliet will not be enhanced until such time as Mt. Juliet establishes its own fire department is an illegal resolution, which means that it is null and void. The county commission does not have the power to make such restrictions, and in fact it is in violation of the law in attempting to do so. I am not sure that the Wilson County Emergency Services Committee is even a legal committee. John Jewel runs the countywide fire department…period. The Wilson County Commission only has the power to:

    ….approve fire tax boundaries…….

    (16) Recommend the boundaries of fire tax district or districts to the county legislative body or other governing body, in those counties that have chosen to fund fire departments through fire tax districts, in order to have the fire taxes more nearly reflect the cost of services to be rendered in each area of the county, and recommend the amount to be spent in each such district;

    ……approve the allocation and conveyance of any or all public functions, rights, duties, property, assets and liabilities of the countywide-fire department to any annexing municipality that justice or reason my require in the circumstances……

    (18) With the approval of the county legislative body or other governing body, make written agreements for allocation and conveyance of any or all public functions, rights, duties, property, assets and liabilities of the county-wide fire department to any annexing municipality that justice or reason may require in the circumstances.

    …..approve the Countywide Fire Chief’s annual budget….. (note: The Countywide Fire Chief, I do not believe, has ever prepared a countywide fire department budget, nor has one ever been submitted to the county legislative body. This is an obvious dereliction of duty.)…….

    5-17-104. Budget.

    (a) The county-wide fire department shall prepare an annual budget of anticipated receipts and expenditures, and it shall be submitted to the county legislative body or other governing body of the county.

    (b) In those counties that have established fire tax districts, the county-wide fire department shall determine what share of the total annual expense of the county-wide fire department must be allocated to each fire tax district.

    (c) In those counties having a metropolitan government, the budget for the county-wide fire department shall be prepared, submitted and adopted in the manner provided therefor in the charter of the metropolitan government.

    ……..approve fire districts…………

    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.

    ……and, finally, levy a fire tax……….

    5-17-106. Fire tax — Levy.

    (a) The county legislative body or other governing body shall levy an annual fire tax upon the property owners of each district. The county legislative body of any county having a population of not less than eighty thousand (80,000) nor more than eighty-three thousand (83,000), according to the 1990 federal census or any subsequent federal census, that after April 8, 1992 establishes a fire tax district, may levy an annual fire tax upon the property owners of each district. If a tax is levied, the provisions of subsection (b) shall apply to such fire tax.

    (b) The fire tax of each fire tax district shall be set at a rate sufficient to pay that district’s share of the total budget of the county-wide fire department.

    Those powers that I just showed you are the only powers the county commission or the county mayor have over the Countywide Fire Department except that they may disestablish it altogether. Other than those things I just pointed out, John Jewel is the guy in charge and the entire responsibility of the department rests on his shoulders.

    The City of Mt. Juliet is negotiating with the wrong body. John Jewel is the only person in the world who has the power and authority to determine such things as what the Wilson County Countywide Fire Department will do and will not do in regard to the provision of emergency services in this county, including within the cities. That said, because the countywide fire department is a separate agency, and because it is not a local legislative body, the city could also ask for a hearing under the uniform administrative procedures act to ask the judge to enforce the duties of the Countywide Fire Department. You see, the countywide fire chief has to, by law, ensure that Mt. Juliet has emergency services protection. By establishing the countywide fire department, the county made the countywide fire department responsible for providing fire protection services, including all those powers and duties contained and enumerated in T.C.A 5-17-102 inclusive, to every square inch of Wilson County. John Jewel carries that responsibility on his shoulders, and he is not, in any way, subject to the county commission’s whims or declarations. He is either in charge, or he isn’t the fire chief.

    If I am proven correct, and remember, I have an attorney general’s opinion to back me up, and the services that were, at the time of the attorney general’s opinion, part of WEMA, including all of the services now provided by WEMA and the Countywide Fire Department combined, which according to Mayor Hutto they were, and if those services can’t be provided under the civil defense chapter, which according to the attorney general they can’t, and in absence of any evidence supporting a position that would enable the county to provide those services under another statute, and absent any provision in the law that would allow the county to strip the countywide fire chief of any of his powers and duties, all of those emergency services now provided by WEMA necessarily must be considered to be a part of the countywide fire department.

    Once you add together the costs of all of those services, the dollar costs exceed the revenues available to the county under the alternative form of funding contemplated in T.C.A. §5-17-101 and authorized by the county in County Resolution S99-8-2 as the funding source for funding the countywide fire department. Therefore, the county must establish fire districts and levy a fire tax pursuant to TCA §5-17-101. Fire Chief John Jewel must recommend to the county commission his suggested fire tax districts, which, according to the Attorney General’s opinion in U92-124, by statute encompasses all of the unincorporated portions of the county and, upon election by any municipality to become a part of that countywide fire district, shall include that municipality. There really isn’t anything for John Jewel or the county commission to think about, they have no choice regarding what is and isn’t part of the countywide fire department as those decisions were made for them by statute.

    I don’t expect you to take my word for all of this, nor would I recommend that you do so. I recommend that you have an attorney who is familiar with these laws, or the city attorney, review what I have told you herein. I believe that I have mounted a case that is unbeatable.

    You can’t operate the countywide fire department under WEMA because the civil defense statutes do not authorize WEMA to act in that capacity.

    You have a countywide fire department, which must be constructed according to statute.

    The Countywide Fire Department, which by statute, and by resolution, is established with all the powers and duties enumerated and contained in 5-17-102, which include ambulance, rescue, fire suppression, hazardous material response, and first aid, among other items.

    The countywide Fire Chief is in charge of the countywide fire department and he answers to nobody except that,according to the law, he must perform the duties and meet the obligations and fulfill the responsibilities enumerated in the Countywide Fire Department chapter. If he fails to perform those duties he is subject to be sued in a court of law to force compliance.

    The county cannot pay for the countywide fire department using the alternative form of funding because it hasn’t enough funds from the authorized sources of funding to cover the costs, therefore it must establish fire taxes and the countywide fire chief must recommend boundaries to the county for the establishment of fire taxing districts, which according to the attorney general encompasses the entire unincorporated portion of the county and any municipality that opts in to the countywide fire district.

    Mt. Juliet can join that fire district and then force John Jewel in a court of law to provide adequate fire protection services (emergency services) to the city.

    John Jewel must create a budget that would allow him to provide adequate levels of fire protection within the entire county else he is derelict in his duties. Though I do not know of a standard which he must meet in the performance of his duties, a court of competent jurisdiction would make such a determination for him if he is sued in court and the plaintiff were to win.

    Gentlemen, I have handed you something here that is so powerful, and so ground shaking, you could use it to do harm. I am asking you to restrain yourselves and be gentlemen about this. Winning this war, and not doing so diplomatically, will get you adequate fire protection services and it may prevent this city from having to pour millions and millions of dollars each year, for many years to come, into a rabbit hole by duplicating services in this area of the county, but it won’t get us back the $3.5 million in service for which we are paying, but not receiving. Diplomacy and tact will be the only thing that will get that money back here in this city. The County can spend money from the general fund however it pleases and wherever it pleases provided it follows the law. You don’t want to win this “War”; you want to win hearts and minds. You want to be persuasive. You want to work with the county, not against the county. You want to ensure that they are educated regarding the value that Mt. Juliet brings to this county and that we want to be friends, not enemies.

    I apologize for it taking me so long to figure this out, however, to my defense, I have not studied law in a formal education system and it took me some time to develop a clear mental picture regarding what we are dealing with here. The picture is now clear, and if you need me to clear it up for you even more I am certainly willing to do so.

    The goal, as far as fire protection goes, should be to ensure that every man, woman, and child has adequate fire protection in as much as we are able to provide it. When it comes to saving lives, there should be no boundary markers. Anyone and everyone that can help should help. This comes full circle back to “what is the role of government?” The answer should always be, “To establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.” You can’t accomplish those things by being divisive, you accomplish those things by working hand-in-hand with other governments and with the people. There should not be a divide between the people and government, there should just be those who have the power to vote and those who tell those who vote what to vote for and what not to vote for….and who gets paid and who doesn’t. We are all responsible for upholding the law, and after all, we are a republic, which means we govern by law.

    As I have told you, I have a plan. I have a plan that could ensure that everyone has the maximum level of protection practicable and practical. Mayor Hutto has agreed to look at my plan. I suggest you be willing to do the same. However, before you look over the plan that I have worked out, you should have the attorney review what I have written herein, ensure that it is correct and accurate, and then reach out to the county to bring them in and make them “Partners in Prosperity.” We don’t have to be adversarial. We can be “Partners”. We can build a brighter future, we can build a better public safety platform, we can do better, and we must. When you have it within your capability to enhance protection and at the same time limit the amount of tax dollars that need to be spent by government for that protection, isn’t your public duty and moral obligation to do so? You have within your grasp the opportunity to do something great, you can help save lives, limit suffering and loss, and save the people money! What a great opportunity you have; will you make use of it? Talk to me. Open a conversation and I promise you I can show you things that will get you excited. The prospect of doing something that helps millions of people, that saves tax dollars and that reduces pain, suffering, loss of property, and loss of life should excite you to no end. I promise you that there is a better way. Be an example of statesmanship; use this as a bridge-making opportunity. Let’s work together to bridge the gap between the factions in this county and bring people together and start working on develop a future of prosperity and hope and vision. This is one of the most, if not the most, divisive issue this county faces. If you resolve this issue amicably and legally you can put to rest much of what has divided us. Once you clear that away then you can begin to work on the more minor things that divide us. By systematically working with each other, within the law, and by developing a inclusive plan of growth and plan for the provision of services, you can start to work hand-in-hand with each other and with the public in order to accomplish great things together. Let’s not let this issue stir unrest in this county any longer. Let’s fix this!

    Butch Huber

  68. Butch Huber

    The legal services of the county say that they are in good shape.

    Let me play that back in slow motion. “No, we aren’t going to do anything of any value, we are going to continue on the present course even though by doing so all we do is cost the taxpayers of Mt. Juliet millions of dollars each year and increase our costs as well, which Mt. Juliet citizens get to pay a huge part of as well. So, we will ignore what is blatantly obvious and risk the lawsuits and embarrassment of being forced under court order to do what is right.”

    Guys, someone show me where I am wrong.

    They cannot operated WEMA as a management agency for a countywide fire department because WEMA is not authorized by statute to operate in that manner. No agency of this state, nor political subdivision, can operate supra state law. Every thing that they do has to be authorized by statute. There can be no authorization for the county Emergency Management Agency to operate as a management agency for a countywide fire department because the emergency management agency is established for very strict and well defined purposes, and managing a countywide fire department that provides regular services is not one of those purposes.

    That, friends, is the bottom-line. Unless the county can produce a state law that authorizes the County Emergency Management Agency, an organization established under TCA 58-2-101–58-2-124, to act as a management agency through which a countywide fire department provides fire suppression and through which the county emergency management agency itself provides all other emergency services of the county, then they can’t do it. End of story. Except it isn’t the end of the stinking story. The county is determined to continue on its present course no matter what!!!!! AHHHH!!!!!!!!!

  69. Chief O'Hallorhan

    The county has shown us laws and TCA codes that they are in violation doesn’t matter much to them… If the state comes in the first thing the would do is do a reorganization and says we have a EMA head in thier Planning Officer, Fire Chief in Taylor, EMS Chief in Newberry, and overall Director of the department Jewell.

    EMAs are usually a very small staff not a whole agency like WEMA attempts to be, but hey WEMA is a agency that is against everything logical, safe, etc anyway that’s why nobody does it the way they do… Unique is good in some circumstances, but this isn’t one of them

  70. Butch Huber

    Guys, I have hit the sweet spot. I sent the email out earlier today. This was my response:

    Thanks for the email. I had legal services look into it and they said we are in good shape, but they would look at it extensively. I will try to get a
    response to you soon on all the information you have sent me over the past several days. Thanks: Mayor Hutto

    My Response to the response:

    Mayor Hutto,

    The county is not good, Mayor.

    You and I have a meeting scheduled for December 9th, but in the meantime you and I can explore this by email.

    Please answer this question. Please don’t ask anyone else to answer it for you, please answer it yourself.

    The attorney general said that an organization established under T.C.A. 58-2-101 is not authorized to provide regular fire protection services. He then went on in his opinion to include other emergency services, even specifically pointing out ambulance, rescue and first aid, a services that may not be provided by an EMA. The county was sued. In a response to that suit, the county split off fire suppression and established the countywide fire department. According to you, fire suppression is the only service provided by the Countywide Fire Department. The rest of the services were left under WEMA in contravention to the attorney general’s opinion.

    Let’s forget everything else for a moment and let’s focus in on these two questions.

    1) What is different about fire suppression in so much as the county is not allowed to provide that service outside of the countywide fire department and under WEMA, but would allow the county to provide ambulance, rescue, water rescue, and other emergency services under WEMA and outside the countywide fire department?

    2) If you can’t explain that difference and justify it, aren’t you wrong?

    They are all emergency services. There is a chapter under which they may be provided (the countywide fire department chapter). But somehow fire suppression is different than the rest of the services. How?

    Mayor, please don’t avoid answering this question or delay in your answer. Please be considerate of the extensive amount of time I am investing in this issue by giving me a direct and expedient answer to the questions above.

    His response:

    I really appreciate your interest. I would love to do nothing else but focus all my time on fire but I have other issues that need my attention as well. I have chased so many leads that you have given me that it is consuming all my time. I must be fair to others who have asked me to do things for them as well. Im sorry that I can’t get to you as soon as you want me to. I don’t really know if we can agree on all these topics. It may be best if we leave this with your council. Thanks mayor Hutto

    Guys, the City of Lebanon literally wastes $3 million worth of tax payers every year. Because Lebanon wants to keep their service, and because they have a bug up their butts because we get our services from WEMA while they pay for their own fire suppression, they push the county to force Mt. Juliet into establishing its own fire service.

    Asking him to respond to my question rather than making me wait for a month or more, while our city is about to spend nearly a half-million dollars just to purchase and prepare a site for a new Mt. Juliet Fire Station, isn’t too much to ask. The last questions I asked him he made me wait a month to get the answers. I don’t have a month. I have to move or this city commission will spend our money. We don’t have money to waste.

    Somehow, Mayor Hutto thinks that if I go to counsel it will consume less of his time. That would be like jumping out of the pot and into the fire.

  71. Randall Patrick "R.P." McMurphy

    Butch, et al,
    I would like to emphasize the point you made right at the end. We do not have the time to waste as this commission heads down the WRONG path with your money. The original intent of the proposed fire station is an additional staion for WEMA…then if not, maybe MJ will get into the ambulance busines according to Ed. The point is, Butch is showing that WEMA cannot legally operate as it is now and the MJ commisioners are about to give them another fire station to operate ILLEGALLY. To sum up…
    1. MJ is about to enable WEMA to enhance the illegal operation
    2. Then, if after building the new station, WEMA tells the city “no thanks” (which they will because WEMA can’t afford right now to keep all the trucks they have on the road MUCH LESS put 2 more in a city the county despises)MJ is BLINDLY going to go into the “ambulance business”.

    MJ commissioner need to STOP, THINK, and ASK for help. Call your city rep and suggest he do just that.

    RP

  72. Sonny Griffin

    Butch,

    First let me say that I value your opinion very highly.
    I value the opinion of everybody very highly.

    But that doesn’t mean I have to agree with them or you.

    I truly believe that you are going down the wrong road in trying to prove that WEMA is an illegal operation.

    You say that:

    They cannot operate WEMA as a management agency for a countywide fire department because WEMA is not authorized by statute to operate in that manner. No agency of this state, nor political subdivision, can operate supra state law. Every thing that they do has to be authorized by statute. There can be no authorization for the county Emergency Management Agency to operate as a management agency for a countywide fire department because the emergency management agency is established for very strict and well defined purposes, and managing a countywide fire department that provides regular services is not one of those purposes.

    TCA 58-2-110 Emergency management powers of political subdivisions states that:

    (3) Emergency management powers; political subdivisions. (A) In carrying out the provisions of this chapter, each political subdivision has the power and authority to:

    (i) Appropriate and expend funds; make contracts; obtain and distribute equipment, materials, and supplies for emergency management purposes; provide for the health and safety of persons and property, including emergency assistance to the victims of any emergency; and direct and coordinate the development of emergency management plans and programs in accordance with the policies and plans set by the federal and state emergency management agencies;

    The wording: “provide for the health and safety of persons and property, including emergency assistance to the victims of any emergency” is hard to explain from your point of view.

  73. Butch Huber

    Sonny,

    I, too, value your opinion. I think you are a brilliant man, and you are a patriot. You have simply missed something here that doesn’t immediately stand out.

    “A) In carrying out the provisions of this chapter”

    Nothing the county does, under the auspices of the civil defense chapter, that is not in keeping with the purpose and intent of the civil defense statutes, is lawful. The purpose and intent of the civil defense chapter is to prepare for and respond to emergencies caused by disasters, as defined in the chapter, and only then when a state of emergency has been called.
    The County can purchase equipment, procure supplies and materials, develop buildings, put plan in place, and do all things necessary to be capable of responding to an emergency is caused by disasters as defined by the chapter and for which there has been a declared state of emergency, but until that disaster occurs and the declaration has been made, they can not provide emergency response services through the Emergency Management Agency. The distinction there is vitally important. The purpose is to respond to emergencies that would necessitate that the governor have the authority to suspend laws. Those are extraordinary circumstances.

    I invite you, and anyone else looking in, to pick my case apart. I want you to prove me wrong if you are able. If you guys can’t pick my case apart, they will never pick it apart. If you are able to pick my case apart, I would rather know that now, before I do anything that would get egg on my face.

    When can they do all of these things? When a state of emergency has been declared:

    (i) Appropriate and expend funds; make contracts; obtain and distribute equipment, materials, and supplies for emergency management purposes; provide for the health and safety of persons and property, including emergency assistance to the victims of any emergency; and direct and coordinate the development of emergency management plans and programs in accordance with the policies and plans set by the federal and state emergency management agencies;

    The attorney general, in U92-134, stated that the county may provide emergency fire protection services under the Civil Defense statutes, but only in response to catastrophic disasters of great proportion size that have the potential of causing, or that have caused, unprecedented destruction. In my opinion, he should have gone on to state the rest of the requirement for them to act, which is a declared state of emergency.

  74. Butch Huber

    This is going to be a paradigm shift if I am proven to be correct. This shakes the very foundation of everything the county has been doing in regard to fire protection services. It unhinges the connection between WEMA and the emergency services provided by the county except during declared states of emergencies. Even if, for some reason, it doesn’t take a state of emergency in order for them to provide emergency services, the emergencies that they respond to under WEMA must fit the definitions of a disaster as defined in the Civil defense chapter. When this all sinks in, if I am correct, it will require radical changes in Wilson County. It will mean fire districts.

  75. Sonny Griffin

    Butch,

    Thanks for the compliments. I am not a brilliant man, you may be, but I can truthfully say that both of us are and always will be, passionately patriotic. If not, why would we spend so much time doing this?

    I was at the National Cemetery in Madison yesterday for a loved one’s interment. That will be my third military funeral this year. It is always a sobering experience. My granddaughter whispered to me after they had finished playing taps, Paw Paw are you crying? I whispered back, No baby, the wind is just making my eyes water.

    I promise you, Butch, that I will work on this and let you know what I come up with. I can be very obstinate at times, to the point of missing details of the other sides’ arguments.

    Regards, Sonny

  76. Butch Huber

    Going back to your comment earlier, WEMA is not an illegal operation, operating WEMA like a countywide fire department is illegal.

  77. Sonny Griffin

    Why?

  78. Sonny Griffin

    Suppose the county legislature says, ok, Butch, you’re right. We shouldn’t be operating WEMA like a county-wide fire department.

    We’ll just let WEMA take care of major disasters under the CD Statutes and we’ll let the County-Wide Fire Department take care of emergency services as set forth in §§ 5-17-101 etc.

    These are two separate agencies now. The county can legally take back the powers it delegated to WEMA.

    How would this force the county into fire districts?

    Nothing changes.

  79. Butch Huber

    Sonny, interesting question.

    It has to do with how things get funded. When the ambulance rolls, which it does quite extensively, all of the labor costs of the ambulance driver, the wear and tear on the ambulance, the fuel costs, the supplies etc all fall under the countywide fire department. The same holds true for all other emergency services. When you add all of those costs up it will add up to more than the county can pay for using the alternative forms of funding authorized in TCA 5-17-101. When that occurs, they have a choice; they can either dismantle the countywide fire department and discontinue providing fire protection services, they can turn it all over to a non-profit private service, or they can establish fire taxes. Hopefully that are smart enough to see that fire taxes are then in their best interests. Everything changes.

  80. Sonny Griffin

    The problem now is that the County-Wide Fire Department (WEMA) is not run like it’s supposed to be run.

    The unincorporated area of Wilson County should have its emergency services, provided by the County-Wide Fire Department (WEMA), funded only by situs based taxes or revenues that have already been shared with the incorporated areas of Wilson County (Mt. Juliet, Lebanon and Watertown). One or the other method can be used but not both. Detailed accounting procedures should be put into place which insure that no other public funds will be used for this expense.

    Mt. Juliet now knows that she has been subsidizing emergency services for this unincorporated area, thanks to the independent audit.

    What should Mt. Juliet do? In my opinion, Mt. Juliet should sue Wilson County for the yet undetermined amount of money that Mount Juliet has paid in property taxes to illegally subsidize emergency services for the unincorporated area of the county.

    In this lawsuit, the county property taxes paid by MJ citizens should be adjusted to reflect the portion of Wilson County emergency services costs that MJ now pays.

    MJ should opt out of anything to do with the County-Wide Fire Department and provide it’s own emergency services including ambulance. Any emergency services provided to unincorporated areas of the county by MJ would be by contract only.

    Butch, I can’t for the life of me see why you like fire tax districts. I absolutely detest the concept. The biggest reason is the following:

    5-17-104. Budget.

    (a) The county-wide fire department shall prepare an annual budget of anticipated receipts and expenditures, and it shall be submitted to the county legislative body or other governing body of the county.

    (b) In those counties that have established fire tax districts, the county-wide fire department shall determine what share of the total annual expense of the county-wide fire department must be allocated to each fire tax district.

    Do you really want your fire tax figured by essentially one person, the head of the County-Wide- FireDepartment (WEMA) (John Jewell)?

    Talk about taxation without representation.

    Of course, the boundaries of the fire tax districts are established by the County Commission. That ought to be fun watching that unfold.

    We’ve got everything in place to do what we have to do. I can’t see that we have any other choice than to establish our own emergency services.
    Let’s just do it.

  81. Butch Huber

    Sonny, you will love fire taxes once you really understand them. I think you have some misperceptions about what they mean.
    First of all, the entire unincorporated portion of Wilson County becomes one great big fire taxing district. See State Attorney General Opinion U92-134 which says:
    “A County-wide fire district would include the while county outside of the incorporated municipalities.”

    Sonny, we are not included in the fire district unless the city elects to become part of the fire district. See State Attorney General Opinion U92-134, which says:

    “any municipality could contract with the county to be included in the fire district.”

    Sonny, that puts the city in the catbird seat. John Jewell can’t determine anything to do with your taxes unless the city asks him to and even then only under contract agreement. The city is not part of the countywide fire district unless it actually opts in to the district.

    What that means to you is that you can’t be taxed twice for service you only receive once.

    If the city is going to build its own fire department, do you want to pay for it once, or do you want to pay for it twice? You only want to pay for it once. Without fire taxes you will be paying twice. With fire taxes you only pay once. However, with fire taxes, you have the potentially of spreading our costs across parts of the unincorporated portions of the county as well if the county and the city contract for the city to provide those services.

    Sonny, the current configuration is the absolute worst construction they could have ever come up with. It hurts everyone. It hurts lebanon, it hurts watertown, it hurts Mt. Juliet, and it hurts those who live in the unincorporated portions of the county. On some level, and in some way, the harm it does is greater than any good that can come from it. It is time to scrap that system and put fire taxes in place. Fire taxes provide everyone with more good than they do harm. Everyone can win with fire taxes, everyone necessarily is harmed if things stay as is.

    I will be glad to explain this in more detail if you would like. I know that once you see what I am talking about you will agree that fire taxes are the best option. Under fire taxes, everyone pays for the services that they receive and the citizens of one political subdivision do not pay for the services provided in another political subdivision. Yes, there is the possibility of subterfuge with fire taxes, as there is with practically everything government does, but under fire taxes it is much easier to detect.

  82. Sonny Griffin

    Butch, I don’t understand your reasoning here.

    On one hand you say that fire taxes are better for everyone and on the other hand you say MJ should opt out. I’m sorry, I don’t understand.

    If we opt out of the present situation, we no longer deal with the county-wide fire department.

    If we opt out of the fire tax situation, we no longer deal with the county- wide fire department.

    What’s the difference?

    Like I said in my last post, we can opt out of the present situation we are in. In fact, that is what I am advocating here.

    If we opt out, we will no longer be paying for emergency services. Our property taxes would be adjusted to reflect that. How can that be paying twice?

    I take it you really don’t like fire taxes either, if you want MJ to opt out of it?

  83. Butch Huber

    Sonny:

    Background:

    No county may provide countywide fire protection services except through a countywide fire department.

    What does the term “fire protection services mean”? The term “Fire protection services” means all of the services contained and enumerated in 5-17-102 inclusive. It means all of those services, not just fire suppression.

    From what I can gather, someone started raising a fuss about fire suppression during the late 1980’s to early 1990’s. Bob Rochelle asked the attorney general some questions about the way that WEMA was providing fire protection services using funds from the general fund. The attorney said that the county cannot operate regular emergency services through WEMA, but that, if the county was going to provide fire protection services, it had to operate those services through a countywide fire department. I don’t know who or what was behind all of this, but I would remind you that the county started to provide fire protection services in Mt. Juliet in 1986 in response to Mt. Juliet cutting the county off from the services provided from the Mt. Juliet volunteer fire department.

    I suppose somewhere in this there was some bad blood going on. It appears that in 1993 the county took its first crack at establishing a countywide fire department with fire taxes and fire districts. Apparently, someone didn’t like the way that they were doing things and filed suit. Actually, there were two people who filed suit. They passed another version in 1994, then in 1995, with the passage of R95-5-4, they had their last resolution that established a countywide fire department. When that occurred, the county had established fire districts and was levying a fire tax. This when on for four or five years. Meanwhile, Bob Rochelle was working an amendment to the countywide fire department chapter through the state general assembly.

    With the passage of that amendment, the county was then authorized to use either situs based taxes or other sources of revenues that have already been shared with the municipalities to pay for the costs of the countywide fire department.

    Now, according to Mayor Hutto, the only service that was ever put under the countywide fire department was fire suppression. The rest of the emergency services, in contravention to state law, and in diametric opposition and defiance of the attorney general’s opinion, stated under WEMA.

    After the approval of the Rochelle amendment, the county passed county resolution S99-8-2, which allowed the county to use the alternative forms of funding for the countywide fire department and the fire taxes stopped being assessed. I believe the last year we paid fire taxes was in 1999 or 2000.

    You can go to the Comptrollers website and see that they charged a fire tax back then.

    The county has asserted that it provides ambulance and rescue to all of Wilson County, but because Lebanon and Watertown provide their own fire suppression, many in the county want Mt. Juliet to do the same.

    Never mind that the county will actually end up paying more expenses, not less, if the city of Mt. Juliet establishes its own fire department, they want it and they aim to get it. Never mind that we would be wasting millions upon millions of dollars on fire suppression in Mt. Juliet, just like Lebanon is doing, if we don’t go about this in the right way.

    The county cannot operate the Countywide Fire Department under WEMA, neither can it operate the other emergency services under WEMA, and the only place that the county can operate those services is under the countywide fire department. Whether you or I or they like it, they have to establish a fire tax district that encompasses the entire unincorporated portion of the county. That is what the law says, and neither your opinion about whether it should be that way, my opinion of whether it should be that way, or their opinion about whether it should be that way matter, that is the way that it is. Unless the laws are changed, that is the situation we have to deal with. Anything less and either the county, or the city, or both, can be successfully sued in a court of law and the plaintiff would surely win.

    It do not make good sense, nor is it good policy, to establish services that cost millions of dollars each year to provide on shaky legal underpinnings. You want a sound foundation under what you do or you could be wasting millions, if not tens of millions, of dollars.

    If for a moment you assume that I am correct, and that the county has to establish fire districts and levy a fire tax, you can see some possibilities that are not available the way that things stand today.

    1) Mt. Juliet could establish a fire department and provide all of the emergency services in this city, but not provide services from the county or be provided services by the county. That is an option. It is a bad option, but it is an option.

    2) Mt. Juliet could join the countywide fire district and let WEMA provide those services here in Mt. Juliet. If I trusted Wilson County I would say that this is the best option, but I don’t trust them so I will say that it isn’t a great option.

    3) Mt Juliet could enter into a joint operation with Wilson County under Title 12. Under that agreement there would be a cost sharing arrangement and the two governments would benefit from economies of scale. This is a viable option.

    4) Mt. Juliet could contract with the county to provide us with emergency services and pay the county out of the city coffers. Remember, with fire taxes, if we don’t opt in, you have a differential between what you pay in property taxes and what those who are in the unincorporated portions of the county, and what any citizens of any city that does opt in, pay in property taxes. Their fire tax goes on top of their property taxes. Mt. Juliet could charge us a city property tax and put that money toward paying for the services that the county provides here. This is probably a better scenario for us because we could own the infrastructure and the Wilson County Countywide Fire Department could employ the personnel. We could determine for ourselves what level of services we want in this city and we would pay for our service and everyone else would pay for their service. This is a very good option, but not a great option.

    5) the best option for us is for Mt. Juliet to go into the emergency services business full bore and provide emergency services to the city and all the areas outside this city, but within five miles of any of our fire stations. The county would then pay us to provide services to them. We would own the equipment and infrastructure and the county would pay us to take care of people in the unincorporated portions of the county. They, and we, would have services that are the type of services that you need in a small city and urban/suburban types setting. We would spread our costs across a much bigger base of people that way. Besides having a great relationship with the county and being able to trust them and let them just do it all, this is our best option.

    Remember the charade? The county wants to get us to build a new station, equip it, staff it, pay them to staff people in station 3, let them use station 3 to operate out of, and not establish fire taxes. Why? Because if they establish fire taxes the entire game changes for them. They have to stop taking our money and giving us back less than that for which they are taxing us. Fire taxes closes the house of smoke and mirrors, at least as far as this matter is concerned. Sonny, the current scenario is a sham. It is a slight of hand trick.

    Most of this is caused because Lebanon insists on keeping its $3,000,000 plus per year albatross that they call a fire department. If they would give that up, the whole issue would change dramatically, but they don’t want to give it up, so the only thing that can be done is to establish fire taxes, which the county has no choice in doing anyway, and then let them work out who is going to take care of lebanon and who is going to pay the other one to take care of their people.

    Everyone wins with fire taxes because the county will not enhance fire protection services because if they do, even under their scam, they would have to establish fire districts, which would ruin the scam.

    In the meantime, we suffer from grossly inadequate levels of protection, not just in Mt. Juliet, but everywhere in the county. If they just give up the scam, and establish fire districts, then everyone can have the level of service in their area that they are willing to pay to have and the energy and money that is being wasted could be put toward something productive.

    Remember when I first got on here and said that when you are negotiating, before you even sit down, you need to envision the other guy sitting at the table with a quiver on his back and you sitting at the table with a quiver on your back? Remember when I said that what you want to do is systematically take the arrows out of his quiver and put them in your quiver before you even begin, that way he has nothing to shoot at you? The goal in negotiations is not to take advantage of the other guy, but rather to have a win-win situation. We all know that a zero-sum deal is no deal at all. Sonny, I believe I have all their arrows now. They now are in a position where they really don’t have any negotiating room. At this point, they have to establish fire taxes and do this by the book. This is true at least from a legal standpoint. However, what they can end up with in the end, and what we all can end up with in the end, is a much more economical, much more efficient and effective public safety department, and we can end up with it practically free of charge from a taxpayer stand point. When you are negotiating with someone who is hostile toward you, you take away from them anything that they can use to harm you, then you show them that if they will just work with you they can have more than they ever would get through hostilities.

    Sonny, how have things been working between the city and the county so far? Not so good, right? That would not change if we just buckled under to the county and did what you are suggesting, which is exactly what they want us to do. They would be absolutely thrilled if Mt. Juliet would do what you are suggesting. The county is trying to get Mt. Juliet to annex as much of the unincorporated portion of the county into Mt. Juliet as they can. Have you noticed the annexations lately? Their plan is to get this city to take on the responsibility of roads for the balance of West Wilson County. Once annexed, the county can withdraw, which settles the issue about them having to have a fire station here to provide service to other portions of the county. This is a chess match we are engaged in, and some of these boys behind the scenes are chess masters and they were playing this game when I was in diapers. Another thing you do in negotiating is you have things ready to give up that you care about, but not that much. You fight like hell to hold your ground everywhere, then you give up a little here and a little there until you get the deal you wanted or close to it. The other guy goes away felling like he got what he wanted, and you get what you want.

    This problem was exacerbated by Ed Hagerty when he just dropped his drawers in the beginning of this process saying that the city has never won against the county in court. The message he sent is that we are glad to give up our milk money. The county then figured that we were going to be their bitches and they overreached. Now they don’t want to back up. They think that they can get whatever they want from us because Ed Hagerty is not willing to take them to court. Jim Bradshaw is never going to vote to take the county to court, he wants to find a way to be able to stay on that commission and be on our commission. There is a very strong possibility that the county will have to be taken to court by citizens in order to keep them from robbing us blind. If that is what it takes, then that is what it takes. In the meantime, expect our costs to go through the roof, Sonny. Providing the operations the way that you are saying doesn’t spread the costs across enough people. The city will end up spending a fortune on fire if they don’t listen up, and in the end you and I will be paying a lot more in city property taxes than the twenty cents that they approved. At the same time, we will still be paying the county, but the county won’t be providing us with anything.

    I guess I just made this clear as mud. Sonny, if you would like to meet with me sometime I would be glad to do so. It would be much easier to explain this in person than on this site.

    I am trying to get you what you want, and at the same time save you, and me, and the rest of this city, and the rest of the county for that matter, a hell of a lot of money. We are already wasting tons of money on inefficiencies and duplications, we don’t need to compound the waste by doing this in the wrong way. If they were to go with my plan, there would be a Mt. Juliet fire department, the rest of the county would know that Mt. Juliet is not getting a free ride, we wouldn’t have to pay for someone else’s protection, everyone in this county would have better and more service, and nobody would have anything even remotely worthwhile to bitch about.

  84. Butch Huber

    Sonny,

    Attempt number 2. I am not sure if my previous attempt to answer you was lost or not.

    “On one hand you say that fire taxes are better for everyone and on the other hand you say MJ should opt out. I’m sorry, I don’t understand.”

    Yes, we should push for fire taxes, then opt out, and then enter into a joint venture deal with the county or push for a deal under which Mt. Juliet provides services to the bulk of west wilson county. We would then pay our distributive share of the costs to cover our city and the county would pay the city to cover the unincorporated portions of the county. Forcing the county to provide funding for the countywide fire department using fire taxes gives this city incredibly more power and control than it has now. The county gives us grossly inadequate service, but they are charging us just like they charge everyone in the county. With fire taxes, whether we opt out or opt in, the city can dictate the level of service it wants to have in Mt. Juliet.

    “If we opt out of the present situation, we no longer deal with the county-wide fire department.”

    You can’t opt out of the current situation in as much as you are going to pay for the countywide fire department unless we have fire taxes. Without fire taxes, you are going to pay for the Mt. Juliet fire department AND you are going to pay for the countywide fire department. I know you don’t want to do that.

    “If we opt out of the fire tax situation, we no longer deal with the county- wide fire department.”

    With fire taxes, if we opt out, you no longer pay for the countywide fire department, you only pay for the Mt. Juliet fire department. That is the difference.

    “Like I said in my last post, we can opt out of the present situation we are in. In fact, that is what I am advocating here.”

    You can’t opt out of the present situation in terms of what you are paying for it, you can only opt out of having them provide the service here by spending millions of more dollars and by letting the county
    continue to charge us to pay for the countywide fire department. If they were truly able to cover all of the costs of the countywide fire department utilizing the alternative funding sources allowed in TCA 5-17-101, then opting out without paying twice would be possible. However, the county would also have to stop providing emergency services to both Watertown and Lebanon in order for them to be legal. That isn’t likely to happen. Sonny, what they doing is a scam. It is a scam upon the people of West Wilson County. Mt. Juliet isn’t the only group of people who are being ripped off here. The people of all of West Wilson County are being ripped off by the county in their scheme. Mt. Juliet establishing its own fire department without actually addressing the real issue means we spend millions of dollars each year to provide services to Mt. Juliet, but we leave the rest of west wilson county blowing in the wind. Do you think that Mt. Juliet is going to stand by and allow a little baby to die in a fire that they could have responded to? No. What that means is that you and I are going to end up paying the costs of providing fire protection services to all of West Wilson County. That is, unless I can get them to do the right thing here.

    “If we opt out, we will no longer be paying for emergency services. Our property taxes would be adjusted to reflect that. How can that be paying twice?”

    Yes, you will be paying for emergency services, and you will be paying through the nose for them. Your county property taxes will not be adjusted downwardly, your city property taxes will be adjusted upwardly. You will, I promise you, be paying twice. You will be paying the county to provide fire protection which they will no longer provide, and you will be paying property taxes in Mt. Juliet to pay for services that Mt. Juliet does provide. But it gets worse. You will end up paying for the services to the area outside of Mt. Juliet as well, but they won’t be. The county will allow Mt. Juliet to handle calls for service in all of West Wilson County, to the degree that they can get our department to handle, and you and I get to foot the bill, but because those citizens are outside of Mt. Juliet they wouldn’t pay our property taxes. However, in a fire tax situation there is hope that we could be paid to provide services to West Wilson County, which spreads our costs.

    When you establish a fire station, that station is capable and will respond to an area that is within 5 driving distance mile from the station. It will actually cover more area than that, but only those who live within fire miles are considered to be “Covered” for emergency services as it concerns insurance rates. No matter where in this city you place a fire station, because of the configuration of the city, you cover more of the county than you cover in the city. Any area that falls inside of our coverage area the county will want us to cover, but they won’t want to pay for that coverage. The county is looking to use this as a tool to force us to have property taxes and to force us to annex West Wilson County so that they don’t have to pay for roads and such in those areas that are not inside this city.

    This is all about the county taking money from this side of the county and spending it elsewhere. Sonny, if we were to do what you are suggesting, and build a fire department without going to fire taxes, we would have a much worse situation than the $3.5 million service deficit that we currently have, it would be two, three, or even four times as bad effectively.

    No Sonny, I don’t like fire taxes, not because fire taxes is not the way to go, but because I don’t like any form of taxes. However, if we are going to have government paid emergency services, fire taxes, out of the available options, is the best option. Fire taxes give us a choice, the current situation is just something that the county will use to beat us over the head with and to try to extort more money from us. Even if we do build our own fire department, the county will continue to charge us as if we haven’t.

    Sonny, I think you are not quite understanding how fire taxes work. With fire taxes, you only pay for the services that you receive. You can be shed of the county with fire taxes, but you can’t be shed of them without fire taxes. With fire taxes, you pay once, without fire taxes, you pay twice. You pay twice unless you allow the county to continue to provide us with inadequate levels of services and allow them to beat us over the head again and again and again. I don’t think I am doing a good job explaining fire taxes. Perhaps I need to develop a post on exactly how fire taxes work. I can’t conceive of why you wouldn’t like fire taxes better than the current situation or anything that can come out of the current situation without fire taxes. I detest fire taxes, too, but I detest the existing situation and what will come out of it without fire taxes even more. I would prefer a private, non-profit fire system that is vibrant and able to meet and exceed the need, but that will not happen while the government is involved. So I will restate, given that the governments of this county are going to remain in the emergency services business, and given the options we have under the law, when you understand how fire taxes actually work, I think you are going to love them as the best option. However, if you think I don’t know how fire taxes work, I am open to being schooled on the subject. As I have said many times, I don’t want to be wrong. If I am wrong, show me I am wrong, and then I will adopt the right way, and once again I will be right. I like being right. I hate being wrong.

  85. Sonny Griffin

    Butch,

    You say:

    “5) the best option for us is for Mt. Juliet to go into the emergency services business full bore and provide emergency services to the city and all the areas outside this city, but within five miles of any of our fire stations. The county would then pay us to provide services to them. We would own the equipment and infrastructure and the county would pay us to take care of people in the unincorporated portions of the county. They, and we, would have services that are the type of services that you need in a small city and urban/suburban types setting. We would spread our costs across a much bigger base of people that way. Besides having a great relationship with the county and being able to trust them and let them just do it all, this is our best option.”

    Compare this to what I said:

    “MJ should opt out of anything to do with the County-Wide Fire Department and provide it’s own emergency services including ambulance. Any emergency services provided to unincorporated areas of the county by MJ would be by contract only.”

    Do you really think that the county is just going to roll over and say, ok, Butch, let’s establish fire tax districts? Of course not. This would be a monumental legal battle involving whether or not WEMA is an illegal operation and somebody is going to have to file a complaint. Are you willing to do that, Butch? Somebody has to. Who is that going to be?

    Then, assuming WEMA was proved an illegal operation, and fire tax districts are established, you want to opt out of the fire districts so that you can do what you propose in 5)?

    Why do you want to go around your elbow to get to your ass?

    We can opt out of the present system we are in and accomplish what you propose in 5) without going through all of the fire district BS.

    How is what I advocate buckling under to the county?

    If it is, then so are you, because we both propose to opt out of emergency services provided by the county-wide fire department.

    You are saying that we have to opt out of emergency services provided by the county-wide fire department and furnish our own emergency services. Amen, I totally agree. As you know, that is the county’s worst nightmare.

    You, however, want to go through a lengthy and expensive process to
    establish fire tax districts and then opt out. The rest of the county has their options available to them. They can petition for fire tax districts if they want to. Who am I to say what’s best for them?

    I am saying that we can opt out of the present system any time we want to without going to any other measures. We are talking about now rather than the 1, 2 ——years your proposal would take.

    Does your strategy make sense? What are the advantages of doing it your way?

    In the end, we agree that opting out of emergency services provided by the county-wide fire department is necessary to being able to establish our own emergency services in MJ.

  86. Butch Huber

    Sonny, you just aren’t understanding what I am trying to tell you. If you do what you are proposing I get to continue to pay for services twice. I am not up for that. If I am forced to sue, I will sue. I don’t want to do that, I want government to function properly and self-regulate. However, in the absence of it self-regulating I will do what I have to in order to get them to do the right thing. I believe that I now have them in a place where I have developed a legal argument that they cannot escape from. They aren’t legally able to operate in the way that they are doing it, they never were legally allowed to do what they are doing, it’s just nobody has ever called them on it.
    Sonny, are we to just turn a blind eye to the fact that the county is using our taxes to pay for ambulance, rescue, and all other services for Lebanon, including back up fire suppression? Are we supposed to sit back and let them continue to provide all services to Watertown except for fire suppression and rescue? Lebanon is getting $88.85 per person in emergency services, Watertown gets $85 per person, and that is being provided out of taxpayer dollars. Unincorporated Wilson County is getting $55 per person in emergency services. Under your plan, we would allow the county to continue to spend all that money, one quarter of which comes from Mt. Juliet, providing all of those people with emergency services, but yet we would be paying for all of our services. Is that what you want? I don’t think it is.

    With fire taxes, we no longer would be paying for their services, we would be paying for our services, they would be paying for all of their services, and everything would be fair and even. It is certainly reasonable that you would have a say in what services the others who live in this county get if you are the one that is going to be paying for it, which you would if we don’t have fire taxes.

    Sonny,

    The way that fire taxes would work is the county would make the entire unincorporated portions of the county one large fire tax district. They would assess a tax that would be sufficient, based just on the value of the land in the unincorporated portion of the county, to pay the cost of providing emergency services to the people who live in the unincorporated portions of the county. Unless Lebanon and Watertown opted into the fire district, or unless they made arrangement for the county to provide them with fire protection services at their costs, they would have to provide all of their own emergency services. So, Lebanon would have to either say, “yes, we want to be a part of the fire tax district”, or “no, we don’t want to be a part of the fire tax district”. If they opt in, they are all in, meaning they have to pay a fire tax. It appears that someone tried to set things up so that you can have multiple fire districts, but it appears that you still can only comply with the law by having just one fire district. If that is true, then Lebanon would become just another part of the one large countywide fire district. What that means is that the county would assess what it would cost to provide the funding necessary for the countywide fire department with Lebanon included. Then, based on the value of the land in the unincorporated portions of the county plus the value of the land in Lebanon, the county would figure out what property tax rate they would need to assess to raise that much money. Lebanon and the rest of the County would pay the same tax rate. This would not preclude the county from paying Lebanon for providing some or even all of its own services out of the fire tax money received, it would just be managed and operated by the Countywide Fire Department. If Lebanon wanted to get out of the business, they could just let Wilson County handle it. They could also have any variation in between. This sets up a working relationship that is not a one-sided deal. The city and the county collaborate on the project. The same could be done here and in Watertown. Fire taxes simply give us many more options, and it gives the cities much more control than they have now. As cities grow and territories change, so can the arrangements. It is flexible. If Lebanon does not want to be part of the countywide fire districts, then they can refrain from opting in, and they can either provide all of their own services, or they can pay the county to provide all of the services to them, or they can have practically any variation in between. The same can happen here in Mt. Juliet.

    Sonny, I don’t think I am going around my elbow to get to my ass, but if I am, it is because that is how the law is set up. I didn’t write the laws, I am just trying to get my government to recognize for crying out loud that laws apply to them just as much as they apply to us.

    Sonny, if we don’t fix this, you would have a situation where two guys could live across the street from one another. One guy lives in the county, the other in the city and the county (Remember, we are all citizens of the county). If we did things the way that you are proposing, the guy who lives in the city would be paying the city to provide him with all of his services. The guy in the county, on the other hand, would be paying the county to provide his services. However, 1/4th of the costs to provide the guy in the county with emergency services would be coming from the tax money that the guy in the city paid to the county. The guy in the city gets back nothing in return for his contribution, and the guy in the county just gets the guy in the city’s tax money. That, by itself, would be bad enough, however, the way that this would work out would even be worse. When the guy who lives in the county makes a call asking for emergency services, where do you think the service would come from? You guessed it, it would come from the city. The county would allow the city to rescue that guy. The city would either have to make the call to let that guy die, or they would elect to respond. The city would respond, and they should, a person’s life is worth more than the money. What you end up with is a situation where we would be paying the county to provide that guy with service, and that guy would also be paying the county for service, and we would be paying the city to provide us with service. That would be insane!

    Fire taxes are the only legal option, Sonny. I know that you are not suggesting that we just settle on the county and the city violating the law forever. If I have to follow the law, they have to follow the law. Sonny, you and I served to protect our nation and our way of life. Our nation is established as a republic, which means we operate in accordance with laws. If we throw that out, then how are we to govern? Either we have a republic or we don’t. You and I are not allowed to make the call regarding which laws we will allow government to follow and which laws we are not going to expect them to follow. Their job is to follow all laws.
    If there are laws they don’t like, their job is to try to change the law. I don’t get to ignore the speed limit because I don’t agree with it, and we both know that there are places where the speed limits are obviously wrong. I have to obey the speed limit and if I don’t and I get a ticket, whose fault is it? Mine. I could go before the judge and say, “Your Honor, I was going faster than the speed limit, by I was not speeding. You see, the speed limit is wrong. I was doing 55 miles an hour in a zone that should be posted 55 miles per hour. If they had the right speed limit I wouldn’t be speeding, therefore I was not speeding, I was going the right speed, the limit is wrong.” Well, I could say that, but he would not buy it. Even if I am right, and the speed limit is wrong, I am wrong if I am not obeying it. If we get in the practice of dismissing the violations of the law by our government where will those violations end? Government gets fat on everything. If it is taking money from us, it can never get enough. If Government is taking liberty from us it can never get enough. If the government is violating laws, it can never get enough. Government is never satiated. It always wants more of everything it can get. More power, more money, more control, more of our liberties, more…more…more. Our job is to keep it within its confines.

    The question is, Sonny, will you stand against the government in its encroachment on your rights and its illegal taking of your money? Yes, I will stand against what they are doing, Sonny. You should know that about me by now. If I have to sue, I will. Will you join with me, or will you let me stand alone? If not this battle, what battle? If not here, then where? If not now, then when? If you knew that the only legal option the county has is to establish fire taxes, would you help ensure that they choose that option? If you don’t help ensure that they choose that option I promise you that you are going to be paying twice for services that you only receive once. If you won’t help “tamp down their mischief” in this arena, will you help in another? What will it take to get citizens of this city, this county, this state, and this nation to stand for their rights? What will it take for citizens to tell government, “you can come this far, but no farther?”

    Sonny, fire taxes are the answer that resolves this whole mess. As long as people accept that fire taxes are the only legal option, and that they really are a good option for everyone, fire taxes can help us all come together. However, if everyone doesn’t accept that, then at least we will no longer be paying for everyone else’s emergency services.

    I am not deluded into thinking that when the county finally relents and establishes the fire tax that they won’t contrive another scheme. I anticipate that they will launch their next scheme immediately. However, if you remove the areas in which they can operate their scams, one area at a time, soon they have no place to hide. Meanwhile, we have to look at our city government to make sure that Mt. Juliet is operating properly as well. I in no way what to be a hypocrite. Mt. Juliet AND the county AND the state AND our federal government all have to be operating in accordance with the law.

    Let’s drop to the bottom line. Sonny, it isn’t a choice. The county has to operate by fire taxes. If they are going to be in the emergency services business they must operate in accordance with the law. The law says that they have to charge a fire tax and establish a fire district. Why? Because they operate a countywide fire department and they don’t have enough money available from the alternative funding source in order to operate it from those funds, therefore they have to, by law, establish fire districts and levy a fire tax. I didn’t make the law, I am just pointing out what it says. Even if I were against fire taxes, I would be saying that fire taxes is what they have to do. Why? Because that is what the law says. I might be trying to change the law, but I would be saying that it isn’t a choice, it is a mandate. I don’t get to choose which laws I want government to follow any more than I get to choose which laws I will follow. If I break the law, I get punished. However, if they break the law, most people say its okay because they are government. I don’t agree.

    No matter how much work it is for them to fix this, they need to fix it. This city will literally waste tens of millions of dollars and the county will waste another million upon million in tax payer dollars if they don’t fix it. Inefficiency in government is probably costing us half of our taxes, Sonny. We don’t need to create more waste by not doing this the right way. My plan has a transitional phase where the county and the city work together in a mutually beneficial arrangement, Sonny.

    Do you realize how much work and how much time and effort it will take for the city to have a fully functional, fully operational, fully capable, fire department? It isn’t something that you decide one day that you are going to do and the next day you have everything put together. Regardless of the solution, you need a phase in period. My plan puts that in place.

    Under my plan, you get every stinking thing you want, Sonny, everything. You get everything you know you want and more, and you get it all for the same money you are now spending or less. Now, why wouldn’t you want to have everything you are now getting or more, for the same price you are currently paying or less, especially when the new way solves a lot of problems?

    The law should allow each municipality to be a separate and distinct fire district, so that the city could determine how much we want to pay toward emergency services. Those who live around the city should be able to opt into the city fire districts so that they can get enhanced fire protection services. That is how it should be, but that doesn’t seem to be the way that it is. I would change a lot of things if I could, Sonny, but for now I have to live within the law as it is written. Again, I didn’t make the laws, I am just trying to get the government to follow them.

    There isn’t a choice, fire taxes are what we have to deal with. I could point out another way the county could potentially do it, however, they can’t be trusted with that option. They have shown that they don’t want to be fair, so I won’t show them a way that they can be unfair.

    Sonny, it seems like you and I are going to be at odds on this one. I don’t believe you understand how fire taxes work, I could be wrong, but that is my impression. If you understand how they work, and you still advocate what you are advocating, I don’t know what to think of it. You are asking me to continue to pay the county as if it is providing me with services that it wouldn’t be providing to me AND pay the city to provide the services that the county isn’t providing. Sonny, how can you reconcile that? I don’t understand. Do you realize that is what you are asking of me? Sonny, I like my money and I want to keep as much of it as I can. If I were paying for additional service, that might be okay, but to pay twice for services that I only get once? Why on earth would I want to do that? What you are saying, and I don’t think you realize what you are saying, is like asking me to go to the grocery store, check out, pay for my groceries, then wheel the cart back into the line, check out again, and pay for my groceries again. I cannot for the life of me understand why I, or you, or anyone else would ever want to do that. If I want to give away my money, I will do it through the charity of my choosing, not through the government. Sonny, I really don’t think you realize what you are asking of me. I know you too well to believe that you want me to pay twice for something I only need and/or get once. Even if I were getting the service twice, if I only need it once, I only want to pay for it once. Sonny, honestly, you have me a little bewildered here. I don’t get it. I do not understand what you are saying. My only conclusion is that you really, truly, don’t understand fire taxes and how they work. Perhaps that is the entire crux of the problem. Perhaps the reason we have this problem is that too many people don’t understand fire taxes and how they work. Fire taxes are probably the fairest form of taxes I have ever heard of in my life. They could be fairer if the county and the cities could collaborate on their boundaries and if the county could have plural districts. However, they are still the fairest form of taxes I know of, Sonny. Everyone ends up essentially paying for the type and amount of services that are provided to them. What could be more fair than that? Anything beyond that is creating a social engineering project where you are taking money from one person to give to another. Sonny, I don’t think that is what you want. Fire taxes spread costs across a relatively small group of people based on the needs that exist in that area. The group is relatively large enough to create economies of scale, yet small enough not to cause one group to have to pay for another group’s services. If you think I don’t understand fire taxes, and how they work, perhaps you are right. Please explain them to me. I could be wrong. However, please don’t just say that I am wrong, prove me wrong. If you can prove that I don’t understand fire districts, I will gladly admit that I was wrong. However, if you can’t prove me wrong, and you still want to just let the county to continue to take our money and us spend money on a fire department at the same time, please explain why, because I sincerely and honestly don’t get it.

  87. Shawn Donovan

    Butch I agree with you to the most part that fire districts are the way to go, but I to like most agree that Mt. Juliet taking over its own fire protection would be the way to go. I like everyone doesn’t want to be double taxed if possible to pay for services, since I’m currently doing that with Mt Juliet PD and Wilson County Sheriffs Department.

    My idea or thoughts about the fire tax district would be to break down the services provided by WEMA into 4 distinct different divisions (Administration/EMA/Rescue/Hazmat, Fire, Ambulance, and Dispatch). The Admin/EMA/Rescue/Hazmat Division would paid be paid by all residents of Wilson County since we all benefit from those items, Fire Division would be paid for with Fire Tax Districts, EMS Division would be paid out of the Ambulance Fund, and Dispatch Division would be paid 50% by Fire Tax District and 50% by Ambulance Fund.

    With the fire tax district I would have 8 fire tax districts that tie directly to the Fire Station response area, i.e. Fire Tax District 3 would include all the residents in the unincorporated area that is covered by Station 3. All the fire tax districts would generate money only from the unincorporated areas of Wilson County with the cities of Lebanon, Mt. Juliet, and Watertown all be exempt or being its own individual district. So with doing that the city residents of Lebanon, Mt. Juliet, and Watertown would see a drop in their property tax rate based on percent of fire tax they pay for city services.

    What is your thoughts about that so far before I got into more detail on what each district would fund for their own station and at HQ relating to Fire?

  88. Butch Huber

    Shawn, what you are proposing is illegal. There no provisions in the law that would allow for your plan. Everything the county does requires a statute that either directly authorizes it or reasonably indirectly authorizes it. There is a title and chapter that allows for an Ambulance service, that chapter includes Statutes §7-61-101—7-61-104. It only includes ambulance service. It does not include the other emergency services now provided by WEMA or the Countywide Fire Department. If a county is going to be in the emergency services business, it has only a couple options, It can do so under Title 5, chapter 16, “urban services”, or it can do so under title 5, chapter 17. Our county choose chapter 17. We have a countywide fire department. That countywide fire department includes all non-police emergency services. It is required of the countywide fire department by statutes and by resolution that those services now provided under WEMA be included in the countywide fire department. We, meaning you, and I, and anyone else involved, don’t get to choose what is and isn’t in the countywide fire department, that was decided by law and by resolution. I see no provision, other than 7-61-101–7-61-104 for ambulance only, that the county is authorized by law to segregate out other emergency services and place them under any other statutorily authorized agency or construction. This was all decided by the General Assembly of the state of Tennessee.
    The County is competing with private industry in the provision of emergency services, therefore it must compete in accordance with very strict guidelines and for very narrow purposes under which the county and the state have a compelling interest. Otherwise the government is interfering with capitalism and free enterprise. In other words, if I wanted to establish my own emergency services organization for profit or not-for-profit, I would be in competition with the government, which has virtually unlimited powers to tax the people of the county. That sets up an unfair business practice if the county doesn’t have a compelling reason to be in the business, but is. It would be no different, if there isn’t a compelling reason, for the federal government getting into the automobile industry…oh, wait, that has already happened. Are you getting your dividend check? I haven’t received mine. I want my shares of GM, don’t you?
    Shawn, the plan that I have put together, so far, is the only plan that I have seen or heard of that comports with all of the laws and statutes, and even then there may be some reason to doubt based on a 2009 general attorney’s opinion regarding funding some of the non-fire emergency services. If my plan doesn’t work, I am afraid there is no possible construction that meets all statutory requirements and limitations.
    If they were to give the matter to you guys, and let you make the laws, it would probably be the best outcome from a public safety standpoint. I am not sure we could afford what you guys would come up with on your own because your focus is on mitigating damages and responding to calls to save life, limb, and property, as it should be. If they were to give this over to some fiscal conservative, capitalist, entrepreneurial not job like me, who isn’t also deeply concerned about public safety, the county wouldn’t be allowed to be in the emergency services business at all.
    I do believe, given the current set of laws, my plan is the best plan possible. In fact, I think it is the only plan possible. I also think it leads to maximum coverage with minimal investment. Also, everything is under one department for the county, with possible variations that are almost limitless for a joint or cooperative effort between the county and other counties and cities, and between cities and other counties and cities. When it comes to emergency services, you want a well defined plan with lots of options and contingencies. In an emergency, you don’t have time to think through everything in detail, you have to have already thought it through and now it is time to act. When it is time to act, you need to have lots of plays that you can call. If you don’t have a comprehensive, cohesive, all encompassing plan, you don’t have much at all.
    One of the things you want to do in management is to break down barriers to communication and remove obstacles to productivity and effectiveness. Having multiple units, operated under multiple directors or supervisors, seems like it would reduce effectiveness and efficiency. It is all emergency services and public safety. It should, in my opinion, be all kept under one hat with as few divisions as possible. However, I don’t do what you do for a living, so I don’t know for sure what to think of your plan. My plan is a macro plan that would depend on guys like you to handle the micro plan. My plan is the framework, you guys get to paint the picture. To me, that is the best way to do things. Let someone who is concerned about the bottom line be involved in building the framework, let someone who is concerned about functionality be involved in the development of the walls, ceilings and floors.

  89. Sonny Griffin

    Butch,

    I say we need to opt out of our present situation (all emergency services including fire suppression) and begin to start working on establishing our own emergency services.

    We need to sue the county for the money that has been stolen from us for years for services we did not get. We need to use that money in building our own emergency services program.

    In that lawsuit, an independent audit (which has already been done) would show how much of MJ’s property taxes paid to the county has been used by WEMA outside of services provided to MJ by WEMA. The court would adjust our property taxes by that amount The city of MJ would no longer pay the county for services provided by WEMA. No judge in the US is going to make someone pay for something they are not getting.

    MJ would be paying for only the services that it gets. City property taxes would go up by the amount that county property taxes go down and would offset each other. The MJ taxpayer would pay no more than he/she does today, we would have our own emergency services and we would never again be threatened by the county to abandon emergency services in our city.

    MJ would contract with the county to provide emergency services outside the city limits and would also charge a service fee for all calls.

    You say:

    “You are asking me to continue to pay the county as if it is providing me with services that it wouldn’t be providing to me AND pay the city to provide the services that the county isn’t providing.”

    How can you possibly get that out of what I have posted?

    If you opt out of something, you certainly don’t pay for it.

    I think I understand fire tax districts fairly well. You certainly haven’t told me anything that I didn’t already know.

    You say:

    “Fire taxes are probably the fairest form of taxes I have ever heard of in my life. They could be fairer if the county and the cities could collaborate on their boundaries and if the county could have plural districts. However, they are still the fairest form of taxes I know of, Sonny. Everyone ends up essentially paying for the type and amount of services that are provided to them. What could be more fair than that?”

    What I really don’t understand is why you want to opt out of the fire tax district if fire taxes are so wonderful??? Please answer this question specifically.

    Please don’t say so that MJ can provide its own emergency services.

    You can do that under the present situation and you are free to make deals with the county if you want to.

    How does your “plan” insure that the MJ taxpayer does not pay twice for emergency services? Please answer this question specifically.

    Concerning fire taxes you, you also say:

    “Fire taxes spread costs across a relatively small group of people based on the needs that exist in that area. The group is relatively large enough to create economies of scale, yet small enough not to cause one group to have to pay for another group’s services.”

    Is that what you think happens when county-wide fire departments are funded by fire taxes?

    Here’s what TCA § 5-17-105 says:

    (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.

    In other words, we would have one fire district comprising the entire unincorporated area of Wilson County. MJ would not be a part of that district so the county would not furnish any emergency services to MJ.
    The only way MJ could get emergency services with this scheme is to contract with the county for them. MJ is automatically opted out until an agreement is reached with the county. There are only two choices here, contract with the county for inclusion in the fire district or furnish your own emergency services.

    Can’t see how this spreads the cost around. This is a really bad idea because we are back dealing with the county on their terms if we decide to participate. One thing I really like about this though is that we are automatically opted out until we choose to step in the dog s*#! again.

    We need to establish our own emergency services in MJ and leave the county completely out of it. I, personally, see no other choice.

  90. Butch Huber

    Sonny, either I don’t understand fire taxes, or you don’t understand fire taxes. First off, I am not so optimistic that a lawsuit would return our money to us. That battle would rage on for years. Since Wilson County has continued to provide emergency services to Mt. Juliet, albeit sparsely, the judge would be able to say that you received the services as if the county had established fire districts and the city opted into the fire district, therefore you have no case. Arguing against that logic would be a very long uphill battle. I agree that we have been ripped off, and I would like my money back, but I just don’t see that happening. Unless you and I were able to get an awful lot of people who were willing to risk their money to fight that suit, that suit isn’t going to happen because this city isn’t about to sue the county for that cause.

    Sonny, you say:

    “I say we need to opt out of our present situation (all emergency services including fire suppression) and begin to start working on establishing our own emergency services.”

    I suppose we could opt out of the current situation. The county would say, okay, great, opt out. We will continue to charge you the same rate of property taxes as the rest of the county and you can also pay for your own emergency services. We will use the money we take from you to provide services to Lebanon and Watertown, as well as the unincorporated portions of Wilson County.

    You say:

    “We need to sue the county for the money that has been stolen from us for years for services we did not get. We need to use that money in building our own emergency services program.”

    I say:
    Great idea, I am with you in spirit. It just ain’t gonna happen. Unless you have deep pockets and are prepared to finance that lawsuit, or unless we could get enough people to spread the costs of that lawsuit, that lawsuit will never happen. Even if it did happen, I don’t know that you would ever see the money. The amount you are talking about would be rather large. As it turns out, the county seems to have been illegally operating emergency services since 1966. For much of that time, the balance of payments were probably in the favor of Mt. Juliet. I think once you did the factoring of things and adjusted for inflation and what not, it would be possible that the total balance of payments was even or even in our favor. It could be an enormous amount of money, but who knows which way the payment would actually go? I would have no way to figure that out anyway. The brainpower and time it would take to figure that would be enormous. I think a judge would say that there is no remedy for past actions and only rule on future actions, but I could be wrong.

    You say:

    “In that lawsuit, an independent audit (which has already been done) would show how much of MJ’s property taxes paid to the county has been used by WEMA outside of services provided to MJ by WEMA. The court would adjust our property taxes by that amount The city of MJ would no longer pay the county for services provided by WEMA. No judge in the US is going to make someone pay for something they are not getting.”

    I say:

    Sonny, I do not believe that a judge can adjust our property taxes. I believe that it is illegal for him to adjust our property taxes. I believe that all areas of a county must pay the same rate of property taxes. I believe that is one of the articles of the constitution of the State of Tennessee. You can have a fire tax, and the county can adjust its property tax rate downwardly to offset the county fire tax, but I do not think that a judge could lower the property tax rate in Mt. Juliet or in the unincorporated portions of the county.

    You say:
    “MJ would be paying for only the services that it gets. City property taxes would go up by the amount that county property taxes go down and would offset each other. The MJ taxpayer would pay no more than he/she does today, we would have our own emergency services and we would never again be threatened by the county to abandon emergency services in our city.”

    I say:
    Unless you force the county to stop the charade it is playing regarding which funds it uses to pay for the costs of the countywide fire department, they will continue to act as if they are paying for it using situs based taxes and other sources of revenues that have already been shared with the municipalities while they are really paying for those services using our property taxes. Therefore, you will still be paying for the emergency services provided to the Unincorporated portions of the county, to Lebanon, and to Watertown and so will I. You would be paying for the services we get in Mt. Juliet through a city property tax, plus you would be paying for at least one quarter, if not more like 30% to 40% of all of the rest of the county’s emergency services. Unless we have an arrangement where we are providing services to the unincorporated portions of the county outside of Mt. Juliet, we would not be able to take advantage of economies of scale. That would mean it would take more money than what the county has been investing in Mt. Juliet. Even if you lowered the property taxes based on what the county has been charging us for services that it hasn’t been giving us, if we don’t build in economies of scale, our property taxes will go up even further than the $.20 the city has already raise them. This could be offset by fees for service, but that hasn’t been a part of this conversation yet. Right now we are just dealing with fire taxes. Sonny, I don’t know if you realize it, but what you are describing is what happens with fire taxes.

    You say:

    “MJ would contract with the county to provide emergency services outside the city limits and would also charge a service fee for all calls.”

    I say:

    Sonny, you are talking about expecting the county to be willing to do what is in its best interests. If you sue the county, based on what I have seen thus far from most of them, they would cut off their noses to spite their faces and there would be no way to get a contract out of them. That is why I have been doing all that I can to remove their arrows so that they will sit down and negotiate this deal. You are dealing with irrational people here. Irrational people always do irrational things unless doing something rational seemed irrational to them or by mistake. You always have to know your opponent and it is best if you can turn your opponents into allies. They have to know that you will sue them, but they have to be assured that if they work with you, you will refrain from doing so.

    You say:

    ““You are asking me to continue to pay the county as if it is providing me with services that it wouldn’t be providing to me AND pay the city to provide the services that the county isn’t providing.”

    How can you possibly get that out of what I have posted?

    If you opt out of something, you certainly don’t pay for it.

    I think I understand fire tax districts fairly well. You certainly haven’t told me anything that I didn’t already know.”

    I say:

    Sonny, the county isn’t using, or at least they are pretending that they are not using, property taxes to pay for fire protection services in this county. They say that they are using the alternative form of funding to cover the countywide fire department and that they have a countywide service for ambulance and rescue and all emergency services except for fire. If you opt out, under the current configuration, and unless you prove the county is illegally operating WEMA and the Countywide Fire Department and that they have to establish fire taxes, they will continue that charade. That means that you necessarily will continue to pay the full amount you are currently paying the county plus you will pay the cost of the city fire department. The only way that you get the county to stop using your money to pay for the services in the rest of the county is through fire taxes. You have to prove that they don’t have enough money in the other sources of revenues to pay for what the countywide fire department really consists of, which isn’t just fire suppression as they purport it to be, but all non-police emergency services the county provides, including ambulance, first aid, public assistance, rescue, water rescue, etc. Then they have to have another source of revenue to use, and the only other source of revenue that they are authorized to use are fire taxes. Once they charge fire taxes you no longer pay for the rest of the county and we only pay for our own services. The county can no longer get away with pretending not to use your property taxes to pay for emergency services while all the while it is using your property taxes.

    You say:

    ““Fire taxes are probably the fairest form of taxes I have ever heard of in my life. They could be fairer if the county and the cities could collaborate on their boundaries and if the county could have plural districts. However, they are still the fairest form of taxes I know of, Sonny. Everyone ends up essentially paying for the type and amount of services that are provided to them. What could be more fair than that?”

    What I really don’t understand is why you want to opt out of the fire tax district if fire taxes are so wonderful??? Please answer this question specifically.

    Please don’t say so that MJ can provide its own emergency services.

    You can do that under the present situation and you are free to make deals with the county if you want to.

    How does your “plan” insure that the MJ taxpayer does not pay twice for emergency services? Please answer this question specifically. ”

    I say:
    I would opt out of the fire tax because by instituting fire taxes there would be a differential between what those who are in the fire districts pay in taxes and what those who are not in the fire district pay. In other words, we would all pay the same property taxes, but the fire taxes would increase the amount those who live inside the fire district pay. Now, the county could lower the property taxes in this county to offset or partially offset the amount that they are going to charge in fire taxes, however, they probably won’t. They will probably add the fire taxes on top of the current property tax rates and blame the difference on Mt. Juliet. Why would they do that? Because the county isn’t taking in enough in taxes now, or they are spending our taxes in areas other than fire protection, and they need more money to be going toward protection. Regardless, whatever the delta is between what those in the fire districts pay and what we pay the county is what we could charge emergency services in Mt. Juliet and we would still be even with them, but would have greatly enhanced services in this city. If we could spread those costs across a broader base in an arrangement with the county it would be even better for us because of the economies of scale. If we wanted to, we could opt to join the fire tax district, but only if the county were willing to play nice. If we could make Mt. Juliet a fire tax district, and not be a part of the large countywide fire district, or if the county had more flexibility for defining and designing fire districts and could make the urban areas of the county, including Mt. Juliet (if we opted in) a fire district, it would be even better.

    Sonny, as I understand fire taxes, if we are going to be taxed, I love just about everything about them.

    Fire taxes give Mt. Juliet the option of providing its own emergency services using monies that we now pay the county without getting the service. Fire taxes also give the city bargaining power to work deals with the county. Right now, our only bargaining chip is that the county doesn’t have a fire station in this area and they have to provide fire suppression to the unincorporated portions of the county and they have to provide all other emergency services to both the unincorporated portions of the county also. The county was prepared to stage all their equipment and personnel at Rutland Elementary School so that we wouldn’t even have the station as a bargaining chip. You are dealing with irrational people who are willing to go to whatever length they can to force this city into a property tax and to force us to have our own fire department. Sonny, why do you think they want this so badly? The answer is simple…they want more of our money. Why do you think they fight property taxes so much? The answer is simple…if we have fire taxes it is much harder for them to steal from us and they have to contrive another scheme. Ending fire taxes was a stroke of genius on their part. They knew exactly what they were doing and Mt. Juliet was asleep at the switch…or perhaps it was planned. In the broad scope of things, Mt. Juliet is getting the rawest deal in this county. Why? Because we don’t have fire taxes.

    You say: (I know I posted this before, but I want to honor your request to answer this question specifically so I reposted it as a single post so that you will know that this is my specific answer.)
    “How does your “plan” insure that the MJ taxpayer does not pay twice for emergency services? Please answer this question specifically. ”

    Sonny, it ensures that we don’t pay twice because under fire taxes the costs of the countywide fire department, including all non-police emergency services, are calculated based on who is in the fire district only. So if you don’t live in that district you don’t pay. If the county were allowed to continue as they are currently doing things, you would pay a city property tax to pay for the services that you get from the city, but the county would also be taxing you as if they are paying for emergency services using the alternative form of funding as the funding source while they were really using your property taxes to pay for them. Under my plan, the city would charge us a city property tax rate to cover our distributive share of the costs of emergency services, and the county would pay us to cover the costs of providing those services to those who live in the unincorporated portions of the county.

    Sonny, I think we are on the same wavelengths here, however, the difference is that you seem to think you can get there without fire taxes and I am quite certain that you can’t. I think I could prove that to you if we were face to face looking at this together instead of blogging about it.

    You say:

    ““Fire taxes spread costs across a relatively small group of people based on the needs that exist in that area. The group is relatively large enough to create economies of scale, yet small enough not to cause one group to have to pay for another group’s services.”

    Is that what you think happens when county-wide fire departments are funded by fire taxes?

    Here’s what TCA § 5-17-105 says:

    (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.

    In other words, we would have one fire district comprising the entire unincorporated area of Wilson County. MJ would not be a part of that district so the county would not furnish any emergency services to MJ.
    The only way MJ could get emergency services with this scheme is to contract with the county for them. MJ is automatically opted out until an agreement is reached with the county. There are only two choices here, contract with the county for inclusion in the fire district or furnish your own emergency services.

    Can’t see how this spreads the cost around. This is a really bad idea because we are back dealing with the county on their terms if we decide to participate. One thing I really like about this though is that we are automatically opted out until we choose to step in the dog s*#! again.

    We need to establish our own emergency services in MJ and leave the county completely out of it. I, personally, see no other choice.”

    Yes, Sonny, that is what I think happens with fire taxes. Those who live in a fire district pay for the costs of the services that they get and they get the services that they pay for. Those who don’t live in the fire district don’t pay for the services provided in that district, but they don’t get those services either. It spreads the costs around within that district. No, Sonny, we aren’t dealing with the county on their terms if we opt in, we are dealing with the county on mutual terms if we opt in, or we don’t opt in. Our fall back position would be to do what you suggest and establish the city fire department sans county involvement if they don’t want to play fair, but at least under my plan we wouldn’t be paying for everyone else’s services anymore. I think the only real differences you and I have is that you believe you can get to the same place I would take us without establishing fire taxes, I don’t believe that is possible given the existing statutes. As long as the county can rip this city off, it will rip this city off. Fire taxes close the door on that, however, I don’t believe your plan is able to stop them from continuing this charade. They have the comptroller bamboozled, Sonny. He think what they are doing is legal. It is highly illegal, and the Comptroller doesn’t realize it. They cannot provide emergency services through the civil defense statutes, they established a countywide fire department that includes all emergency services formerly provided by WEMA and/or now provided by WEMA and the countywide fire department, the only place that they are statutorily authorized to provide those services is the countywide fire department. The countywide fire department must have sufficient funds to pay for the countywide fire department inclusive of all emergency services using the alternative forms of funding or it has to use fire taxes. The county cannot cover all of those services using the alternative forms of funding therefore it must do it through fire taxes, it isn’t a choice, it is a mandate.

    Let’s shorten the debate. The county cannot operate WEMA as a provider of, or management agency of another agency that is a provider of, regular emergency services. I believe I can sufficiently prove that case. There are no other provisions in the law that would allow the county to provide emergency services countywide other than the countywide fire department chapter. The county cannot us the alternative forms of funding to cover the costs of the countywide fire department because there are not enough revenues to cover them. If the county doesn’t have sufficient funds to cover the costs of the countywide fire department using the alternative forms of funding it must establish fire tax districts and levy a fire tax. Sonny, they have to establish fire districts and levy a fire tax, it is their only legal option if they are going to have a countywide fire department. No amount of talking about this is going to change that fact. Once the county realizes that fire taxes are an inevitability, they will have to start looking for options. My plan gives them the best options and it provides the opportunity to have optimum levels of coverage in each area of the county based on need vs cost equations/desire vs cost equations. Each area of the county gets to decide how they want to be covered for the costs of fire protection. The county has been reluctant to increase the amount it spends on emergency services because to increase the costs of those services forces them to have fire taxes. Once they have fire taxes, and once they realize they aren’t going back the other way again, they will hopefully look at emergency services in a more sober and mature manner.

    As far as the back and forth on this between you and I, I think we have the same goals, we just believe that we can take different paths to get to the same destination. You think my path is the wrong path, while I think your path has a road block in it that you can’t go through, over, under or around. I think my path is the only legal path, and for me to accomplish my goals as far as my interaction with government, I have to go down paths that I think are legal. I think your path is an illegal path, therefore I can’t take it even if there were no road blocks. I want government to operate legally and not just make concessions that everyone involved agrees that if the agreement is reached that they will go their own separate ways and not cause waves. If we don’t have a durable legal solution we don’t have a solution. The county will be back here holding this over our heads in 4 to 8 years if we have an illegal solution.

  91. Sonny Griffin

    Butch,

    The only reason we get emergency services from WEMA is through an interlocal agreement (contract) between MJ and the county. If we don’t renew that agreement we opt out and MJ does not receive those services anymore. Therefore, we don’t pay for those services anymore. That is all perfectly legal. This is not some exotic plan it is simply a slam dunk.

    Do you realize what you are proposing to get to the same results?

    You want to force the county to go to fire taxes because you think WEMA is an illegal operation.

    You say:

    “Sonny, they have to establish fire districts and levy a fire tax, it is their only legal option if they are going to have a countywide fire department.”

    I don’t think WEMA is an illegal operation and even if you proved that it was the county would just delegate CD services to it and delegate conventional emergency services to the county-wide fire department. That is, again, perfectly legal. How do you propose to get the county to establish fire taxes? They hate fire taxes and frankly so do I. They certainly don’t legally have to establish a fire district and I personally think hell will freeze over before fire taxes are established in Wilson County under present state law.

    You think you are just going to tell the county that you think WEMA is an illegal operation and they are going to establish a fire district in Wilson County? Come on, Butch. Again, want to file that complaint?

    Honestly, Butch, I can’t tell whether you want MJ to be included in the fire tax district if established or not. Which is it? Are you proposing that MJ establishes its own emergency services or are you saying you want MJ to make a deal with the county for our emergency services?

    It’s got to be one or the other. Please tell us which route your plan takes.

    You say:

    “The county has to operate by fire taxes. If they are going to be in the emergency services business they must operate in accordance with the law. The law says that they have to charge a fire tax and establish a fire district. Why? Because they operate a countywide fire department and they don’t have enough money available from the alternative funding source in order to operate it from those funds, therefore they have to, by law, establish fire districts and levy a fire tax.”

    They can only levy that fire tax in the unincorporated areas of Wilson County. Services are rendered through contracts with the municipalities.

    All the county has to do in our present situation is renegotiate the contract it now has with MJ to provide any level of service that MJ desires. The county could provide a menu of services to MJ with a cost for different services. MJ could have 50 ambulances if we wanted to pay for them. Perfectly legal. If MJ does not want to participate, it just opts out. Fire districts are a choice, not a mandate.

  92. Butch Huber

    Sonny,

    Why do you hate fire districts?

    Can you explain to me how fire districts work. Perhaps I am not seeing something you see, or perhaps you really don’t know how fire taxes work. It doesn’t seem to be working for me to explain them to you.

    When you say that the county can only levy fire taxes in the unincorporated areas of the county, you are wrong. If a city opts in to the fire tax district, the county may levy a fire tax on the property in that municipality. They just can’t levy a fire tax unless the city opts in to the fire tax.

    You say that we can opt out of the present situation and then we won’t be paying the county for emergency services again. Okay, Sonny, tell me exactly what you are paying the county for emergency services now. Can you give me a figure? No, you can’t give me a figure, because, according to the county, you don’t pay for fire protection at all, and all the other services are provided by WEMA using your property taxes to pay for them. In reality what they are really doing is they are using your property taxes to pay for all non-police emergency services. Do you think that, when Mt. Juliet establishes its own fire department the county is going to lower your property taxes? It isn’t going to happen. Do you think that a judge is going to lower your property taxes because Mt. Juliet provides its own emergency services? It isn’t going to happen. So, out of what you pay the county now, they provide the sparse level of emergency services that you now receive. Once we establish our own fire department, you will be paying the exact same amount of money to the county that you are now providing to them, only you won’t be getting even the sparse level of emergency services that you now receive. They would move their assets and personnel to other locations and then you would be paying for the unincorporated portion of the county and Lebanon and Watertown to have even more emergency services from the county. If I were in one of those areas I would be loving the increase in services I would be getting without having to pay one red cent more in order to receive them.

    Let’s say that your contribution to the county that is put toward emergency services is $200 per year. After you implement your plan, you would still be paying the county $200 per year. How would you experience any type of drop in the amount of money that you are paying the county? You would be paying exactly the same $200. Now, let’s say that those who live elsewhere in the county are also paying $200 toward emergency services. Let’s say that they are getting $200 worth of services. After your plan is put in place, they would be getting perhaps $210 worth of emergency services from the county, they would be paying $200 for that service, you would be paying $200 toward that service, but you would be getting none of the service. Fire taxes fixes that, but you hate them, and for the life of me I don’t understand why. What exactly is it about fire taxes that you hate?

    Sonny, I don’t have to drive a stake in the ground as to whether I would opt in or remain out of the fire taxing district if I were the decision maker of such things. You want me to pick a side. I am saying that Fire Taxes give us a whole myriad of options. The city could opt into the fire taxing district, we would pay our fire taxes just like the people who live in the unincorporated portion of the county, and the county would provide us with emergency services. The city could stipulate in the contract that if the county wanted to partner with us and provide us with services, they have to meet certain standards, terms and conditions. Would the county agree? Hell, I don’t know, but, because they are saying that they are using alternative forms of funding now, we have absolutely no real leverage with them. With fire taxes, the city could remain opted out of the fire taxes, or the city can opt in to the fire taxes, so the city controls the purse strings. If the county were to set the property taxes at $.25 per hundred dollars assessed value, the city would have control of perhaps as much as $1.5 to $1.8 million worth of money that the county could have to use to help pay for the costs of emergency services in this county. The county could also get about $500k to another $1m in ambulance fees for services, and perhaps another $200 to $500 in rescue fees for services. They could be looking at potentially getting as much as $2.2 million to $3.3 million dollars out of this city altogether if they play nicely. Additionally, if the city didn’t feel that the services we were getting for our $2.2 to $3.3 million was enough service, and if the city felt that the county was giving our money’s worth, the city could tax us more and pay the county in order to elevate services to the level that is appropriate for this city. If the county didn’t take that deal we wouldn’t pay the county fire tax. So, if the county kept the rate of property taxes at $2.437 per $100 assessed value, and charged a 25 cent fire tax, those who live in the unincorporated portion of the county would pay $2.687 per $100 assessed value and we would be paying the $2.437 per hundred dollars assessed value. The county could not use any money that it takes in from the fire taxes to provide services to this city in that scenario, nor could it use that money in Lebanon or Watertown unless they opted in and paid the fire tax.

    Sonny, honestly, tell me what you don’t like about fire taxes. Under fire taxes, either Mt. Juliet, Lebanon and Watertown join the fire taxes under contract with the county or they don’t get a dime’s worth of the services provided by the county. The unincorporated portion of the county would have to pay the fire tax regardless of what they want to do because that is how the law is written. Yes, Sonny, it is a mandate. If the county cannot cover the costs of its emergency services using the alternative form of funding authorized in T.C.A. 5-17-101, they have to use fire taxes if they are going to continue to provide emergency services. This isn’t a choice, it is a mandate. It is the default method of payment. You have to remember, before the amendment, fire taxes were the “ONLY” way that a county could fund a countywide fire department. Sonny, I believe that the only reason that the alternative form of funding was put in place was because it gave the county a chance to siphon money out of West Wilson County so that it could spend that money elsewhere in the county.

    Sonny, I am truly perplexed that you don’t like fire taxes.

    Would you answer a couple questions for me?

    If the city were to opt out of the current situation, how would you no longer be paying the county for the services that they provide to this city now? What would change there and how would it change.

    Exactly what is it in particular about fire taxes that you don’t like. Please be specific. Perhaps if you answer this question I can see how I am wrong or you can see how you are wrong. I think you are a very smart person, we seem to be on the same wavelength on so many things, and yet we are so diametrically opposed here. I think one of us must not be seeing something that the other sees. I am willing to accept the possibility that the person not seeing clearly here is me, are you willing to accept the possibility that you are the one who isn’t seeing clearly?

  93. Butch Huber

    Sonny,

    You say:
    “The only reason we get emergency services from WEMA is through an interlocal agreement (contract) between MJ and the county. If we don’t renew that agreement we opt out and MJ does not receive those services anymore. Therefore, we don’t pay for those services anymore. That is all perfectly legal. This is not some exotic plan it is simply a slam dunk.”

    I say:

    This isn’t true. The only reason we get “fire suppression” from the countywide fire department is because of an interlocal agreement between the county and the city. The reason we get all of the other services from the county is because the county thinks it can provide those services through WEMA. They think that they have a countywide emergency services platform outside of the Countywide Fire Department under WEMA. That is why we get those services.

  94. Sonny Griffin

    Butch,

    Let me answer your second post first. I don’t have time to answer your first post right now but I assure you I will.

    I say:
    “The only reason we get emergency services from WEMA is through an interlocal agreement (contract) between MJ and the county. If we don’t renew that agreement we opt out and MJ does not receive those services anymore. Therefore, we don’t pay for those services anymore. That is all perfectly legal. This is not some exotic plan it is simply a slam dunk.”

    You say:

    This isn’t true. The only reason we get “fire suppression” from the countywide fire department is because of an interlocal agreement between the county and the city. The reason we get all of the other services from the county is because the county thinks it can provide those services through WEMA. They think that they have a countywide emergency services platform outside of the Countywide Fire Department under WEMA. That is why we get those services.

    You seem to have a real problem with the concept of WEMA being the embodiment of the county-wide fire department. The attorney general doesn’t seem to have that problem.

    From 92-134:

    “While civil defense organizations are authorized to provide fire fighting services, it is the opinion of this office that the civil defense provisions do not cover regular fire protection services such as those provided by Wilson County Emergency Management Agency. The definitions in T.C.A. §58-2-101 indicate that civil defense functions are aimed at addressing emergencies of great proportions.”

    The Attorney General seems to be saying that civil defense statutes have no role in WEMA. They are aimed at “emergencies of great proportions”.
    There goes your “illegal operation” theory.

    He goes on to say:

    “Moreover, the information available to this office supports the conclusion that the Wilson County Emergency Management agency is essentially a countywide fire department as contemplated in §§5-17-101—5-17-108. The agency provides regular fire protection services for the county, as well as other emergency services. T.C.A. gives county-wide fire departments the authority to provide emergency services other than fire protection. See, e.g., T.C.A. §5-17-102(a) (9), (11), (14).”

    What is it about this opinion you don’t understand?

    Are you disagreeing with the Attorney General? You have every right to, Butch, but you have a real uphill battle in court if you do.

    Sounds like you may be drinking some of that Hutto cool-aid.

  95. Sonny Griffin

    Butch, on your first post:

    I don’t think anyone can explain fire tax districts to you because you are the self proclaimed expert in the matter.

    I certainly don’t know everything about fire tax districts but I will tell you what I think I understand based on my understanding of what I read in the law.

    We are talking about fire tax districts that fund county-wide fire departments. § 5-17-101 of the TCA says:

    (1) As authorized by §§ 5-17-105 — 5-17-107, the county legislative body may establish one (1) or more fire tax districts and levy an annual fire tax upon the property in each district for the purpose of funding the activities of the (county wide) fire department within that district;

    Notice that this section of the law says: ” As authorized by §§ 5-17-105 — 5-17-107″

    § 5-17-105 says that:

    (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.

    So, MJ may:

    “contract with the county for inclusion in such fire tax district as authorized by § 5-17-108.”

    § 5-17-108 says that:

    Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to limit in any way the fire departments of any municipality or utility district providing fire service, but merely authorizes such county fire protection service to contract with municipalities or utility districts in order to coordinate fire service county-wide.

    Butch, I notice the word “contract” used here. I don’t notice any wording saying the county may levy a fire tax on the municipalities or in fact, mention of any tax at all.

    Do you think a contract is a tax? Do you think that a city can levy a tax on itself with a contract? I don’t. But I don’t understand fire taxes like you do.

    Suppose we contract with the county to be included in the fire tax district. That works out really well as we have seen with our present situation. SOS right back where we started. Do you really want to depend on the county again for our emergency services?

    I think that’s the biggest difference between me and you. I’ve been living out here for over 50 years and the animosity between MJ and Wilson County has always been here. You really flatter yourself if you think you can put an end to this childish BS. It’s just not gonna go away. Does “big boy britches” come to mind? Therefore, working with the county on this matter is not doable. Believe me.

    Suppose you are right and MJ becomes a fire district. The county levies a tax on us sufficient to pay for emergency services furnished by the county-wide fire department. How do you think that’s going to work out , Butch?

    I’ve got to go get a little sleep now.

    I’ll try to answer the rest of your questions tomorrow or the next day.

    Maybe that answers your first question, but I doubt it.

  96. Butch Huber

    Sonny,

    I think you are getting a little testy, Sonny. I am not being condescending to you, I am leaving open the possibility that I am missing something. So far, you haven’t shown me anything that I can not bring back proof that you are incorrect in what you are saying. If you are going to say that I am wrong, fine, but at least be able to prove it if you do. You and I recently went back and forth on the subject that the Countywide Fire Department is a separate agency from the county. I didn’t see what you were saying at first, but then I finally got it. I was more than willing to say that you were right about that. Your pot shots at me are uncalled for, Sonny. One of us obviously is wrong. I think it is you, you think it is me. We can find out who without being disagreeable.

    You say:

    “You seem to have a real problem with the concept of WEMA being the embodiment of the county-wide fire department. The attorney general doesn’t seem to have that problem.”

    Sonny, WEMA and Civil Defense are the same thing. WEMA is the name of the organization established under the civil defense statutes. The county changed the name from Wilson County Civil Defense Unit to Wilson Emergency Management Agency in County Resolution 91-12-4 on the Sixteenth day of December, 1991. My illegal operations theory stands, and no, Sonny, I am not at odds with the attorney general’s opinion in U92-134, we are in total agreement on what he has stated. I think you probably didn’t realize that WEMA and Civil Defense are the same thing. Perhaps that is why we have the difference on this.

    You say:

    “Butch, I notice the word “contract” used here. I don’t notice any wording saying the county may levy a fire tax on the municipalities or in fact, mention of any tax at all.

    Do you think a contract is a tax? Do you think that a city can levy a tax on itself with a contract? I don’t. But I don’t understand fire taxes like you do.

    Suppose we contract with the county to be included in the fire tax district. That works out really well as we have seen with our present situation. SOS right back where we started. Do you really want to depend on the county again for our emergency services?

    Sonny, you have missed something I think. Please read the following:

    “contract with the county for inclusion in such fire tax district as authorized by § 5-17-108.” Notice where it says, “inclusion in such fire district”. My interpretation of that is that the city contracts with the county to ensure that the city gets the services that it wants in return for being included in the fire tax. The county collects the tax and is then allowed to provide services to the city using that fire tax.

    Sonny, you say:

    I think that’s the biggest difference between me and you. I’ve been living out here for over 50 years and the animosity between MJ and Wilson County has always been here. You really flatter yourself if you think you can put an end to this childish BS. It’s just not gonna go away. Does “big boy britches” come to mind? Therefore, working with the county on this matter is not doable. Believe me.

    I say:

    No, I don’t think I can put an end to it, Sonny. I think perhaps, by settling this issue, we can settle a lot of the BS. You are never going to convince someone against their will, Sonny, you know that. However, if you take away most of what they are bitching about it makes them look silly when they bitch.

    Also, Sonny, at least I am trying. Who else in this entire county is actually trying to bring everyone together? I don’t see anyone working to build a bridge except for me. All I see is divisiveness.

    Hating costs money, Sonny. I don’t have money to throw at hatred. There are so many options that open up under fire taxes I am sure we can get to a place where we are in agreement if all sides are willing to give, and if they don’t give, at least I will only be paying once for the services that I receive.

    I asked you to describe how fire taxes work. You said you don’t have time right now. Fair enough. However, I am still intrigued about why you hate them. Sonny, you and I see to think the same way about things philosophically and politically, so it would seem to stand to reason that one of us isn’t seeing fire taxes the same way. If I am wrong, show me I am wrong, if I am right, be willing to admit that I am right, just as I was willing to admit you were right, and let’s move on.

    However, if you are unable to communicate with me without taking pot shots, perhaps we should start. Sonny, throwing dispersions about a person’s character and using innuendos that would be considered to be dispersions is a sign that you are losing the debate. It is the same thing that every liberal on this site has done when engaged with me in debate. I asked you to pick apart my argument and show me the holes. Why would I do that if I wasn’t sincere? If I am wrong, I want to know that I am wrong. Sonny, in this case, I don’t think I am wrong. It took me a long, long time to understand the fire tax issue. It is so convoluted and so messed up it is really, really hard to understand. If I have said something to offend you, I apologize, I meant you no disrespect. If you don’t have the knowledge or the time to prove me wrong, then let’s stop. I don’t want to cause harm to our friendship because we disagree on something like this. If we can’t debate nicely, then you fight the fight your way and I will fight the fight mine.

  97. Shawn Donovan

    Based on what Sonny just wrote Butch, how would breaking the county into 8 Fire Districts and levy a fire tax for each district to pay for the costs for that district fire station operations and HQ expenses be illegal as you told me since WEMA operates a countywide fire department?

    (1) As authorized by §§ 5-17-105 — 5-17-107, the county legislative body may establish one (1) or more fire tax districts and levy an annual fire tax upon the property in each district for the purpose of funding the activities of the (county wide) fire department within that district

  98. Butch Huber

    Shawn, the county is not statutorily authorized to have WEMA operate a countywide fire department because an Emergency Management Agency is not authorized to operate a countywide fire department.

    WEMA “IS” the Civil Defense Unit that existed prior to December 16th, 1991. On December 16th, 1991, the Wilson County Civil Defense Unit ceased to exist by name, and instead, was renamed Wilson County Emergency Management Agency. I have the resolution sitting on my floor beside my desk as I write. WEMA is controlled by the Civil Defense Statutes and is the Embodiment of what is contemplated in the Civil Defense Statutes, not the embodiment of the Countywide Fire Department. Any resolution by the county that is illegal is by the fact that it is illegal, null and void. County Resolution R95-5-4, which established the countywide fire department, is either null and void in its entirety or to the extent necessary in order that it would be legal. If that resolution is null and void, then we don’t have a countywide fire department. If it is null and void to the extent that is necessary for the resolution to be legal, then we have a stand alone countywide fire department that is under the control and direction of John Jewell as Chief of the Countywide Fire Department (I think, if John Jewell was never appointed to the position of Chief of the Countywide Fire Department then we really have a mess). What we don’t have is a countywide fire department that is being legally operated under the control and direction of John Jewell as the WEMA director.

    Shawn, when a government is constructing something, it must comport with all laws. My interpretation of all of the statutes in the Countywide Fire Department is that, in order for the county to comply with all of the statutes, the only construction that is statutorily authorized is a countywide fire department that operates within a countywide fire district that consists of one fire district that encompasses all of the unincorporated portions of the county plus the territorial area of any incorporated municipality that has contracted with the county for inclusion in the one fire district within the county. I don’t like this construction, and it appears that an attempt has been made in the amendment in 1999, however, the amendment doesn’t appear to change the whole law, render the changes mute in my opinion.

    It appears that the county has to disconnect the Countywide Fire Department from WEMA, and operate the Countywide Fire Department independent of any other agency or organization or delegated the countywide fire department to some other agency, whatever that would be, that is statutorily authorized to act in the capacity of management of such an organization. The statutory requirements of an annual budget and all other requirements of the countywide fire department still must be met by the agency to which they delegate the powers and duties of the department. The county cannot escape the statutory requirements of 5-17-101 through 5-17-108 merely by delegating the department to another department. The requirements stand, and therefore, because the countywide fire department has not submitted a budget ever, the county is obviously in error.

    5-17-101. Formation.

    (d) A fire department established pursuant to this chapter may be funded through one (1) of the following methods:

    (1) As authorized by §§ 5-17-105 — 5-17-107, the county legislative body may establish one (1) or more fire tax districts and levy an annual fire tax upon the property in each district for the purpose of funding the activities of the fire department within that district;

    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.

    Do you see the dichotomy? 5-17-101 authorizes plural districts, however, what does 5-17-105 say? It says, in case of countywide fire districts as authorized by 5-17-101, the fire district SHALL comprise the entire county outside of any and all incorporated municipalities, which means the entire unincorporated area of the county inclusive, but that each and every 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. What all this means in broad-strokes, according to my non-attorney interpretation, is that the county must make the entire unincorporated area of the county one large fire tax district so that it is in compliance with both 5-17-101 and 5-17-105, and the cities may elect to opt in to the fire district, and have the same fire tax levied in the unincorporated portion of the county levied upon the property inside the city OR the city and county, may, according to 5-17-102, contract under some other non-fire-tax-district arrangement, for the county to provide fire protection inside the city. Unless there is some other logical interpretation that I am not seeing, this would appear to be the legal construction.

    You can’t have plural districts because the law is screwed up. We don’t have the right or power to supersede law in the construction of a countywide fire department. Until the law is cleaned up, it would appear, the county has no choice but to have one large fire district. I think the general assembly was originally trying to keep this much simpler. I think the original intent was that if the county was going to wade into the emergency services business, they must do so throughout the entire county or stay out of the business and let a private company take care of it. Government is supposed to provide for all of the people of the county the same. The General Assembly knew about the 14th amendment to the constitution of the United States and its equal protection clause. I think they knew that counties would try to provide services to some, but not all, of its citizens if the general assembly didn’t make sure that the county had no recourse except to provide service to all of the citizens. However, the county doesn’t have a right to infringe on the rights and powers of incorporated cities except as authorized by the general assembly. The general assembly, I believe, recognized that the security and safety needs inside of cities is vastly different than that needed in rural areas of the county, so I believe they protected the sovereignty of cities from encroachment by counties by limiting the county government. I think that, in an effort to construct a vehicle that would allow the county to siphon money from West Wilson County to other parts of the county, the amendment was put in place in 1999. You see, if the county has to use property taxes to provide fire protection services, it has to do so using fire taxes. Under fire taxes the game changes and it become more difficult for the county to siphon money from one area to another. So someone came up with the plan that allowed them to use the alternative forms of funding that they use today. That alternative form of funding allows the county to siphon money from the western part of this county, through smoke and mirrors, for use in other parts of the county. It is an illegal construction. So many things had to have fallen in place in order for them to get away with this for so long I find it hard to believe that it was not constructed this way intentionally for specific purposes. Ignorance of the law doesn’t account for all of this.

    Shawn, when you are reading law, you have to take into account the whole law. Much as when you read a bible, you can’t pull out one scripture and say, “thus says the Lord”. Each verse and each chapter has to be taken into account with all other text of the Bible, otherwise you end up with cults and false religion. When contracts are written, each and every article, section, and subsection must comport with every other article, section, or subsection or those articles, sections, and subsections are deemed to be in conflict with one another. What you have in 5-17-101 and 5-17-105 seems to be a conflict of laws. They seem to contradict one another. In contract law there is usually a clause that says something like: “In the event that a court of competent jurisdiction determines that one or more articles, sections, or subsections are in conflict with one another, the conflicting articles, sections, and/or subsections are repealed only in as much as is necessary in order for the articles, sections, and/or subsections to no longer be in conflict, and the remaining articles, sections, and subsections of this agreement shall remain in effect and in full force”. Laws work the same way, Shawn. You have to limit the authority of any statute in so much as is necessary in order for that statute and any other statute not to be in conflict with one another. The alternative would be to expand the authority of the more restricting statute and I don’t see that a being within the powers of the county commission. Thus, you can’t have 8 districts. No matter how great your plan is, and it could be exactly what we need, you can’t do it under current law. That is, if my interpretation of the law is correct. I believe it is correct, but then again, I didn’t go to harvard law school nor have I been a judge for 30 years. I can only give my layman’s opinion.

  99. Sonny Griffin

    Butch,

    Like I said, you think you can “build bridges” between MJ and Wilson County politicians and I don’t. I totally respect your opinion and God bless you if you can accomplish your goals. There is nothing I would like better than to see MJ and Wilson County come together. However, it all goes back to being a liberal vs. conservative thing and I don’t believe you or anyone else is going to crack that nut.

    Therefore, I know that any kind of agreement between the county and MJ is impossible. Look at the recent events. The relationship has eroded rather than getting better.

    I am for getting out from under the county and establishing our own emergency services as soon as possible. This is not about hatred, it is about facts.

    I think this will require litigation. The money that Wilson County seems to have stolen from us has to be accounted for. It has to be insured by the court that MJ is no longer paying for services it does not get. I really don’t believe that MJ can afford not to file suit against Wilson County.

    No, Butch, I don’t like fire districts because I don’t like anything to do with the county concerning emergency services. Nuff said.

    I think that trying to work with the county is against MJ’s best interest. The rest of the county can do what it wants to about emergency services. My only concern is for MJ.

    If I have said anything to offend you, I am truly sorry.

    I have stated my opinion, for what it’s worth and I have nothing else to say.

  100. Butch Huber

    To all: The county established fire districts through R95-5-4. The fire districts were constructed as follows:

    Fast response Fire Taxing District:
    Civil Districts 1,2,3,22,23,24, and 25 excluding any real property within the corporate limits of any municipalities within these civil districts. Included within this taxing district are those stations presently existing at Gladeville, Lakeview, and Mt. Juliet with fire fighting equipment.

    Delayed Response Fire Taxing District:
    Civil Districts 4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13,14,15,16,17,18,19,20,21 excluding any real property within the corporate city limits of any municipality located within these civil districts.

    The resolution says that the delayed district shall pay one-third (1/3) the total cost for fire fighting services.

    First off, I see a problem. Fire districts are supposed to be set up to pay for 100% of the costs of providing services to them. By saying that the county is going to charge the delayed response 1/3 the costs of providing fire fighting services, the county seems to be in violation of the law before they even get started.

    This resolution required that the county attorney and county finance director ask the cities if they wanted to opt in to the fire district. Watertown and Mt. Juliet opted in, Lebanon opted out.

    However, County Resolution S99-8-2 authorized the county to use the alternative form of funding provided for in the 1999 amendment to 5-17-101 as the form of funding that the county would use to pay for fire protection services in the “UNINCORPORATED” portion of the county. However, they never dissolved the fire taxing districts in that resolution. The fire tax districts actually still remain in effect and in full force. We actually have fire districts in this county now! The county is in error on this point as well. They used improper form in S99-8-82, S99-8-2 is null and void, and as such, the county is seriously in error. They can elect to choose to fund the fire department with the alternative forms of funding, however, they have to at the same time dissolve the fire taxing districts. From that point on, they can only use the alternative forms of funding to pay for the unincorporated portions of the county. Some other arrangement must be made between the county and the city for the continuation of services to the city. When the city opted into the countywide fire district, the act itself voided, in my opinion, the 1986 agreement. The city now operates as if it is part of the countywide fire department’s fire taxing district from a strictly legal aspect.

    What sloppy work on the part of the county! S99-8-2 should have had language in it that repealed the fire taxing districts established in R95-5-4. It did not contain that language, so any prior arrangement remains in full force. What a mess!

    We have fire districts and not fire taxes. That’s just great!

    Evidence that the fire taxing districts were never dissolved by S99-8-2 is the language in the resolution whereby the county commission must determine each year which form of funding it will use to fund the countywide fire department. One would have to conclude that the county intended each year to determine whether or not to reestablish fire districts and levy a fire tax or to instead just continue using the alternative form of funding in a vote of the commission in order to conclude that S99-8-2 dissolved the fire tax districts and the language and text of S99-8-2 does not in any way support such a position. Remember, any resolution that is in in compliance with the law, is null and void. Unless there is some other provision in the law that doesn’t require it, the text of S99-8-2 must include verbiage that says that “if this resolution is in conflict with any statutes of the state of Tennessee, this resolution is repealed to the extent necessary in order for this resolution to no longer be in conflict with state law”, otherwise the whole thing is thrown out. If I am correct, the county must immediately begin the process of assessing a fire tax as if S99-8-2 were never approved.

    This whole matter just got a lot more interesting! I think the county’s entire game plan is unwinding on them. We may not have to establish fire taxes, we may already have them. Wouldn’t that be wonderful? That would make the 2006 agreement void because it was made under duress and under false pretenses.

  101. Butch Huber

    Just sent out: This went to our city commission and city government and to Mayor Hutto. This is possibly a barn burner.

    Mayor Hutto, et al.

    I think I may have discovered something else that is quite earth shattering.

    County Resolution R95-5-4 was approved by the county commission. Part of that resolution states that the countywide fire department is delegated to WEMA. If that is an illegal construction, as I believe you will find that it is, then County Resolution R95-5-4, may be null and void in its entirety. I say that because usually, a resolution would have to include language similar to what follows in order for the whole resolution not to be thrown out if a part of the resolution is not legal:

    In case of conflict between this resolution or any part hereof, and the whole or part of any existing resolution of the County, the conflicting resolution is repealed to the extent of the conflict but no further. If any section, clause, provision or portion of this resolution is held to be invalid or unconstitutional by any court of competent jurisdiction, such holding shall not affect any other section, clause, provision or portion of this resolution.

    It would seem, that if the county cannot operate the Countywide Fire Department under the Civil Defense Statutes, then resolution R95-5-4 would be null and void. In which case the county has obviously been operating the emergency services of this county way outside the law. If R95-5-4 is void, then everything would revert back to each previous resolution, which all would have been illegal, and therefore, it would seem, there is no countywide fire department. The county cannot operate emergency services except through statutes that authorize it to do so, and if the county is not operating those services under an authorizing piece of legislation, then the county is operating outside the law.

    However, let’s say that R95-5-4 is found to be legal except for the part about placing it under WEMA. We have another problem.

    I was looking at County Resolution S99-8-2. That is the resolution that authorized the county to use the alternative form of funding to fund the Countywide Fire Department.

    When a resolution is passed, it has to address how that resolution affects all previous agreements and the terms and conditions of that agreement. If the resolution doesn’t address those agreements, those agreements, along with their terms and conditions, remain in full force and effect. If there is a conflict between the new resolution, then you have a conflict that has to be sorted out by a judge in a legal suit. The judge would compare the two and repeal each until you had agreement between the two (I believe).

    Prior to S99-8-2, the county had fire taxing districts. Mt. Juliet and Watertown were included in those fire districts. When the county approved S99-8-2, the county never rescinded the provisions in R95-5-4 which established fire districts, and in fact, didn’t address fire districts or what would become of them upon the approval of S99-8-2. S99-8-2 simply said that it was going to use the alternative form of funding authorized in 5-17-101 to provide funding for the countywide fire department in the unincorporated portions of the county for that particular fiscal year and that the county commission would have to decide each year thereafter which form of funding it would use. S99-8-2 never made any mention of what would become of Mt. Juliet or Watertown, which were both a part of the countywide fire district. It would seem that the resolution, S99-8-2, would have to by its language terminate any agreement between Watertown and Mt. Juliet for their inclusion in the countywide fire districts and dissolve the districts in order for this resolution to be legal and binding. It would appear that the county still has fire districts because they were never dissolved. Further, unless resolution S99-8-2 terminated the agreement between the county and Mt. Juliet and between the county and Watertown, each of those cities are still included in the countywide fire district. Nothing ever was approved by the county to terminate those agreements.

    The inter-local agreement between the County and Mt. Juliet in 2006 was entered into under duress, and apparently under false pretenses, and therefore is null and void. The city was already in the countywide fire district by agreement between the parties. When the county established fire districts and charged a fire tax upon the property in Mt. Juliet, it also terminated the 1986 agreement between the parties automatically (in my opinion). The new agreement was between the parties under the fire tax provisions, however, there is a conflict between the language of this city’s opt in to the fire tax. That opt in included language that is inconsistent with the fire tax statutes, however, it may still be found to be legal to the degree that it isn’t in conflict.

    Considering that the county cannot legally place the countywide fire department under WEMA’s control and management, and Considering that all emergency services provided by the county must be operated under the countywide fire department for want of any other legal place from which the county may provide those services, and considering that the county doesn’t have sufficient funds to pay for all of those services using the alternative funds available to the county, the county must use fire taxes to pay for emergency services, and if the county is using fire taxes, then the county must levy a fire tax.

    What I am telling you is that, based on what little I know about the law, and based upon the facts as I see them, this county is either unlawfully operating as if it has a countywide fire department when it doesn’t, or it is operating a countywide fire department in accordance with R95-5-4, and must levy a fire tax because there isn’t sufficient funds available in the alternative sources in order to cover the costs. Therefore, Mt. Juliet is, until such time as it elects to opt out, a part of the countywide fire department and the county is responsible for providing all emergency services to this city and any shortfall in service provision in this city is the county’s fault.

    This is one great big unbelievable mess!

    To my city commissioners, please refrain from doing anything until you sort this out. Have an attorney check everything I am telling you. I think you will find that what I am telling you is correct. The county may have charged a fire tax to pay for operations that it legally could not operate because the authorizing resolution that established the county wide fire department may have been an illegal instrument due to the county placing that operation under management of WEMA. This may have been a case of someone in the county being too smart by half by trying to get around the law.

    Butch Huber

  102. Butch Huber

    To Sonny, and to all, I am not deluded into thinking that I can bridge the gap between conservative and liberal, or that I can personally bridge any gap on my own. I am working at removing the impediments of progress so that the county and the cities can all be “Partners in Prosperity”. I think we can be Partners in Prosperity because we are all, for better or for worse, in the same boat. The trick is getting everyone rowing in the same direction. How do you do that? You resolve the major differences than you give people something to work toward that is bigger than their minor and petty differences. We can do something great in this county if we work together. We have all the elements necessary in order to become the model county. We have two lakes here, the airport is here, the race track is here, the commuter train (for what that is worth) is here. There is space for industrial development, there is space for class “A” office space, there is space for massive retail development, and all of that growth will help everyone have jobs and prosperity. We have everything to gain by working together and nothing to gain by working against each other. The hope that I have in all of this is that the issue over the fire department gets settled, and we find out that we actually have more in common than we have differences. Okay, if it is a pipe dream, it is my pipe dream. A guy has a right to dream, doesn’t he? What will we gain by continuing the bitterness? Nothing as far as I can see. I like the “Walk softly, but carry a big stick” approach to things. Be nice, be cordial, be pleasant, be considerate, be thoughtful, be willing to change and to understand and empathize, but while you are doing all those things, it doesn’t hurt to have a large stick under your arm.

  103. Butch Huber

    Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

  104. Randall Patrick "R.P." McMurphy

    Whew!!! Is it safe to come back ? hahaha. You guys have been keeping Publius and me busy with your rapid fire contributions. Thank you, thank you, thank you each and every one. This is so what we need. From my perspective, for what it is worth, there have been some valid and extremely substantial points made. Definitely much to ponder. One point in particular that I believe to be paramount is NOT TO LET THIS CITY COMMISSION COMMIT TO ANYTHING UNTIL IT BECOMES MORE EDUCATED. For this reason: If they make a wrong commitment for the wrong reasons, then the next commission will have to deal with it, fix it, or possibly be stuck with it. I believe some of the current commissioners and mayor should be and will be replaced in the next election…WITH EDUCATED PUBLIC SERVICE MINDED INDIVIDUALS THAT ARE WILLING TO CONTINUE TO LEARN. Some of our leaders see the game clock and are thinking…”I need to do something…right or wrong…to say I did something or play on the opportunity to continue”. BTW the red queen taught them this. They want people to think they are knowledgable because they have been involved. Folk, NOTHING COULD BE FURTHER FROM THE TRUTH!!! Humpin’ the county’s leg is not a very creative approach and seems less effective as time moves on…and time is moving. Everyday they waste is a day YOU GO WITH INADEQUATE PROTECTION. Not to mention the monetary hosing of giving 25% and getting 21%. That 4% if my calcs are correct = @ $250,000 +/- annually. Folks, that is a fully equipped ambulance or engine and a half. ( More if you talk to the Bay Manette, AL refurb supplier) Figuring that .50/$1 from the city goes to the county/MJ having a $7-$14 million sales tax)…correct me if I am wrong. The main point is, that is a chunk of change we could have been using to better ourselves. I want it back. We need it back. You give me the accurate figure and I will tell you how much fire protection it would get you. If they build this station in Providence and the county DOES NOT put assets there (which BTW at present I am told by someone there, they DO NOT HAVE) then be advised…THIS IS A LOUSY PLACE FOR A FIRST STATION!!!…AND WE ARE OFF TO A CRAPPY START OF A MJFD. Get the word out, do not let them commit…order them to educate themselves and ASK A PROFESSIONAL. Listen to the people. It is not a sign of weakness, but wisdom.

    Happy Thanksgiving back to you, Butch, and all you caring servants here.

    Publius, I hope I did not let you down keeping up with timely approvals. Thanks again, and have a safe day.

    RP

  105. Butch Huber

    R.P.

    I think the auditor’s report says that all together, everything included in, Mt. Juliet is paying the county $3.5 million more per year than the county is providing in this area in terms of services.

    Things to consider though.

    Much of that money is in the form of sales tax. Much of that sales tax is generated by people in the rest of Wilson County Shopping in Mt. Juliet. It, for sure, is not anywhere near what the county would like us to believe, however, that factor has to be weighed in the equation.

    This includes business taxes, wheel taxes (I believe), sales taxes, property taxes etc. Though the auditor did leave some things out that would swing in the favor of the county if added in, he left out some things that, if they were added in, I think would probably swing things back in Mt. Juliet’s favor even more. I think the true differential between what we pay them for services and what they give back is more like a $4 to $5 million deficit in services to Mt. Juliet. These figures don’t included all the payments made to the county from homeowners and businesses of that are in the county in this area, but that are outside the city. If you added in all of those figures you could probably reasonably project a $6 million to $7 million services deficit to this area, maybe even more. R.P., remember, I think this is an annual figure. Can you imagine the world class service we could have if all that was spent on public safety in this area?

  106. Randall Patrick "R.P." McMurphy

    Butch,
    I can do a helluva alot more than imagine. With that kind of money, you can design youself a world class, FULL service, all inclusive, fit this town and meet every NEED emergency mitigation department that would leave you quivering and chanting…”WEMA, who”? Not to mention, pissing on and doing away with that ignorance infused .20/$100 property tax. Throw in some gov’t. grants and a little bond action and…Katy bar the door! The flipside is with that kind of money, someone else can make one ginormous mess. This ready, fire, aim commission needs to be stopped. It is very similar to what I teach new officers…Success is attained or lost by the first thing you do up on arrival. If the first thing you do is WRONG…your success will be measured by how well (if ever) you recover…not by the effctiveness of your observation/decision/mitigation skills. Luck has a foundation of sand, good has a foundation of STONE. That is an original. Zig Ziglar liked that one alot.

    RP

  107. Butch Huber

    I conducted a little experiment using Google Earth. Something about the site selection in Providence has been gnawing at me. Something just didn’t seem right to me. Forget that the city stole 8 acres from the owner of paddocks for a moment and just consider the following:

    1) The Paddocks location allows for coverage of 25% more city property than the location at Athen’s Drive in Providence without leaving any of Providence uncovered for fire protection within the golden 5 mile driving distance.
    2) The Mt. Juliet High School and the Mt. Juliet Elementary School are both within five miles driving distance from the Paddocks, yet are not within the five miles driving distance of the Athen’s Drive location.
    3) Parts of Willoughby Station and Mt. Vernon Estates are covered by Paddocks, but not by Athens Drive.
    4) Wendy’s and Panara Bread are both closer to Paddocks than they are to Athen’s Drive.
    5) Providence Parkway and Mt. Juliet Road is closer to Paddocks than it is to Athen’s Drive
    6) Most of the Commercial Property along Lebanon would be within the five miles of Paddocks, but isn’t within five miles of Athen’s Drive.
    7) Charlie Daniel’s Park is covered by Paddocks, but not by Athen’s Drive.
    8) You get more than one additional mile coverage along Old Lebanon Dirt road in each direction and more than one additional mile coverage along Division in both directions from Paddocks than you do with Athens.
    9) All property West of Mt. Juliet Road is closer to Paddocks than it is to Athen’s Drive. All property North of Route 40 is closer to Paddocks than it is to Athens Drive.
    10) All of Providence is covered by both stations within the golden 5 mile driving distance standard.
    11) There is, for all practical purposes, virtually no difference in coverage of Providence Marketplace from either location, nor is there any difference in coverage of the south Mt. Juliet Public Shopping Center between the two locations.
    12) Traffic at the intersection of Route 40 and Mt. Juliet is as much an issue in one direction as it is in another, so I think that point is mute no matter which side of the debate you are on.
    13) It could be said that we have coverage to much of the same area from Station 3, however, station three should be moved to around North Green Hills and a third station should be developed somewhere near the new high School. The triangulation that could occur from those three points would place a large portion of the city under triple coverage, a large portion under double coverage, and virtually every square inch of this city at least under single coverage.

    I really can’t see the benefit of placing the station at Athen’s drive and belinda parkway, but I am open to reason. Can someone give me a professional argument for the placement of the station at Athen’s Drive?

  108. Chief O'Hallorhan

    A 1,000 55+ senior community, a new 55+ independent living facility, another 55+ living section of Providence, 4 apartment complexes, 3 hotels (2 3 story/1 5 story), the largest mixed use development in Wilson County, and not having to drive through all the traffic to get over the interstate. The response time with the traffic to Lake Providence alone would be over the 6 minutes you hope for response..

    If they reclaim the current Station 3 and rename to Station 1 all the neighborhoods you mention will be covered already in addition to the Lebanon Rd/ Mt. Juliet corridor

    ..

  109. Butch Huber

    Chief, thanks for your input.

    Can you tell me, how much does traffic really play a part? I am only asking because I have never in my life ever seen an emergency vehicle being held up in traffic when it had its siren blasting and its lights flashing.

    Also, would it be any different for the people who live on the other side of the interstate than it is for the ones who live at providence? I mean, if traffic is an issue, isn’t it an issue going both ways? Sure, you avoid the intersection traffic for those who live in Providence and Belinda City by placing the station at Athens, but don’t you at the same time increase the response time for those who live on the other side of the interstate from what it would have been if the new station was placed at the Paddocks?

    If the city takes back station 3, and it doesn’t have any type of mutual agreement with the county, Station 3 can’t handle everything north of Route 40 while the station Athens only takes care of the area of the city south of the interstate. So, wouldn’t station 3 have to move to the north, perhaps to North Green Hills and Lebanon Road? If Station 3 remained where it is, it would sub-optimize the city’s capabilities. Even if the city and the county continue a working relationship, MTAS and CTAS determined that Station 3 should be moved to the north.
    If the city were to move station 3 to someplace such as North Green Hill and Lebanon Road, wouldn’t the South Station really need to be north of the Interstate?

    Again, I know I come across on here as being argumentative, however, I am not trying to argue, I am trying to reason. There is a difference.

    I also have this deeply rooted desire to do the right thing in all instances. If the city isn’t going to give the owner of the Paddocks his land that they stole from him, I think the least that they could do is enhance that property in such a way that it increases the worth of his property. I can’t help but to think that a fire station and a police station being located right in the back end of the paddocks would greatly enhance his net worth. Just having a fire station within 1.5 miles would probably reduce his fire insurance enough to offset the costs of the land that he “DONATED” to the city. I am looking at what is in the best interests of everyone, not just what the people of Del Webb would like to have. I think the county should build a station for Del Webb considering the $1.5 million in adequate facilities taxes that they took from them. The city doesn’t get that money, the county get’s that money. The city isn’t allowed to use impact fees on fire stations, but the county is authorized to use adequate facilities taxes for that purpose.

    They will probably purchase this land anyway, regardless of anything I say. However, I do think that the city may be making a mistake here.

    Fire Fighters, if you had a magic wand, and could put the station anywhere in this city, would you choose Athen’s drive and Belinda Parkway as the location for a new fire station?

  110. Chief O'Hallorhan

    Butch.. no they are all good questions..

    Based on the Paddocks location and if I remember right it was going to be located near the walmart.. you have a total of 5 or 6 traffic controlled intersections to get to the Providence area and if you have to go south of Providence its 7. If your responding to Del Webb, Providence Marketplace, Providence proper, Triple Crowne, and the immediate South Mt. Juliet area you are looking at 1 or 2 light intersections currently The amount of intersections plays a big part since you have the potential to have stops at those intersections (because you have to come to a complete stop at every red light) then on top of that you have the pack up of traffic going south towards Providence, then coming over the bridge you have the merging traffic from I-40. Lights and sirens just tell people were coming but in a perfect world every person would pull to the right shoulder but that doesn’t happen.. So if your looking at the most population served with certain demographics the location would be best to be on Belinda Parkway since realistically if you have drove from Providence area north from Belinda Parkway its a lot easier to respond north then south into Providence.

    So with my wand I like the location, but agree that the 8 acres needs to be utilized as what it was originally planned for and if not needs to be returned to the developer.

    Like RP or MC said that if you are going to try to run all ops out of the Belinda Parkway station though it would be bad because it cuts off the whole north side. Like everyone has said we would need 3 stations total to be covered properly with the 5 mile overlaps…

  111. Sonny Griffin

    I wonder what these guys would think about the current discussion?

    http://unitedmesaff.com/pages/documents/critical%20situation.pdf

    They are bitchin’ about a dream scenario for MJ.

    You get what you pay for.

    To me, the situation boils down to a referendum to see what the citizens of MJ want.

  112. Chief O'Hallorhan

    I 2nd that Sonny.. give it to the citizens to vote on it.

  113. Butch Huber

    The point is now mute. The city commission voted to purchase this piece of property. I do question this selection, however, your points are good ones, Chief, and thank you for giving them.

    The city commission also passed a resolution to ask the state level elected officials to ask the State Attorney General to answer some questions relative to the fire protection issue in this city and county. Hopefully this will produce good outcomes.

    Sonny, I don’t disagree with the referendum idea, however, I would like to see all the facts put on the table and the public made aware of those facts before a vote is taken. I do think that cooler heads can prevail in this and agreements can be reached between the county and the city and the city and other cities. I am not against Mt. Juliet owning the assets and even running our own fire department. I would just like to see the costs spread over a bigger base and I would like to see tax equity.

    All-in-all, tonight was a good night in regard to this issue. I think the chains were moved down the field today, which is always a good thing.

  114. Sonny Griffin

    A suggestion:

    I would like to see a menu of choices presented to Mj citizens at referendum.

    First, before any negotiations, set what the required criteria for any plan would be. For example: response times, NFPA compliance, OSHA compliance, number of citizens served per fire station, maximum radius of service for each fire house, University of TN, etc. Take your choice. We could integrate our existing GIS into the process. Great planning tool, thanks to Bobby Franklin. Would need input from firefighters, citizens and possibly professional planners on this. After the criteria is determined, any plan would be based on that criteria so everybody is playing on a level field.

    Work out the best deal we can with the county using the above criteria including joint participation. Show what the cost of this plan would mean to the individual MJ taxpayer. Present this plan to the voter as one choice.

    Determine the cost to the taxpayer of establishing our own emergency services department, including ambulance and using the same criteria. State how we plan to pay for it. Present this plan as another choice.

    Maintain the status quo. Show what the real cost to the MJ taxpayer is by doing this. Use the same criteria. Present this plan as a third choice.

    These are just three examples of what could be presented to the voter.
    The menu could have as many choices as needed but I believe as few as possible is the way to go.

    I think the registered voters in MJ know that we can’t continue on the course we are on. Let them decide what is best for MJ. They have already made a great choice at the last referendum. I’m betting they can do it again.

  115. Butch Huber

    Perhaps, the referendum, if there ever were one, would allow the voter to vote for their number one option, their number two option, and their number three option. The number one option would be worth three points, number two would be worth two points, and their number three option would be worth one point. The option with the highest score would prevail. Had Randy Robertson not have turned the community conversation into a controlled sales pitch with a predictable outcome, the result, I think, may have been remarkably different. This would especially have been true if we would have had an option of none-of-the-above, which we didn’t have available to us in the “Community conversation”.

  116. Sonny Griffin

    Sounds good to me, Butch.

    However, you don’t sound like you are too optimistic about the referendum ever happening.

    I’m not either.

    Why do you feel the way you do?

  117. Butch Huber

    Urgency. There is a sense of urgency to this issue that would preclude a referendum vote.

    Politics: There are people on the Commission who need to do something of meaningful value before the next election cycle.

    Liberalism: There are liberals who have moved into this city who believe that government is the answer. They don’t want a referendum because a referendum gives conservatives a voice.

    I also think that there really isn’t much of a choice here. I know that you don’t like fire taxes, and regardless of my opinion about fire taxes, I really think that the county is going to ultimately end up having to establish a countywide fire department, because the one that they tried to establish in 1995 was actually, in my opinion, illegally constructed, then they are going to have to include all emergency services in the countywide fire department, which means that they can’t afford it through the alternative form of funding, which leads to fire taxes. From that point there aren’t many additional choices to make and I think the most logical and best solution will be found and followed. I don’t believe that there is going to be enough public demand for a referendum in order to get a referendum. Unless there is significant push from citizens to put this up to a vote, it won’t happen. They will deal with it as a commission.

    They are mostly doing the right things here. They are conducting an audit, they are bringing in MTAS, they are trying to get the attorney general to weigh in, they are moving forward with actions that will enable them to establish a city fire department, and they are being open minded. I hate it that we have a property tax now, but I have always said that if we do this right, I will pay a property tax in order to have enhanced fire protection. I just want to make sure that I am not paying twice for the same service, and I want to make sure that when I pay for fire protection I am actually getting that for which I pay.

    Sonny, I really do think this commission is functioning much. much better than it has for quite a while, if not ever. They need vision, but at least they are being civil to one another and they are being level-headed and mature. They want to know that what is going on is legal and proper.

    Frankly, I would like to see a referendum that would dramatically limit the city’s ability to go into debt. If we are going to have a referendum, I think that is where we need to go. I would also like to see a referendum that would change our charter to allow for a recall provision. I think clipping their wings financially, and putting in place the possibility for a recall of elected officials who abuse their offices would go a long, long way toward keeping our commission in check.

  118. Sonny Griffin

    Amen, Butch.

    I agree with most everything you said except for dealing with the county but if that’s what it takes to get adequate emergency services for MJ and is in the best interest of MJ, I’m all for it.

    I really don’t care how we get there but you are right about expediency.

    I agree with you that this commission is far superior to anything we’ve had in a long time, maybe ever.

    Hell, I don’t even have the desire to go down there and yell at them anymore.

    However, before we fall foolishly in love, we need to keep in mind that these are essentially the same troops minus two that allowed Bradshaw and Elam to illegally sue the city.

  119. Randall Patrick "R.P." McMurphy

    Good Morning Neighbors! Hope you all are well and warm this morning. Quick to the core…You guys seem to be ready to give the kids a cookie after school for bringing home D’s instead of F’s. I recognize and respect your views but I have seen this before and so have you. They are either doing this just for the cookie or they are studying the game clock and know now is the time to have a pseudo-direction which is akin to a pseudo-commitment. They are going to put themselves in a position for the next election cycle to where a viable replacement candidate will have to backtrack over their pseudo-mess to get to a point of productive momentum and sell it as being a educated move. Their re-election campaign will be based on “let me continue”. The question is, “Do you want to keep draggin’ this wagon with square wheels…or are you ready to get some round smooth ridin’ wheels FOR A CHANGE? Speaking solely for my vote…they have yet to earn it or the hinted accolades of success. Have a good one and git-r-dun!

    RP

  120. Sonny Griffin

    Hey R. P.,

    Good morning to you and I hope you are warm and well also.

    Concerning your reservations about the commission, that’s why I haven’t “fallen hopelessly in love” yet. They just seem to be a big improvement over what we have had. You know, when I think about it, that’s not much of a compliment.

    Tell Nurse Cratchit hello for me.

  121. Shawn Donovan

    Butch and Sonny… sounds like we are in need to try and organize a meeting once again like the one we had Charlie Daniels Park many months ago. Like before do an open invite and get everyone who interested in discussing the topic further show up and meet face to face.

    I’m sure there are a lot of Mt. Juliet residents out there outside of the one’s who post on here who have something to share to the conversation.

    Might be a little cold now for a Charlie Daniels pavilion meeting but open to any other locations..

  122. Randall Patrick "R.P." McMurphy

    Naw Sonny…it is not much of a compliment at all. Going from a “F” to a “D” simply means you went from sleeping thru class to opening your eyes. You still haven’t done anything and certainly come nowwhere near reaching potential. When you think of what this commission could do then add that to what they should do…you will see they fall way short of being worthy of my vote or yours. Not to mention, the sacrifices made for the privilege to ask for and cast that vote. We deserve better, we should demand better, and these men should strive to provide better.

    RP

  123. Butch Huber

    Shawn, I am always open to meet, even if it is in the cold, however, I am not sure that conversation at this point would be productive. We are now at a place where, if the state elected officials will help by getting the attorney general to weigh in on this issue, where we will find out officially what’s what. I think we are going to find out that the county never legally established the Countywide Fire Department, and therefore it doesn’t really exist as an organization. That means that the county is still, in contravention to the Attorney General’s opinion in U92-134, providing all emergency services, including fire suppression, under the Civil Defense Statutes, which is unlawful. The county will have to establish all emergency services it provides under a newly established countywide fire department. Then they will have to establish fire taxing districts and levy a fire tax. They will have to do that because they can’t pay for it all out of the alternative funding authorized under T.C.A. §§5-17-101–5-17-108. That will set up an entirely different set of circumstances in this county than those that we already have established. The city will be in a much stronger position then in dealing with the county, or, if the city chooses, we can just ignore the county and establish our own services. Until we get to a point where we know what’s what, what will we talk about? I would encourage you to wait until we get some answers and have a firm foundation upon which to develop the conversation. I think, once people see reality, they will all have a vastly different perspective.

    I think, before this is over, the county will be radically reshaped in many ways, and not just relative to fire services.

  124. Shawn Donovan

    Good point Butch.

    As a citizen, the fire department I want to see in Mt Juliet would be:

    1) Staffed on all appartus that meet the requirements of NFPA 1710

    2) Trained so that has all personnel riding on the apparatus be certified to the State of Tennessee Fire Commission Firefigher I level and the Fire Officers to Fire Officer I level with medical licensure at the minimum EMT-IV

    3) Equiped with number of appartatus that will meet the needs of the current demographics of Mt. Juliet so all incidents are covered with adequate number of apparatus and manpower

    4) Stations that will allow for all responses to be 6 minutes or lower within its response district

    5) Enough ambulances that the city has an ambulance located within the city limits at all times for response with no response longer the 10 minutes

    I honestly don’t care if its funded by Fire Tax Districts, Property tax, Fire Tax, State shared revenue, etc .. but that is what I want to make it safer for not only my family, but your family, and the family of that firefighter riding the apparatus. We currently are not meetng ANY of the 5 things that I just listed with our current situation. So until I see a plan that comes close to meeting all the things I will not be happy with it as a citizen of this great city.

    Residents should expect that level of service, but currently were not getting it. When you look at the reasons Its not because the personnel riding that fire engine or amublance at WEMA don’t want to give it to us, but because they do not have enough funding to provide it.

  125. Butch Huber

    Shawn,

    My plan can provide for all of the things you mentioned.

    You have to understand the interrelationship of the existing laws in order to understand all of the ins and outs of this and why things have to be done in a certain way in order to arrive at the place that you describe.

    The level of service that you suggest would probably cost this city somewhere between 5 and 8 million dollars per year. If we were to pay for that just off of city property taxes, it would cost the average homeowner somewhere around $400 to $600 per year to pay for it. That isn’t impossible, but it is a lot of money for us to pay.

    Let’s suppose that we did agree to pay the $600 per year to have that level of service. Now we have four stations, fire engines, ambulance, etc in all four stations. We have well trained people in each station. We have a fully capable and functional first class fire department which includes ambulance and rescue. We are bad to the bone and capable of handling just about anything that comes down the road.

    Then a call comes in. It is a heart attack victim just on the other side of the city line in the unincorporated portion of the city just south of East Division. By far the closest station is one of our city owned stations. The county has done nothing to enhance the level of service that it provides to this end of the county so the only stations on this end of the county are station 4 and stations 5, both of which are now 8 miles or so from the scene. Are we going to just let that man die, or are we going to respond? Now there is a girl in a burning house just outside the city to the east, still many miles from any county owned unit, but well within the five miles driving distance of our station. Respond, or let her die? If we respond we are using our city owned assets that we paid for to provide service to those who don’t pay for it.

    You might say, well, we would have mutual aid agreements, however, a city is not allowed by law to enter into an agreement that is not advantageous to the citizens of the city. Is entering into a mutual aid agreement with the county wherein we have 4 to 8 times as much equipment and personnel in the area then they do advantageous to the city? It wouldn’t be if we were responding to the majority of the calls on this side of the county because the county won’t spend money here. Have they proven their unwillingness to spend money here? I would say that answer should be a resounding, “Yes, they have proven an unwillingness to spend money here?”

    The county would say, “well, the area you are responding to is in your twenty-year growth area, so you should be willing to annex that area and make it part of your city and tax those people to help pay for the costs”. But wouldn’t that be the county deciding for the city what the city should do? Last I check, the city was sovereign as far as the county is concerned.

    So, we decide just to let the man and the little girl die. They were not our problem, Right? Can you imagine the public outrage? From a Christian perspective, can you imagine what God would think?

    This is why we have to get to the bottom of things and set them right. I, like you, don’t really care how it gets paid for, except that I don’t want to be taxed for things I don’t get, and I don’t want to be taxed twice for something I only receive once. I don’t think there is a person out there that would check out and pay twice for the same cart of groceries, so nobody should ever expect me to pay twice for emergency services that I only receive once. In this case, though, I am not even getting that for which I am paying. This city shells out to the county between $3 million and $5 million more in taxes than the county returns to us in the form of services. If we do not get to the bottom of this, the county will provide us with even less and we will end up picking up the tab for services that we would be providing in the unincorporated portion of the county. The benefit to the county would probably then be closer to $8 to $10 million per year. All I want is adequate services without being raped in order to get it, I want equity, and I want those who serve me to be safe.

    Everyone in the county and everyone on earth should want those things. If I want to give to charity, I will do that on my own. I don’t want government to be spreading my money around, which is what the county is doing now.

    The plan that I developed can accomplish all of that if only they will recognize that it really works. Except for those who want someone else to pay for the services that they receive, for the most part, under my plan, everyone gets exactly that which they seek and for which they are willing to pay.

    I think Mt. Juliet is willing to pay a lot, and has demonstrated that fact, the question then becomes, “Will the county do the right thing and come to the table willingly, or must we drag them to the table?”

    In order for us to have the plan you described above, we are going to have to be willing to shell out a lot of money to pay for other people’s services that they are unwilling to pay for themselves, or we are going to have to let people die…that is, unless we can be successful in straightening this out. Laws can force the county into places where it otherwise would not go. Hopefully, the attorney general will straighten this out for us and hopefully the county will respond to what the attorney general says without having to be drug into court.

  126. Shawn Donovan

    Butch,

    All good questions and the scenarios are realistic but not anything that doesn’t happen every day in an area that has a city fire department with unincorporated areas surrounding its border. You can look at Rutherford, Sumner, Williamson, etc and they all have the same issue. You don’t see Murfreesboro Fire running outside there jurisdication in the county, or Hendersonville into Sumner, or Franklin into Williamson County unless you have an automatic aid agreement in place. I’ll use Franklin for an example since I work for FFD. We have a few areas that we do have automatic aid agreements (into Brentwood and the County) but like you mention there at set parameters for us to respond, and those relate only to fire calls. You do not see us running medical calls into the county on any automatic aid process only upon request and thats rare.

    We can look just east and use the same scenarios only difference is that Lebanon doesnt run medical calls. Does Lebanon Fire respond to calls just outside the city limits off 70 where they are closer then Station 1 or Station 6.. same scenario but you never see that in the paper.
    I am a county resident as well and do want everyone to have the best services as well, but in reality someone has to pay for it and if the city is stepping up to cover the incorporated residents then the county needs to do the same if the residents in the unincorporated areas want the same type of coverage. That is the reality of the emergency services.

    Again as I have said from the beginning and since I moved to the city in 2005, that the county is in no position to allocate the need resources to our high density residential, commercial, multi family housing, etc, and any type of upgrade that will be done that has Mt. Juliet in control of it will require a mutual aid agreement in place and again that’s reality. .

  127. Sonny Griffin

    The question is raised:

    Do you let the man that is right outside the city limits of MJ who is having a heart attack die if MJ has established its own emergency services with boundaries of the city limits?

    What about the man living outside of the “five mile” agreement with the county?

    What about the man living in Statesville?

    Where do you stop?

    If MJ is going to establish its own emergency services, is MJ going to be responsible for providing emergency services outside of its city limits?

    If an agreement with the county is reached, is MJ responsible morally or otherwise responsible for providing emergency services outside the boundaries of the agreement?

    My opinion is absolutely and unequivocally not.

    The County has its responsibility and the City of MJ theirs. If the man dies, it is because the COUNTY did not provide adequate emergency services to the unincorporated areas of the County.

    The unincorporated areas of the County, outside of any agreements, are NOT the responsibility of MJ.

    Does that mean that MJ would not respond to a potential disaster situation? NO.

    Remember a few years ago when Metro fell out for a fire in Willoughby Station? My daughter lived across the street from the houses involved in the fire. That could have been a real disaster. I don’t remember it being very windy. When the engines arrived, my son in law was fighting the fire with a garden hose.

    From what I understand, Metro saved the day. Please correct me if I’m wrong. Were they compensated for their involvement?

  128. Butch Huber

    I think that a place exists somewhere between two extremes where reason and logic can co-exist with feelings and emotions and where the world around us can make sense. I believe there is a way that we can do this without allowing the man or the little girl die, and without causing one person to have to pay for the services provided to another.

  129. Sonny Griffin

    I certainly hope so, Butch.

    But to accomplish that goal, we have to work with the county.

    They don’t seem to be wanting to do anything but give MJ ultimatums.

    I might have missed something, but has Hutto offered to sit down with the MJ Commission, lay the cards on the table and work out a viable solution to this matter?

  130. Randall Patrick "R.P." McMurphy

    Fast forward to the time when MJFD is online and what you have when this question is posed is the shoe being on the other foot. Rather than this city being inadequately covered, now you have citizens in the county that are inadequately covered. How will we handle this? If we take the current county’s approach…well, tough cookies for that man and/or little girl, HUH? As the county tells the city now, the city would tell the county then, it is your job to take care of your people…we are doing all we can. True? No.
    I have spent the better part of a lifetime in this arena and one thing I can tell you is ONE SIZE DOES NOT FIT ALL…perfectly. With new legislature governing public safety running contraindications to old legislature, entities NOT utilizing proper knowledge resources and basically SWAGging as they hope to fit, and the TIME/MONEY it takes to legally and properly manuever these entities into doing right, there will be gaps and the system will not sit flush. This is where TRUE mutual aid comes into play. To give you an example from your own back yard…take for instance a huge HAZ-MAT incident anywhere in Middle Tennessee…the counties in District 5 would pool their resources and mitigate the incident…Wilson would set up DECON, Davidson would address loss of containment, Sumner would add logostics, etc. etc. The school of thought nowadays is that no one entity can do it all…therefore let’s work together…each part take a part and leave no gaps. It works here and WOW!!! you should see them pull it off in NY. This is a broad stroke answer, but to bring it home and apply…it starts with the agreement between the entities with a spirit of selflessness and servitude. Follow that with the logistics of interconnected dispatching systems and availability of resources…its rocket science without the rocket. In the instances mentioned just outside the MJFD border, depending upon the SEVERITY of the call, if the current county asset is not available to address this person’s need, then a protocol to quickly summons mutual aid from MJFD would need to be in place and the call made. There exists a need for boundaries but they do not need to be walls. THIS IS A FREE SERVICE FROM ONE ENTITY TO ANOTHER. If a MJFD ambulance were to pick up a county resident in distress as a part of the mutual aid protocol, then the county would not be billed for the service…the patient would just as if he/she were of that responsibility of the MJFD entity. Clear as mud? To answer you, Sonny, the Lebanon FD nor the Nashville FD received payment from WEMA or the county for the time they have responded with mutual aid not has WEMA in the multiple times for LFD and the one time I can remember in 20+ yrs for NFD. Bottom Line: LIFE is the most precious commodity we deal in…no obstacles, no boundaries, no exceptions. This is the way you do it without letting the man or the little girl die.

    RP

  131. Butch Huber

    Sonny,

    I believe some of the job with the county has been made infinitely more difficult because Ed took the position that the city could not win in court. When you are in a confrontation with someone, you never, ever, ever let them see that you are scared or timid. On the contrary, you project to them that you are a badass and messing with you might result in getting your head ripped off, but if you want to work something out you restrain that projection so that it looks like power under control.

    If you walk into a room in an unfamiliar place and there is a dog in the room and you and he have never met. If you are scared of the dog, what will he do? Bark, growl, and perhaps even bite you, right? If you walk into that same room and you are not intimidated by the dog, what will the dog do? It might still bark and growl, but most likely it will settle in and be friendly, unless it is just a nasty dog, right?

    I think, when this whole thing started, the county was just looking for something from the city. I think that they just wanted to be able to say that they got “something” from us. I think, once Ed rolled over for them, they got it in their mind that they could have the whole enchilada; meaning that they could get the city to pay for all of the costs of building a building in providence, purchasing fire equipment, paying for personnel costs to put fire fighters in that station, paying for costs of two fire fighters in Station 3, and on top of that they get to keep their operations in Station 3. They felt that they could use our city paid fire fighters and our equipment to provide services to the unincorporated parts of the county as well. On top of that, they wouldn’t even commit on paper to placing an ambulance in the new Station if we built it.

    Once they took up that position publicly, it was hard for them to back down. Besides, the city never ever began to even present a posture that they were willing to fight back until they approved the audit and now approved the resolution asking the AG for his opinion. Meanwhile, I have been working to disassemble the county’s plan by showing that everything that they are doing is illegal and that there is no way that they win this in court. If the AG says what I think he will say, the county will have lost all of its footing. All that does is set the stage for the county to be conciliatory and be willing to work something out. As long as they felt that they could have whatever they wanted, they were going to ask for the moon.

    Sonny, yes, to some degree the county mayor has expressed a willingness to sit down with the city and work things out. However, he still wants to hold on to some remnant of a facade that the county has the upper hand in this. The county doesn’t have the upper hand, and I can prove it. The county has to provide, by law, the same emergency services that it provides outside of Mt. Juliet to those of us who live inside of Mt. Juliet. Even if and when this city establishes a fire department of its own, the county still has an obligation to provide services inside this city. You see, when a county establishes a countywide fire department, it does so pursuant to TCA 5-17-101, which says “ALL of the county”. The county is allowed to contract with the city for the city to prove services to its own people, however, that service has to be adequate and capable of protecting the people, otherwise the county must also respond in emergency situations. In other words, if the city had one 70 year old fire fighter and a 1930’s fire truck as its fire department, the county would still be obligated to respond to fires because that 70 year old with his 1930’s truck could not get the job done. The county does not understand its role or its duties under the countywide fire department statutes.

    Think about what the county did when they established the countywide fire department. They were being too smart by half. The AG said, “you can’t provide regular fire protection services under the civil defense statutes and the only way that you can provide the services that you are providing is through a countywide fire department. “Hmmmm…now what are we going to do?” Then they were sued in court. The judge ordered them to levy a fire tax. Well, in order to do that, they had to have a countywide fire department pursuant to TCA 5-17-101. “Hmmmm…..now what will we do?” “I know, let’s just establish a countywide fire department and delegate it back to the Wilson Emergency Management Agency. We will continue to pay for those costs using the Civil Defense Budget, but now we will charge a fire tax to help pay for the costs.” “In a couple years we will have a state representative file an amendment to these laws and have them changed so that we don’t have to have a fire tax.” “Then, for all intents and purposes, we will be right back where we were from the beginning, which is paying for everything out of the general fund money that goes into the civil defense budget.” Really, affectively, what changed between 1992 and 2011? Nothing. The county is doing exactly now what it was doing in 1992 before the AG’s opinion and before the lawsuits. They didn’t do the countywide fire department for the purpose of having a countywide fire department, they did the countywide fire department as a way to circumvent the AG’s opinion and as a way to circumvent the order of C.K. Smith. Because they don’t understand their obligations and duties under the countywide fire department, and don’t really want to understand them, they live under a paradigm. Once they have their paradigm shattered finally and they realize that they cannot play according to the rules that they had once established, they will have to play nicer. Why? Because this all affects Lebanon and Watertown. Even if they don’t want to play nice with Mt. Juliet, if this gets pushed to the end of the line, the county will be forced, under court order if need be, to be equitable.

    Part of this effort is to tear down a stronghold. The provision of emergency services has been a stronghold of the county. It has been used as a political pawn. They can wield that service as a sword over the head of the politicians in this area and they can use that sword as a means of dividing us and to cause strife. They really should be ashamed of themselves for what they have done, but remember, they live in a paradigm, right now they think they are right. However, I bet they are having a lot more questions now that they have had the truth revealed to them.

    Sonny has said that the county and the city will never get along, and he may be right, however, what we can do is set the stage in such a way that it is in their mutual best interests to get along. We can make it ridiculous for them not to get along. And in doing so we can deflate the county’s perceived powers over this city. The county seems to think that it is over the city, that the city’s are subservient to the county. I don’t see it that way. I see both as being sovereign except where the general assembly has given the county power over the city, which is actually quite rare I think. While one entity thinks it can get over on the other, there will be this battle. But, if you set the stage properly, and you remove the illusions of power, and render each side to the limitations of its actual and real power, you have conditions that are ripe for cooperation.

    As far as your response, R.K. about beyond the five mile driving distance. I kind of thought you would pick up on that as I was writing about it. When you are negotiating something of this nature, you want to start your focusing on the majors and not get caught up on the minors. That doesn’t mean that you don’t address the minors, however, you do that after you have addressed the majors. If we come to agreement on the major, which is how are we going to handle things in West Wilson in terms of providing service to the unincorporated portions of the county that are within five miles of any city owned fire station, we can more easily address those who live outside of those areas. Guys, remember where we were when we started this conversation. This process has come a long, long way. We have now agreed to purchase land for the building of a fire department, we have $1.2 million in an account for the purpose of establishing a fire department, we are getting answers to questions that should have been asked long ago. We are moving along. When the county realizes, as it eventually will, that it has been wrong along, and that they need to work with the city, this shouldn’t be nearly as difficult to deal with. R.K., I am all for a “True” mutual aid arrangement. However, the mutual aid would entail all aspects of the fire department/emergency services and it would be a situation wherein both sides have adequate assets to address the ordinary needs of their citizens and/or where one entity is providing primary response to one area of the other’s territory and vice versa. Mutual aid, to me, is not where one entity just lets the other cover their area because they will, which is what we will end up with if we don’t hold the county’s feet to the fire.

    In those areas that lay outside the five mile driving distance, a determination must be made. Is this an area in which we are providing “mutual aid”, or are we really providing “primary response”? If we are providing mutual aid, great, no worries. If this is an area where we are providing “primary response”, the city needs to be paid to do that. I would start with the areas that are within the five mile driving distance and ask the county, do you want for us to provide primary response to the area of the county that exists under that five mile driving distance overlay, do you want us to provide primary response to any part of that area, or do you want to provide some mutual aid arrangement? If you ask for a mutual aid arrangement, it must truly be a “mutual aid” arrangement wherein you are providing us with the same or similar level of service and benefit as we are providing to you. If the county does not act responsibly, and we are going to go into those areas of the county and provide aid anyway, then the least we should do is provide those services under an agreement that enables us to either charge the citizen directly for the service provided or that allows us to charge the county. The citizens of this city should not be asked to pick up the tab for providing services to those who do not pay for that service. That is not to say that there can’t be a benevolent fund established through which people can donate money to a fund that allows the city run fire department to draw from that fund to pay for services provided to those who don’t have the means to pay. There isn’t anything illegal or immoral about that at all. The key to that is the term, “Donate”.

    To the firefighters, this issue is about saving lives and mitigating damage and harm, as it should be. To me, it is about those things, but it is about the long-term aspects and the greater picture as well. I think, that by building a better relationship, even if the better relationship is a forced relationship, we can better protect the citizens, which saves lives and mitigates damage and harm on the broader spectrum. By settling these issues we can begin to work on some of the more minor issues that beguile us. In time, if you remove the impediments to harmony, perhaps you can have peace.

  132. Sonny Griffin

    I appreciate your answer, R. P. and I agree.

    I think that no matter what kind of agreement is reached, if one department needs the help of another department it’s going to happen and I think it should.

    Life is precious and you don’t have to be an emergency services worker to know that you are going to try to help someone save a life.

    Assuming a county wide fire department and a MJ City fire department:
    One thing I don’t understand R. P., is when a 911 call comes from the county, how is it dispatched? Does it automatically go to WEMA or does it go to WEMA and the city?

    If it goes to WEMA only, is it up to WEMA to ask the city for help if it needs it?

  133. Shawn Donovan

    Butch and Sonny… as RP has mentioned and as I noted in my previous post that the only way you can fill the “gaps” is through mutual aid and that starts with equal respect and willingness to work on both sides of the table (Mt Juliet on one side and Wilson County on the other)

  134. Butch Huber

    Shawn, you are correct in that it starts with equal respect and a willingness to work on both sides. After the MTAS/CTAS report was published, Mt Juliet began to put that plan in place. Unfortunately, the county did nothing that was recommended. In this go round, the city, not the county, has made all of the concessions. You don’t have a situation where both sides are equally respectful toward one another, nor is one side willing to work with the other. The county has presented an “it’s our way or the highway” proposition and their proposition is entirely and utterly illegal. Unfortunately, so far, our city has not been willing to pin the county to the mat over it. Sometimes, people need their butts kicked before they will stop acting the fool and behave respectfully. Only when the county recognizes that they have responsibilities to the citizens of this city will they ever be respectful toward us and be willing to do what is right by us.

    The prize we need to keep our eyes on is exactly what you are talking about, a respectful, cooperative, mutually beneficial relationship….I call that the “Partners in Prosperity” plan.

  135. Shawn Donovan

    Butch.. correct me if I’m wrong but I believe both of us were in attendance for all those meetings at EMA committee in 2006 during those “where pulling out of MJ” comments made by a now former County Commissioner. Actually the MTAS/CTAS study was only presented to the City Commission back then (I was there) and was never recognized by the County or even presented to the County by the former MTAS consultant Ray Crouch.

    I have suggested to City officials that a new study be completed by MTAS to look at Mt. Juliet proper by the new MTAS fire consultant Dennis Wolf, who is the former chief of Germantown, TN. I believe that there should be another study done by CTAS fire consultant Kevin Lauer to focus on the unincorporated areas that are covered by WEMA to help them with the plans in addition to the 2006 study. We both know that the Mt. Juliet of 2006 and the Mt Juliet of 2011 are two different places and we seen a lot in the way of commercial completion (outside of plans in 2006) and a drastic increase in population. Del Webb is one area that wasn’t even in the moving dirt phase back when the study was completed, because the deal between CPS Land and Del Webbs parent company Pulte wasn’t even completed yet.

    We have all commented about the 2006 Fire Study from time to time, but the recommendations for changes in WEMA were very drastic from the current system and I think that in part caused the county to not look at it (and the politics involved back then and now).

  136. Randall Patrick "R.P." McMurphy

    Sonny,
    All 911 calls in the county go to the 911 Center there on West Main just before the bypass on left eastbound. From there they are quantified as what the need and the location. If it is a fire in Lebanon city then LFD/LPD only get the call. If it is a medical in Lebanon city, then WEMA and LPD get the call. If it is a fire or medical in MJ then WEMA and MJPD get the call. If it is fire or medical in Watertown, then WEMA and Watertown VFD get the call. In the unincorp. parts of the county, WCSO and WEMA respond. Etc. etc. It will depend on the orgin of the call and the need. The 911 center is very good at what they do for you and the citizens of the county/cities.

    RP

  137. Butch,
    You stated that the mutual aid would entail ALL of the aspects. From experience, ONLY if it is agreed upon. Case in point, for the man with chest pain just feet outside the city limit. The agreement could be (hypothetically) that the MJFD send an ALS engine to stabilize the patient until the county ems arrives to transport. That provides ALS protocol to a severe chief complaint and yet keeps the ambulance from being involved in a possible lengthy transport. This is just an example, but it is a real one and probably the best for all involved. First and foremost, the pt. gets top shelf care immediately. MJFD still has all of its ems assets in house, and WEMA would get the call as it should. The issue for the city would be the cost of fuel and supplies. My take…for the customer service MJFD eat the fuel, the county ambulance swings by after the call and drops off fresh supplies of NTG, ASA, NS and 10 drop tubing and everybody looks good and LIVES. “I love it when a plan comes together”.

    RP

    P.S. Was the R.K. actually supposed to be me…RP? It’s OK young man…just watch that depth perception…you really can put your eye out. hahaha lol

  138. Butch Huber

    R.K., I mean, R.P.

    I agree, only if it is agreed upon. Sometimes, to get a party to become agreeable, you have to first be disagreeable. Meaning, sometimes you have to be harsh to get a person to stop being stupid. Sometimes a quick rebuke is a better response than a drawn out persuasion. Our city commission would not give a quick rebuke. They will soon be set up with all the fire power that they need in order to be assured that by giving the county a quick rebuke they won’t be setting themselves up for even worse. The county has taken a very harmful and dangerous posture toward Mt. Juliet. The county needs to be snapped out of that posture. Until they are brought to a place where they recognized they are wrong, they will continue to perpetuate their current abusive and inappropriate behavior. Even if there is agreement, if one of the parties is disagreeable, you really don’t have agreement. It is like the little boy who is forced to sit down. Inside he is still standing up. You may overpower him, but you can’t make him sit down in his mind, only he can do that. This county needs to be forced to sit down, but we cannot control how its collective mind works. If, after the dust settles, they are still being obstinate, then we will need to take a different course than what I would otherwise like to see. However, from my perspective, we need to first make them sit down for a period to see if they will have a change of mind and heart. Sonny doesn’t seem to think they will. Sonny is a very insightful and wise person, who in this instance I hope is wrong, and I believe he hopes he is wrong as well. I am holding on to hope, but I am not banking on it.

  139. Randall Patrick "R.P." McMurphy

    Butch,
    Again, from experience, for success to to all citizens and as one of many steps to remove the FD as a political football, you operate this aspect of the service at a level removed from administrative influence. In short, you leave certain things solely to the discretion of the trusted and experienced fire chief. Just as Chief Andy Garrett determines the scope of the MJPD for you at this time. The commission has learned not to mess with the PD as witnessed during the recent attempt to get the officers to leave their squad cars at work…NOT EVEN CLOSE…especially with a retired career cop on the board. They tested the depth of the water and seen real quick they were at the deep end. To be frank, about all the power they need is some obvious say come budget talk time…in my humble opinion, that is the yang that keeps the ying in check…to me, that is always a good thing.

    RP

  140. Sonny Griffin

    Thanks, R. P.

    Great explanation of how 911 calls are handled. Those men and women at the call center have a stressful job. Thanks again.

    One note this morning. Fred Weston, who I am sure all of you know, has had a very serious operation for throat cancer at Vanderbilt hospital. I believe he is still in intensive care but I understand he is doing well. I thought you would want to know so you could keep him in your thoughts and prayers. Fred has represented me both in the city and the county for over thirty years. I could not have asked for more faithful representation.
    In my opinion, he is what a politician should be.

    Back to the fire issue.

    R. P., thank you also for enlightening me on how the different entities work together to get the job done.

    It makes me feel a whole lot better to know that everything possible would be done to save the little girl and the man with chest pain.

    It seems that the EMS community is cooperating a helluva lot better to save lives than the county and MJ.

    You can have all the geographical and political boundaries separating the different entities that you can think of but that doesn’t mean jack s!#t to these guys.

    I see it now, thanks to R. P. What politician is going to stand up and make a motion that “our” fire department can’t cross “our” political boundary to help a neighbor save lives? He or she would be a complete idiot because it is just morally and ethically wrong to do so.

    So, it seems that it all boils down to this.

    The MJ FD, WEMA, Watertown FD and Metro FD are going to help each other save lives.

    I believe the only way to achieve this equitably is to require the different entities in Wilson County to operate under the same set of standards and I really don’t know how you can have the same standards for the incorporated and unincorporated areas of Wilson County.

    Are there different nationally recognized standards for rural and urban areas?

    Does this approach have any merit at all?

  141. Randall Patrick "R.P." McMurphy

    Your welcome, Sonny. You are always welcome. There are nationally recognized statndards between rural and urban, industrial and municipal, and career & volunteer. NFPA is our “bible”. It is not the law; however OSHA (which is the law) in the event of a safety violation with consequences, would use NFPA as our law. Basically stating, we (OSHA) do not do fire…NFPA does fire, therefore we (OSHA) will use NFPA as law. Anyway, off point, mutual aid is but one aspect as you know. NFPA mentions mutual aid as what it is, not how it should be handled. In my travels, I am constantly around fire chiefs and officials that use mutual aid to “one up” their firefighting neighbors. It is showmanship, but it works to the advantage in the long run for the citizens. The bottom line: It is a matter of HONOR…always has been, always will be. A servant’s spirit driven by a servant’s HEART. That is why politicians with self serving motives will ALWAYS screw it up and should be removed from the fray post haste after the vote to have or have not a FD.

    Does it have merit? It is dependant on the theological approach of the fire chief. For example, if you, Sonny, are the fire chief, you have all authority on setting the protocol for mutual aid for your department…what will your approach be? Will you mimmick the efforts of surrounding departments or will you strive to be the most benevolent? You see now why politicians stare at this issue like a cow looks at a new gate.

    RP

  142. Butch Huber

    Plan, prepare, coordinate, and make agreements and contingencies, then leave it to those who do the job. Listen, learn, ask questions, determine the correct course of action based on facts, then leave it to those who do the job. This isn’t really that hard. Pull the politics out of the equation, fund what needs to be funded, provide the equipment and personnel that are needed, make sure you have good people in charge, and let them do their jobs. They make this much harder than it has to be.

    Perhaps the General Assembly showed a lot of wisdom in the way that they envisioned a countywide fire department working. Unfortunately, Wilson County and its political machine seem to have been allowed to drive a truck through some perceived loopholes. It is time to close those holes.

  143. Randall Patrick "R.P." McMurphy

    BINGO!!! Butch.

    MJ has a golden opportunity to create a FD that will stand head and shoulders above anything else offered in this county. If done utilizing the truest resources with selfless means, then I believe in my heart of hearts that you will soon thereafter hear the phrase “…let’s do it like they do in MJ”. Wouldn’t that be a pip?

    RP

  144. Sonny Griffin

    We deserve adequate emergency services in MJ.

    How do we pay for it?

    How could we afford to borrow $2,000,000 to buy property from the county to give to the YMCA? Sorry, that is still a sore spot with me.

    We overpay for emergency services to the tune of 3.5 to 5.0 million dollars that the county takes out of our property taxes. This has got to stop. MJ property taxes must be adjusted to reflect that service that we do not get.

    How much would that figure be if we established our own emergency services? You don’t pay for what you don’t get. I think any court recognizes this fact.

    Figure it out and present it to the citizens in a referendum.

  145. Butch Huber

    Sonny,

    I do not know of any manner in which we could have the adjustment that you are speaking of in terms of our property taxes unless we go to fire taxes. Fire taxes would lower the overall county property tax rate for everyone in the county, then the fire tax would be assessed only against those who live within the unincorporated portions of the county. If the city opted into the county fire district, then the fire tax would be assessed on the citizens of this city, otherwise, we would be paying less in property taxes than the citizens of the unincorporated portion of the county pay.

    According to Article II, section 28, of the Constitution of the State of Tennessee, WIlson County cannot tax those who live inside of a city differently in terms of property taxes than those who live in the Unincorporated portions of the county, nor can the county tax those who live inside the cities differently from one another.
    I have included the pertinent part of Article II, Section 28 below for your review:
    “The ratio of assessment to value of property in each class or subclass shall be equal and uniform throughout the State, the value and definition of property in each class or subclass to be ascertained in such manner as the Legislature shall direct. Each respective taxing authority shall apply the same tax rate to all property within its jurisdiction.”
    The general assembly, when developing the Countywide Fire Department statutes recognized the need for the county to have flexibility in how it taxes, so the General Assembly created the “Fire Tax”. The Fire Tax is only assessed upon the property that is located inside of a fire taxing district. Once collected, the fire tax is counted the same as property tax and the county may then appropriate and amount equal to that which was collected in the form of a fire tax to the Countywide Fire Department for its use in providing services to the areas covered by the fire taxing district. If a city does not opt into the fire taxing district, it would not be charged a fire tax. If the city wants the county to provide fire service inside its territorial boundaries, and yet doesn’t want to be included in the fire taxing district, the parties may enter into a mutually beneficial, inter-local agreement whereupon the county provides to the city the level of services that the city desires and for which the city is willing to pay the county to provide.

    To my knowledge, this is the only way that you get to a place where you have an offset between what the county receives from Mt. Juliet citizens and what it receives from those citizens who live in the unincorporated portions of the county. This is why I am such a strong supporter of fire taxes. This is the legal way to get the offset in payments that you and I are seeking. I do not understand why you hate fire taxes when they give you exactly what you want, but for some reason it appears to irritate you when we talk about them. I honestly don’t know why, but I support your right to your opinion. If you know of another legal way that the city can get the offset that you and I both want, let me know what that option is and I will look into myself. However, at this point fire taxes are the only way that I know of to get to the place we both want to go with this issue.

  146. Sonny Griffin

    Butch,

    We have been saying all along that it is illegal to pay for the county-wide fire department (WEMA) with property taxes. We find now, due to the audit,
    that is what the county has been doing all along.

    The only way that MJ can legally pay for emergency services in our present system is through an agreement of some kind. MJ had an interlocal agreement with the county. That agreement should have been sufficient to pay for emergency services.

    However, the county used the interlocal agreement and a portion of the county-wide property taxes paid to the county general fund to pay for emergency services to MJ.

    As far as the unincorporated areas of the county, under our present system, are concerned, the county has two ways to legally fund emergency services to those areas. They are situs-based taxes OR revenues that have already been shared with municipalities. The county can not pay for emergency services to those areas using one or the other methods because neither comes close to covering the real cost.

    So, what the county has done is pay for these services by legally using situs-based taxes and illegally using a portion of the county-wide property taxes paid to the general fund.

    Therefore, a portion of the property tax paid by everyone in the county illegally goes to pay for the county-wide fire department.

    Fire taxes don’t automatically lower the county-wide property tax rate. Let’s say that fire tax districts were instituted tomorrow. Would that change the county-wide property tax rate. No. The law says:

    (d) A fire department established pursuant to this chapter may be funded through one (1) of the following methods:

    (1) As authorized by §§ 5-17-105 — 5-17-107, the county legislative body may establish one (1) or more fire tax districts and levy an annual fire tax upon the property in each district for the purpose of funding the activities of the fire department within that district;

    Is there anything here that forces the county to adjust the county-wide property tax rates?

    So, we would all have the same tax rates, the unincorporated areas would have a new fire tax, MJ would have the expense of furnishing its own emergency services and the county would have the money in that big deep, dark hole (General Fund) that they had been using to illegally pay for emergency services. No strings attached.

    We can’t let this happen.

    The county-wide property tax rates have to be lowered to reflect the money that property owners in Wilson County are illegally paying for emergency services. Otherwise, we will all be paying twice for those services.

    County property tax rates are set by the Wilson County Commission.
    How likely do you think it is that they are going to lower property tax rates in Wilson County? In my opinion, this won’t happen without legal action.

    The money that the county has stolen from MJ has to be accounted for.

    It seems that we are still hung up on whether MJ wants to go its own way with emergency services or make some deal with the county to furnish them. In my opinion, that is the first thing we need to figure out, keeping in mind what is best for MJ.

    If we decide to go our own way, I can’t see how fire districts would affect us one way or another.

    If the Attorney General determines that the county-wide fire department and WEMA are the same, which I think he will, the county will be forced to go to fire tax districts anyway. It would become the only way to pay for emergency services to the unincorporated areas. MJ would be automatically exempted from the fire tax district so all of this is moot anyway.

  147. Butch Huber

    Sonny,

    You are right. The county won’t lower the property tax rates, at least not likely, but they will have to establish fire taxes and the fire taxes that they charge will have to be sufficient to cover the costs of operating the countywide fire department. That is something that can be checked and verified. That stops the county from continuing the shell game of financing the fire department in an illegal manner.

    The county could increase, decrease, or leave the property taxes where they are now. The property tax rate in Wilson County has dropped from $2.97 in 2001 down to $2.437 in 2011. That is a drop of 18%. If the county were to increase the property tax rate by $.53 per $100 assessed value we would be no worse for wear than if they adjusted the rate to stay at the same level each year since 2001. That difference would have paid for the fire department to have expanded all this time and we would have had a world-class fire department in this county that would be capable of handling all that we needed to handle.

    What the county will do is likely leave the current rate place and just charge the fire tax on top of it and blame Mt. Juliet. What Mt. Juliet needs to do is to have a counter-propaganda campaign in place so that when the county starts pointing fingers at Mt. Juliet, once again fanning the flames of hatred and bitterness, Mt. Juliet can prove using facts and figures and laws that the county is the one that was at fault all along.

    $7.7 million will not pay for the costs of an adequate fire department. The county will have to nearly double what it spends on emergency services in order to have adequate fire protection in this county and that figure doesn’t include providing to the cities, that is just to cover the unincorporated portion of the county. Mt. Juliet will end up spending upwards of $6 to $8 million on emergency services in this city if they don’t work smart. However, both entities can save themselves several million dollars if they think wisely and act smart. It is those several million dollars that I am trying to save all of us, only they, up until now, have seemed to want to work against their own best interests.

    We recently have been talking about “Mutual aid”. Mutual aid is important, however, the issue of not unnecessarily duplicating services to a degree that is not reasonable or fiscally responsible is also an issue. Ideally you want people to be within a one and a half mile driving distance from a station. You certainly want to have the vast majority of your citizenry within five miles driving distance. Somewhere between one and a half miles and five miles lies a place where you have to decide whether to move stations closer together, add a station in between, or be satisfied with a five mile driving distance coverage in that area. If you have to stations, one a county station, and one a city station, that lie exactly 10 driving distance miles from each other along a particular road, there is no lapse of coverage area, and if each station is properly staffed and equipped you have adequate coverage in my opinion. However, you could put a station right at the point of convergence between the two stations. That would mean that many more people have coverage within one and a half miles of each station and you have very high levels of double coverage in much of both zones. The question then becomes, “does this make financial sense and does this make sense from a safety standpoint.” If both entities were to pay their share of the costs of that coverage, and if sufficient numbers of homes are covered by that additional station to make it financially sensible, then the entities should probably add the station. The ISO ratings for those people who are covered by that new station, at least those that are now within one and a half miles, would get better and their insurance rates would likely go down. By working together, this becomes feasible. However, if the two entities don’t work together, the new station probably will never happen because it would be leaned on by the entity that didn’t pay and the costs would be borne by only the one entity. Likewise, if the county has a station right up next to the city line, like around station 4, and the city expects the county to provide primary coverage in that area, the city should be willing to pay the county a fair and equitable share of the costs of that operation. The city is then able to mitigate its costs by not having to build and staff and equip a station in that area. The county can increase its services in that station because the city is helping with the costs of the enhancement. The people in that area all receive better and increased services as a result. What I am saying, I guess, is that we need to first figure out who is going to be primary response in each area, that way we can decided who is paying for what. Then, once that is decided, the mutual aid agreements should be agreed upon and signed. If the entities in this county were to work together, there would be a savings premium of perhaps $5 million to $8 million over what they will end up paying if they don’t work together.

    As far as getting back money or receiving some compensation back for what the county has done up until now is concerned, Sonny, I just don’t see that happening. I am not going to invest my time and energy, nor my money, to fight that battle. I don’t see a remedy there. I am not sure how the cost vs benefit equation could be developed based on what benefits we have received and what the costs were for those benefits. The $3.5 to $5 million in balance of payments that we have discovered include many different forms of revenue to the county, not just property taxes, and the county has the authority to use most of that money the way that they choose to use it, so I don’t know how you get that money back.

  148. Butch Huber

    There has been a nagging issue that I have not dealt with until today. I had heard and read about the lawsuits that were brought against the county over the issue of fire protection services, however, I had not actually seen those lawsuits. Today I went to the county courthouse and read up on those lawsuits. Those lawsuits were brought by people who lived a long way away from any county owned and operated fire stations and by people who lived in the City of Lebanon. Essentially, all they were about, from what I can tell, is that some people in this county felt that West Wilson County (Not just Mt. Juliet) was somehow getting a better end of the stick as it were. Those who lived out in the boondocks in the unincorporated portion of the county did not want to pay for services that those who lived in the densely populated areas of the county were getting, and those who lived in Lebanon didn’t like having to pay the county for services that it was providing for itself.

    Now, here we are at the precipice of starting our own fire station, and what we are going through seems like Corley and aslup vs Wilson County warmed over, but in reverse.

    In Corley and Alsup the complainants sought to force the county to levy a fire tax so that the costs of fire protection services could be paid for from the areas of the county in which they were provided to the degree that they were provided. Sounds fair to me. Sounds exactly like what I am seeking today.

    Why is the county so hell-bent against doing things fairly and equitably?

    The lawsuits concerned “Fire Protection Service”, not “Fire Suppression”, however, the county construed that to mean “Fire Suppression”, as a result they only placed, according to Mayor Hutto, “Fire Suppression” under the operation of the countywide fire department and left the remaining services under the aegis of WEMA.

    Now, here we are, dealing with the obstinate behavior of the county some nearly twenty years later. Still the same thing, only the problem is reversed.

    Clearly they can’t operate “ANY” regular emergency response operations under the civil defense statutes, and clearly all emergency response operations, except perhaps ambulance, have to be covered in the countywide fire department.

    The County clearly could not win this issue in court. Why would they even try to win? It isn’t even in their enlightened self-interests to win this in court, especially if Mt. Juliet is willing to wade into the emergency services business.

    The county is pushing for something that it didn’t really want, however, now that we are going down that road, the best thing that they can do is establish a countywide fire department and levy a fire tax.

    The Corley and Alsup case provides a great template for suing the county in court if one were to wish to do so. You couldn’t really simply duplicate what they have, however, you could get a lot of milage out of just rejiggering what is already done. The county lost that lawsuit, they would lose another one along the same lines.

  149. Randall Patrick "R.P." McMurphy

    Halftime Recap:
    The citizens of the city of Mj pay a county property tax. That is a set amount that cannot and will not be change by law. That amount PLUS other services amounts goes to the count and represents @25% of the money in the county coffers. For that county property tax from the citizens of MJ and the additional funds from MJ that represent that 25%, the city of MJ gets back @21% in value related services of which fire protection is one. That 4% defficiency represents @ $4-$6 million. The county property tax of that cannot be touched, what is left should be returned…the city of MJ leaders should request that ASAP. Make for a nice MJ Christmas and there’s no sense starting off the new year getting robbed in broad daylight.
    Then, we could begin to move forward with our “big boy britches” pulled up high and tight and protect ourselves in a adequate and customized, controlled fashion. See, I hear this “I don’t want to pay twice for the same service yada yada yada…” YOU ARE NOT. What you are paying for in the terms of your county property tax in the form of fire protection is for a SECONDARY (at best) effort. When all is quiet in the city of MJ, you have too few apparatus, not enuff of the right apparatus, and way by far a landslide shortage of personnel…the most meaningful part of a fire protection and/or ems service. When that first call comes in from one of the 26,000 citizens and station 3 responds to it…your fire hall is now empty. That means that NOW 25,999 OF YOU IN THE CITY OF MJ ARE NOW INADEQUATELY PROTECTED. When one call of help can not just reduce, but remove all of your stationed help…something ain’t right. If you are the one in the city of MJ that places that second call for help, your help is coming either from Lakeview, LaGuardo, or Gladeville. Now one of those 3 zones is inadequadely covered because they are in MJ doing the job. But getting back to the paying for something twice issue. Again, if MJ has its own FD..you will NOT being paying for the same thing twice. The MJFD and the county effort will NOT be the same. The MJFD will be able to handle more that one call WITHOUT leaving the city empty. You will be paying for ONE PRIMARY and PREMIUM service SPECIFICALLY designed for you by the city for the city and you will also be paying for a back-up…mutual aid from the county. It is like when you buy a car and insurance. Monthly you pay a note for the car and a note for the insurance. A car and a back-up. If you lose the car for whatever reason, you have been paying for a back-up plan that will get you another car. Before I get hammered on this, relax your brain, and just consider this. There is not a thing we can do about the county property tax so let’s move that from our table. For that money, the best we will get is a back-up plan to our fire protection need. Not to mention the fact that the county is doing for us in the area of fire protection begrudgingly…they will not do more. They CAN and they SHOULD by investing that 4% deficit of of $$$, but they will not. Shows you how much your county feels about you. MJ should do for itself and its citizens…YOU should have better than one call service.

    Stay warm, my friends.

    RP

  150. Butch Huber

    R.P.
    Nice attempt, but no prize. According to you, I should pay for mutual aid. I am supposed to pay for very low level secondary mutual aid, that I am actually paying for, which to me doesn’t sound like “mutual aid” to begin with, and then I am also supposed to pay for the premium service that I get in this city. But that isn’t bad enough, no, I am going to pay for our premium service in this city, accept the low level mutual aid from the county and pay for it, yet I am going to provide high level mutual aid to the county, but I am not going to charge them? Really?

    As far as the property taxes are concerned, you are right in one respect, we are going to be taxed at the same rate as the rest of the county. However, here is a mitigator. If the county has a fire tax, that fire tax is the only thing that they are authorized to spend on the countywide fire department. That means that all of the property taxes, situs based taxes, and other sources of revenues that have been and have not been shared with the Municipalities will remain available to be spent on other projects.

    R.P., if we have a countywide fire department that I am paying for and we have a city fire department that I am paying for, and if I pay a city property tax to pay for that city fire department, then I am paying twice for service that I am only getting once. Please don’t tell me that by paying for a service that I use as a back up while others get their back up from my city fire department and when what I am providing back exceeds what they give me I am not paying twice for something I am only getting once.

    As soon as I pay the city property tax in february, I will be paying twice for fire service. How many times will I be getting it? Once. As soon as the city establishes a fire department, the county will no longer provide service here a primary. How many times am I paying? I will be paying the county for services that I used to receive from them and no longer receive and I will be paying the city and will be receiving that for which I pay the city. Yes, I will by paying twice and receiving once. In terms of Mutual aid, I will likely be paying more to provide those in the county with mutual aid than they pay for me to have mutual aid, therefore, I am receiving less than that for which I pay.

    As far as getting any money back from the county, good luck with that. The county takes in property taxes, situs based taxes, and other sources of revenues, and may spend that money at its volition provided it is doing so according to existing state laws and according to its charter and its resolutions. Those sources of revenue that come from the federal government, have to be spent in accordance with federal guidelines, and if federal funds come with strings that control how local and state dollars are spent, even those have to be spent in accordance with federal guidelines. Beyond all of that, the county may do with the money as it pleases. This is one of the reasons that I say that the city and the county need not get into a huff over this, but rather work together to seek an equitable and fair solution to the problem and a solution that cures the cause of the problem, and not just solves a symptom of the problem. It is about using diplomacy and tact. I realize that these are skills that neither side really seems to understand, however, if we are ever going to have good relations in this county, someone has to start using them.

    If we are going to have a property tax, the city should start annexing into the city as much of the urban growth boundary as possible and it should expand to the extent possible all of the area of the county that it can into our urban growth boundary and then put that property inside the city as well. The city should raise taxes enough to cover all the expense associated with bringing those people into the city and additional above and beyond that to file lawsuit after lawsuit against the county to force the county to be equitable, to the best of the ability of the city to force them to be equitable, in the event that negotiations and talks fail. When those people being annexed into this city realize that they are being annexed into this city and will be taxed to death because the county will not behave equitably, perhaps they will start calling their county commissioners and wear them out to make them do what is right. Beyond that, all of the county commissioners on this side of the county would then be inside the city limits of Mt. Juliet, and therefore would have to deal with city residents. The city commission needs to stop being third fiddle in this county. We contribute 25% of the county’s budget yet Watertown is being treated better than we are being treated. They just got $600k free from the county, they got a loan from the county, meaning you and I, for the other $600 that they used to build a multi-use facility, they are about to get a $40 million high school in a city of only 1477 people, they get about everything they ask for from the county. It is as if the county is falling all over itself to do as much for Watertown as they possibly can. Yet, the county doesn’t want to do anything for Mt. Juliet. The city has to stand up for itself.

    As I have said, “you never sit down at a negotiation if you are not willing to get up from the table and walk away.” Huber’s number 1 rule of negotiation. Huber’s number 2 rule of negotiation is “pull all the arrows from your opponent’s quiver BEFORE you sit down at the table if possible, and if not possible, pull those arrows before you begin negotiations in earnest.” This sets the stage for Huber’s number 3 rule of negotiation, “Get your opponent on your side of the table working with you for a solution, rather than against you.” If you cannot get your opponent to come to your side of the table and work with you, you go to Huber’s number 4 rule of negotiation, “Shoot them with their own arrows until they decide to act nice and work with you from your side of the table”. You should have won the battle before you fire the first shot. The way that the city can do that is to go ahead and spend the money and assemble the team to determine what the city’s rights and powers are and to expose the county’s weaknesses. Determine your options if things don’t go well in the negotiation and what your BATNA (Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement) is and what you will do in the event talks fail. Settle on your BATNA before you sit down at the table, that way you will never sit down at the table without being willing or able to stand up and walk away. You want to set the situation up so that the last thing in the world they want you to do is walk away. That puts them in the inferior position before you even sit down to talk. They “NEED” you to stay, but you are more than “WILLING” to walk away. They will be violating Huber’s number 1 rule of negotiating. At the point where they sit down to the table unwilling to walk away, they have virtually lost their case.
    For each arrow that you grab to pull from their quiver, you have to have power, logic, rule, or right in order to be able to pull it, so you have to have your ducks in a row before you meet. As they systematically lose one position after another (The effect of pulling arrows from their quiver), they begin to feel less and less confident and their ability to debate on merit and logic dissipates. When they are out of arrows, they are laid bare. Defenseless. Now what you are dealing with in them is nothing but feelings, emotions, and opinions. You have already won the debate, you are just waiting to see if they will use their heads and do what is right, or if they will rely on emotions and feelings and opinions as the basis of their argument. If that is what they want to do, and if they won’t relent, you systematically shoot them with their own arrows, which means you let them know what legal and other battle that is about to befall them based on logic, fact, and law. If they still will not relent, it is time to get up, shake their hands, let them know that the battle has begun, and that at any time, should they be willing to play nice and find an equitable solution, they may call for a truce. Then, follow through on your threat and begin the battle and hit them with true shock and awe.

    This all presupposes that you are right. If you aren’t right, then you don’t need to sit down at a negotiation table, you just stop doing the wrong thing and you start doing the right thing. That is called having good character. You may want to have talks to determine the best way to do what is right, but if you know you are doing wrong, you just change and do what is right. Someone shouldn’t have to threaten to sue you to get you to do the right thing. If ever you find yourself in a place where someone is suing you to force you to do the right thing, you know your character has already been corrupted. A person shouldn’t want to be wrong, they should want to be right. A person who wants to be wrong is usually a thief. They want that for which they are not entitled. Whether that be favorability under the law or outside the law, or it be receiving money or other consideration of which they have not earned or deserve. They want the “OTHER” guy to benefit them without equal and opposite benefit to the “OTHER” guy, and I call that thievery.

  151. Sonny Griffin

    When you do the wrong thing, when you break the law whether knowingly or unknowingly, it usually comes back to bite you on your ass.

    The county has screwed up by illegally funding the county-wide fire department (WEMA) using property taxes.

    How do you unscrew this mess?

    In my opinion, the only thing that can be done is to wipe the slate clean and start all over.

    I believe that the Attorney General will conclude that the only way to pay for emergency services provided by the county-wide fire department in the unincorporated areas of Wilson County will be by establishing fire districts.

    I understand that the way this works for a county-wide fire department established under § 5-17-101, is that the whole county is made one big fire district. The incorporated areas (Mount Juliet, Lebanon and Watertown) are excluded but they can contract with the county for inclusion in that fire district in order to coordinate fire service county-wide.

    The county will levy a fire tax on the fire district to pay for emergency services in the unincorporated areas.

    The folks that live in the fire tax district will now be paying the fire tax plus their share of the county property taxes that were illegally used to pay for whatever fire services they received in the old system. However, they receive nothing for their county property tax money.

    If a city decides to contract with the county for fire services, the tax payers of that city will be paying contractually for those services plus their share of the county property taxes that were illegally used to pay for whatever fire services they received under the old system. However, they receive nothing for their county property tax money.

    If a city decides to furnish its own fire services, the tax payers of that city will be paying a city property tax for those services plus their share of the county property taxes that were illegally used to pay for whatever fire services they received under the old system. However, they receive nothing for their county property tax money.

    So, the county will be screwing every county property tax payer in Wilson County.

    It would not be completely equitable, but I believe it would be fairly easy to figure the amount of county wide property tax that presently goes to illegally fund the county-wide fire department. Lower the present tax rate to reflect that amount.

    It’s true that the county has to lower the tax rate but wouldn’t you hate to explain to an irate tax payer why he has to pay for something that he doesn’t receive if you are a county commissioner? I don’t think liberal versus conservative would play a role here because it affects everyones’ pocket book county wide.

    So the slate would be wiped clean and every body would pay for their fire services as they see fit. We would all get what we are willing to pay for.

  152. Butch Huber

    Sonny, did you just agree with me on fire taxes? I’m not trying to be funny, I am trying to see if you and I just agreed on this.

    One of the goals in this should be to expose the charade and reveal the truth. If they are exposed, and forced to be transparent with what they are doing with our money, then perhaps they will be more equitable. If they don’t vote to be equitable with our money we can then invest money to see to it that they don’t get to vote much longer.

    Perhaps we need to really look into establishing Wilson County as a home rule county with a home rule charter. Perhaps we need to put into that home rule charter a recall provision that would allow us to more easily get rid of politicians who want to use their offices for their own personal gain or for the gain of a select group of individuals. Maybe, as a part of that charter, we could include a provision for the citizens to hold politicians and the group of politicians accountable to the law. Perhaps, what we need to do is to put some things into that charter that would forevermore ensure that taxes are distributed in terms of services provided on an equitable and fair basis. Knox county is homerule, perhaps we could take a page from their playbook.

    I think we can get a lot closer toward equity if we pull back the veil and let the people see the truth.

  153. Randall Patrick "R.P." McMurphy

    Good Morning Friends and Neighbors,
    You know, there are some things in life that you just just readily bet the farm on…the grass is green, the sky is blue, and if you post here ANY OPINION that may run cross ways with Butch and his fire tax district mantra…you can rest assured his response will be rich in condescending tones and arrogance. Elatus persona non grata. Butch, I truly enjoy the world with you in it and I have made it abundantly clear to all that you are the most thorough researcher I know, but, my brother, your approach to debate is TOXIC to the receiver and to you. My posted comment was by no means any attempt nor persuit of a prize. To this end, I will bet you $5 and a box of glazes jelly doughnuts that when and if this all plays out and there is a LEGITIMATE effort in the area of fire/ems for MJ…it will look alot more like my description than yours. Now, do not get me wrong, I believe that your argument has the most merit…let me state that again…BUTCH, YOUR ARGUMENT HAS THE MOST MERIT. Not only is it the most proper but it is the most ethical for all involved. However, it is very labor intensive and time consuming. Just a couple of points, there are more, but these stick me the hardest…(in no particular order) 1. You need a city mayor that will stop humpin’ the county mayor’s leg…now I know that ain’t prudent but it is accurate. Ed is a good man but a bad mayor. He is willing to pay a premium for Hutto’s scraps and Hutto does not even want to give those up. This time last year, he had a first meeting with some WEMA employees and has since then met with one or two of them at a time over the year. To sum up, he stated he could not do for MJ because of the needs elsewhere in the county like Statesville, Vine, Norene, etc. Well, guess what? He has NOT done squat for them either over the last year. The county is NOT going to do anything more, not just for MJ, but for the county in the arena of fire/ems. And before anybody goes off half cocked and makes themselves look like the south bound end of a north bound mule, let me enlighten you to the additional personnel that have been hired and deployed. In the time they have been with the agency, attrition has taken its toll and those folks have simply filled new openings in the staffing effort. During the short month that they shown as additional personnel, they were deployed to Station 8(that’s the station as far away from MJ as you can get) bringing that station to 4 personnel from 2 only TWICE in the last 3 months. So it looks good in print, but is outdated before the ink dries. 2. You will expend an enormous amount of time, effort, and money getting the attorney general to pursue this with the necessary gusto. With all the contraindicating legislature to weed thru, this will be a mountain to move. If victorious, then the county will plead ignorance and you will get your fire tax district. At which point, 3. The county will screw the city again by giving MJ way less assets and effort for the fire tax amount. Remember what they say about those that do not learn from history and mistakes. For your money, I will bet you a wooden nickel all you will get is an additional in great need of maintenance used fire truck and MAYBE one extra person. Remember that. 4. With this next election, at the city level, you will see alot of familiar regurgitated names wanting to get back in the game. Names like Justice, Sorey, Mack, etc (Now I know you are a big fan of Kevin as am I,( I think the world of him…he is a decent man) but he had a shot to do something…some of those 26,000 citizens moved in during his reign and NOT OVERNIGHT…so if he had been diligent and knowledgable about fire/ems, we would be well down the road on this issue) All of these names and the etc have had a chance to do something AND DID NOT. So if you need a job done and your regular guy can’t do it…get a new guy. These are just a few and do not get me wrong…I love a challenge, but in this instatnce reality is what it is and we are burning daylight. For the record, I wish you the very best in your effort and I do so WITHOUT ANY arrogant or condescending tones. I bet in your response to this comment you do not have anything near that nice to say in return. Be that as it may, I think Sonny is right on. Clean the slate and let MJ get the hell away from the county as much as possible, especially in the area of fire/ems which is so very important to the citizens lives and health. The county does not want to do for us and if they are forced to they will do so begrudgingly and with the same effort of shortfall. They do not want us…let’s make that bite them in the butt.

    RP

  154. Sonny Griffin

    Butch, I agree with you about fire taxes in this situation because I believe that is the only way that we can legally pay for emergency services through a county-wide fire department in the unincorporated areas of Wilson County.

    My biggest concern about fire taxes is that we need mutual trust among the political entities involved to make it work properly and equitably for everyone. We don’t have that with Wilson County, Lebanon, Mount Juliet and Watertown.

    If this situation unfolds like we think it will and fire taxes are established, I would like to see the county offer the cities a menu of services that they would provide for a fee.

    For instance, if a city determines it needs an ambulance and staff to man it 24 hrs/day/year, it would cost the city X dollars.

    A fully trained firefighter/emt would cost Y dollars per year.

    And on and on with equipment, etc.

    This would give the cities options and would tend to coordinate fire services county-wide. This route would definitely be advantageous to the tax payer.

    After all, the cities are legally able to contract with the county for anything they want as far as emergency services offered by the county-wide fire department are concerned.

    Do you think we have the mutual trust to do something like this?

    Again, you get what you are willing to pay for

  155. Randall Patrick "R.P." McMurphy

    Butch,
    As an aside to our debate, would you be willing to answer a question? Why do you think I want MJ to have its own protection? I am aware and greatly appreciate your deep desire to see thinks done ethically and thoroughly legal, as well as efficient and productivly successful, for the greater good of your family and your neighbor. The effort you have afforded this debate is beyond reproach, I am a fan. But what about me? I am a retired career firefighter and officer. I have very little family here. I travel extensively with a group of fire professionals around the country writing and working mandates for NFPA and OSHA, which I thoroughly enjoy. What do you truthfully see as my motivation?

    RP

  156. Butch Huber

    R.P., you are a funny, funny man.

    One must start from where he currently finds himself, and he must use the resources that are available to him. We have perhaps what will be the first and last best chance to settle this issue during the next eleven months. We can’t count on the makeup of the city commission in the next election so we have to work with those who are on the commission now.

    What we have right now is a commission that is at least willing to seek answers to some complex questions. They have hired an auditor, they have agreed to seek the attorney general’s opinion, and they are working with MTAS from the city’s perspective on this issue.

    As far as toxic debate, I never impugned your character, I never disparaged you, I never said anything condescending toward you, all I basically said, is don’t Piss on my head and tell me that its raining.

    If you want to make a point, be willing to back up what it is that you are saying with facts and logic. I have, for a very long time, worked to paint the true picture that if Mt. Juliet enters the arena of providing fire protection services in this city, without having first ensured that we are not paying the county for those same services, we would be paying twice for the same service. Your post not only called that premise into question, it refuted it. Okay, if you are going to refute what it is that I have been saying, bring evidence.

    If you can prove me wrong, I will admit that I am wrong, and have done so on more than one occasion on this website. As I have always said, “I don’t want to be wrong, I want to be right”, however, you, or anyone else, just saying that I am wrong, doesn’t make me wrong. Being wrong makes me wrong. Proof of my being wrong is what I look for, not just opinion.

    As far as who’s plan will ultimately emerge, I don’t see how my plan is so complex. In fact, my plan is so simplistic I sometimes fear that it will appear to those who make decisions as being, “TOO EASY”.

    Here is how basis it really is:

    1) Establish a fire district that encompasses the entire unincorporated portion of the county.

    2) Place all regular emergency services operations, along with their costs, other than police protection, under the Countywide Fire Department.

    3) Divide up the assets of the countywide fire department as it exists today on a per capita basis and allocate those assets to each of the Municipalities and the unincorporated portions of the county.

    4) Each city must decide whether it wants to:
    a) Do its own thing, including:
    i) have a mutual aid agreement with the county
    ii) have a mutual aid agreement with other cities
    iii) have a mutual aid agreement with other counties
    iv) Have no mutual aid agreements

    b) Opt into the countywide fire district by contract which would include:
    i) Standards of performance
    ii) Levels of coverage
    iii) training requirements
    iv) Any other requirements that the parties deem necessary and prudent.

    c) Opt not to be included in the fire tax, but to enter an inter-local agreement with the county for the county to provide all or part of the emergency services provided to the city and under which the city provides those services to the citizens of that municipality that are not provided by the county. This agreement would also included such things as:
    i) Standards of performance
    ii) Levels of coverage
    iii) training requirements
    iv) Any other requirements that the parties deem necessary and prudent.

    Under option (C) above, the city would pay the county to provide whatever services the county provides to the city. In the event the city provides some or substantially all of its own services, with the county providing the remaining services, the city and the county could enter into mutually beneficial and equitable mutual aid agreements as well.

    d) The city could design and develop its own state-of-the-art public safety model and enter, if the county were willing, an agreement under which this city provides the unincorporated portions of the county, which are within 5 miles of our stations, with state-of-the-art public safety services for a fee that is equal to the distributive costs of the provision of such services. The county could pay for those services from the fire taxes it collects from the unincorporated portions of the county. If there is an area of the city that is not covered within five miles driving distance of one of our stations, but that is within five miles driving distance of a county owned and operated station, the city could agree to pay the county the distributive costs of the provision of services it provides to the city. Mutual aid agreements can be drawn up in a fair and equitable arrangement under this plan as well, but you first determine the primary coverage provider in each territory and that entity is compensated as a primary provider of services.

    e) The city and the county enter into a joint operations public safety program where they mutually and equitably fund the operations and where the command of such operation is according to a predetermined set of guidelines.

    f) The Cities of this county and the County Government could enter into an umbrella joint operation under which each entity is a partner and contributes according to its distributive costs and under which it is compensated for its contributions.

    My plan gives them so many options that they don’t currently have afforded to them because of this scheme that has been put together in order to heist money from this end of the county in order to be able to spend it elsewhere.

    For the life of me, I don’t understand why someone, once they saw the latitude that they have under this plan, would opt for anything less. There is so much flexibility and so many available options, options that can be picked and chosen from by the individual entities of this county based on their needs and desires, both now and in the future, to choose otherwise would simply leave that entity worse off than they would be by choosing it.

    Those are the broad strokes, or the framework as it were, of the plan that I am proposing. The details are things that are best left for the experts and those who are paid for their time contribution. Those things involve technical aspects that I am not qualified for nor suited for.

    I think the ultimate outcome will necessarily be one of the options that I have delineated herein, or some derivation thereof, and I think that because I can’t conceive of how it could be otherwise. That is to say, if we (I) were (am) able to get the county to establish the countywide fire department pursuant to TCA 5-17-101 (a) et seq, as their resolution actually says that they are to do, it would seem that on some level they would have to use one or more of the scenarios that I have provided above as a platform for moving forward. Under a fire tax scenario, Lebanon may choose one option, Watertown may choose another option, and Mt. Juliet could choose yet a third option. In each case, all four entities are required by law to ensure that any arrangement in which they enter is advantageous to them. The county has a compounding issue in that the county represents each and every one of us, therefore, any arrangement with Watertown has to be advantageous to me as a citizen of the county, and any arrangement it enters into with Mt. Juliet has to be advantageous to those who live in Lebanon as citizens of the county. What that means is that the county cannot legally enter into sweetheart deals with Lebanon and Watertown without risk of being sued by someone who lives in Mt. Juliet unless the same or an equally sweet sweetheart deal is being made with those who live in Mt. Juliet. All the while, any deal the county enters into with any other entity must be advantageous to those who live in the Unincorporated portions of the county or the county risks being sued by the people of the unincorporated portions of the county. Does this guard against inequity 100%? No. Does it set the stage to allow citizens to actually enforce the law and bring the county or the cities into account? Yes.

    If any eventual deal is not in compliance with the statutes of the state of Tennessee, and any deal is not defensible against a lawsuit, then it isn’t a “DEAL”, it is a temporary arrangement that will only last until someone is disenfranchised or disadvantaged to the point of action. It is not in any entities long-term interests to enter into an arrangement which eventually can and will be dismantled by a disgruntled citizen because such constructions are extremely costly when being disassembled.

    Now, as far as kind words, R.P., I can say that I appreciate your willingness to remain in the game instead of opting to stand on the sidelines or choose a different sport altogether. You are an intelligent and insightful person who possess a deep understanding of the need. You have a sincere desire to have good outcomes from this discourse. You have a unique outlook on things that brings a richness to the discussion and you provoke thought. You are a patriot and a great American. This site would not be quite as interesting without you on it. Thank you very much for your contributions and for your wisdom and knowledge of the issue, as well as your willingness to give them.

    R.P., you and I have disagreed, and we have even been disagreeable. If you can, however, point out a time on this site where I have every attacked you or your character, without having first been attacked by you, please point it out. I have attacked the actions of politicians without having been personally attacked by them first, but even then, in nearly every case, I first have addressed them for their nefarious or sinister deed and have been ignored or marginalized by them, then I bash them about the head, neck, and shoulders. If every I misspeak and say something that isn’t true, or that is unwarranted, I am always quick to come back on here an apologize. If I ever go off on someone in response to something that I misunderstood at the time of my going off on them, I come back, I admit that I was wrong, and I apologize. I am often accused of being arrogant, but it is usually a claim made by people who are mistaking my confidence and sureness for arrogance. But hey, if I have to be arrogant, I have no problem with that either if it is warranted. Truth, though, in and of itself, is not, “ARROGANCE”, it is truth spoken plainly and bluntly.

    Now, when it comes to government and government officials, sometimes you have to provoke. They ignore and marginalize to the degree that they are able, any citizen that actually questions them or attempts to hold them accountable. They operate in an environment where they are hedged against any charges of wrongdoing until such time as they step on the wrong set of toes or are about to step on the wrong set of toes. Sometimes you have to be over the top in order to get down what it was you really want to do. That, at times, can cause the onlooker to develop a mental picture that someone like me hates government, when in fact the exact opposite is true, I love government. I understand government. There is safety in government. Without government our rights mean nothing. I can’t even envision a world without government. I hate it when people run for office and take it upon themselves to ruin my government. The government is supposed to be of the people, for the people, and by the people. The government was never intended to be of corrupt politicians, for corrupt politicians, and by corrupt politicians. Government is good when it governs least, however, that saying doesn’t say, “Government is good when it doesn’t exist”. If, and I say, “IF”, my antipathy toward corrupt government at times crosses over in my dialog with you or the others on this blog, I apologize for any past, current, or future occurrences of such transference, it is not my intent.

    R.P., if I have in any way made you feel less of yourself, or if I have made you feel that I was attacking you personally, or if I have unwarrantedly attacked your ideas or ideals, or if I have slighted you in any way, or if I have made you feel I was in any way putting you down or demeaning your personal character, or if you feel that I was in any manner impugning you or your good name, or if I have ruffled your feathers in any manner when such ruffling was not rightly coming to you, or if I have in some way unwittingly or without cause gotten your dander up, or if I have elevated your blood pressure more than a few millibars (Is that the measurement?) when you have not giving me cause to do so, then I have to say I sincerely apologize to you for having done so in the past or in our current discourse, and I apologize in advance for any future occurrences of the same, beginning with this post and continuing until the end of the world as we know it, and if I should irritate you in the future Kingdom, I apologize for that now as well. I hope this settles all accounts and we can be friends. However, if this does not settle all accounts between us, well, then, I sincerely wish you well (In a truly non-arrogant manner).

    In closing, let me say, if you challenge me, bring it. I hate being wrong, so you can bet that if you bring proof and evidence of my being wrong, I will quickly adopt the new position or philosophy and then once again I am right. See how that works? Except for occasional (although all to many) adjustments to my premises, I am always right, because, once proven wrong, I quickly adopt what is right and I move on. Some people want to remain wrong due to some level of conceit or pride. I think that is stupid. Show me I am wrong, using convincing proofs and evidences, so that I can see that I am wrong, and I will quickly shift positions, sometimes so quickly it would spin your head, and then begin to promote what I have discovered, through your supporting evidence and proof, what is truly right. However, if we are dealing with your opinion vs my opinion, until proven wrong, I will zealously and vociferously defend my premises to the bitter end. I, sir, am no push-over.

  157. Butch Huber

    Sonny, I think you and I have found the place of agreement. I just posted a response to R.P. In that response I outlined my plan. I wrote this before I saw your last post.

    When Reagan was dealing with the Russians, he said, “Trust, but verify.”

    In my dealings with people I have come to know that a contract is really only as valuable as your willingness and ability to enforce it, financially and otherwise, and as good as the character of the parties. When I write contracts, I always write them with the certainty that they will be violated. I assume the worst in other words. I am the type of person that needs no contract to keep me in honest. If I can do a thing that would otherwise be written in the contract and agreed upon, I will do it whether there is a contract or not, and if I can’t do a thing the contract would never be able to make me do it. However, I have found that most people and entities run by people do not share that trait. Most people don’t think long-term when they enter into agreements, but rather they enter into agreements for the here and now, and when the here and now has passed, and the agreement is no longer as advantageous to them as it once was, they look to get out of the agreement whether you have received your reward for having fulfilled your end of the bargain or not. That is why, when I sit down to negotiate deals, I look at the deal also from the other guy’s perspective and I ensure that they see what I see as this deal goes 1 year out, 2 years out, 5 years out, 10 years out, and so on. I spell it out for them the best that I can and ensure that they see what is coming down the road. Then, to the best of my ability, I try to write into the agreement the contingencies to protect me when they eventually try to screw me, as they seem to always end up trying to do.

    Trust? I say, “Trust, but put it in writing.” Ensure that, in the event there is a divorce, your prenuptial agreement kicks in and you have protected your ASSets. Sonny, you and I are businessmen, we have learned these things by experience. Your insights are the insights of a man who makes things happen in the real world. Your instincts are correct. I feel the same things that you feel and I see the same things that you see. That is why, I push for the county to be straddled with fire taxes as the means to pay for fire protection in the unincorporated portions of the county and for the cities to be allowed to handle things the way that they want to handle them. This levels the playing field. I don’t recommend that the city enter into the fire tax district, I recommend that the city collect the money that it wants to invest into public safety and use that money as a carrot and a stick.

    In reference to emergency medical response, if the city were to allow the county to continue to provide emergency medical response, it should be on a profit sharing basis (We all know that the county makes money off of ambulance services in this city). The real and reasonable costs of the services should be determined and then any revenues above and beyond the costs should be shared between the entity providing the service and the entity receiving the service. This cuts both ways. If the city were to provide ambulance service the same arrangement would work the opposite direction as well, wherein the county receives a part of the bounty from the city, but only from profits derived from calls for service in the unincorporated portions of the county. LIkewise, the city would only receive bounty from the portion of ambulance services that are provided in the city.

    The same scenario as with emergency medical service could be played out with all other services for which the state allows the county or city to charge a fee for service.

    I am concerned that if we were to enter into the fire tax district we would end up with exactly what R.P. was talking about wherein we get one person and a decrepit old ambulance that costs more to maintain than it costs to put a bullet in its head and buy another. Under a situation where the city controls the money flow, the county would have to meet certain criteria in order to receive the money. That shifts the control and power to the city where it concerns the citizens in this city. The city can determine what level of service we want, and if they decide to work with the county they city could pay the actual costs and no more. Contacts for this should be drawn up considering every eventuality or circumstance that could reasonably occur and there should be contingencies in place and structure put in place to ensure that we are never, ever, never ever ever, over a barrel again. Our safety and security should never again be held hostage by nasty hearted politicians at the county level.

    I think both the county and the city need to mitigate the costs of the operation by charging as much for fees for services as reason law will allow. Those charges ultimately, in most cases, can be passed through to the person’s insurance anyway. Even if they can’t, those who receive services should pay for that which they receive. This should be true no matter how long it takes that person to pay back the debt, even if the costs have to be attached to their estate. At the same time, there can be a benevolent fund established to help those who cannot afford to help themselves. I am not heartless, I just think that government should stop picking winners and losers and I think it should stop taking my money from me and giving it to someone else. I will decide who gets my money and who doesn’t, thank you.

  158. Butch Huber

    R.P., you and I are not in disagreement. I, too, think that Mt. Juliet should have its own fire protection. I do believe that there are some who want Mt. Juliet to have its own fire protection service so that they can leave WEMA and still work in this area. I don’t think you fall into that category. I think your motivation is pure. I think you want this city to have its own fire department 1) because you see that as best for the city from an operational aspect, 2) you want the city to be able to control and determine its own level of provision, 3) because you have seen a lot of things in your line of work and you are trying to set things up so that they protect and serve the best way possible, and 4) because you have insight and understanding of the matter from a perspective that only someone in your situation could see, having traveled about and seen many different versions and flavors of fire protection service provision and you are trying to hedge this city against the nefarious and sinister dealings that go on in intergovernmental operations.

    I think that cooperative arrangements between the parties that mitigate costs and at the same time enhance service are the best solution, however, I in no way think that the city should allow itself to be in a situation ever again under which the county can put us over a barrel. We should own stations, equipment, and have people working directly for this city, and it should be in sufficient quantity, amount, and numbers that, in the even that any agreement between the party failed, the city would still have adequate levels of protection necessary to ensure our safety. I am personally not an advocate of cost sharing with the county so that the county and the city can provide minimum levels of protection at the least possible costs, I am an advocate of using ration and reason to develop a model service wherein if either party were to void an agreement or terminate an agreement between the parties both parties would continue to have at least minimum levels of protection while they ramp up their services in the aftermath. I think we can have more for less, but I don’t advocate frugality to the point of being in jeopardy if agreements fail. Perhaps I have given you the wrong impression.

    My perfect solution, in this imperfect marriage, is that the city own the assets that exist in this city, that there be ample city owned assets in order to provide at least minimally adequate levels of protection in the event that any arrangement between the parties fail, but that the parties work with each other to ensure that we are not creating waste and to ensure that we leverage our investments to the maximum level possible. However, we should own, or at least control, the assets that would be used in the aftermath of a dissolution of any agreements. This can all be developed and put into contracts and agreements between the parties. With fire taxes, there are so many possibilities that they seem endless, without fire taxes we will be forced to pay twice for something we only receive once and the bitterness will continue ad nauseam.

  159. Chief O'Hallorhan

    Agree completely with all three of your lasts post RP. Butch I agree in theory about the fire tax districts but the County will not do ANYTHING but nickle/dime and get us the least they can. This reduction in property tax and replacement for fire tax has about a good a chance of passing the budget committee as the employees do getting a raise. The county doesn’t want to cover us regardless of the legalize on the funding. The 26,000 plus residents want better and deserve better and I’m sure they wouldn’t mind paying extra for better.

  160. Butch Huber

    Chief, I don’t think the county is going to have a choice but to establish a fire tax. They have been ordered to do so by C.K. Smith. County resolution S99-8-2 allows the county to utilize the alternative form of funding for the countywide fire department, however, they can only do so if there are sufficient revenues to cover “ALL” of the costs of the countywide fire department. The moment they have to use one red cent of property tax to cover those costs they have to have fire taxes. If the attorney general does weigh in, I believe he is going to have no choice but to opine that all of the services provided by WEMA are actually a part of the Countywide Fire department, that WEMA cannot be delegated the responsibilities, duties or powers of the countywide fire department, that the countywide fire department is a separate entity from WEMA and it also, as Sonny has pointed out, a separate agency that is established pursuant to TCA 5-17-101 (a), and therefore is out of the control and direction of the County Commission, and that the county has to pay for the countywide fire department with fire taxes because the county doesn’t have sufficient funds to pay for it otherwise.

    I am not opposed to pay more for more service, especially if that cost is offset in a decrease in my homeowner’s insurance.

    Chief, you do want to do all that is possible to set things straight, don’t you?

  161. Sonny Griffin

    Chief, there has to be an adjustment in property tax rates.

    You can not tax someone for something that they do not receive.

    The problem with this whole damned thing is that the county illegally funded the county-wide fire department to subsidize emergency services to the unincorporated areas of Wilson County.

    They broke the law and whoever is responsible for this travesty should go to jail. But, I am so sorry . I forgot these assholes are politicians and immune to the law.

    Why do you want to let them get away with this BS Chief? Do you want to keep on paying the county for emergency services that you don’t receive?

  162. Randall Patrick "R.P." McMurphy

    Sonny,
    The county has been doing it for years and now the CITY is getting into the business. Taxing and not receiving…the city is picking up bad habits from the county…all the more reason to distance.
    RP

  163. Sonny Griffin

    R. P.,

    As a citizen of MJ, I have to trust either the city or the county to furnish my emergency services. The county has failed miserably.

    The county has taken my property tax money and used it elsewhere. Not only is it illegal to take my property tax money for emergency services but they have added insult to injury by using it elsewhere. On top of it all, they have provided me with inadequate services.

    How do I distance from the city? Do I say, well hell, I’ll just personally furnish my own private emergency services and buy myself an ambulance and a fire truck?

    We have a city property tax dedicated to emergency services. We can have whatever level of emergency services we want in MJ.

    What we have to realize is that we have to pay for our services. There is no free lunch. The way the economy is going, we’ll be lucky to be transporting folks to the emergency room in the bed of a pick up truck.

    The good news is that the city is not going to use my money to subsidize emergency services for somebody else.

  164. Chief O'Hallorhan

    Butch and Sonny,

    No I do not want to continue to pay for something I don’t get and yes I want to see it set straight. Lets talk reality here though, MJ has been taking it on the chin since 1986 (first interlocal agreement). The city government has bowed to the county on this topic and continues today. Until they get some people at the table that will vote to play hardball with them we will continue to see the same old song and dance.

    The people who post on RFMJ all have great ideas and point out things that are wrong with the current system and what needs to change. The one thing none of us have at either the city or county level to change the path… a seat at the Commission. Threats of “voting them out” or finding someone else is valid, but we needed the change yesterday.

    Just continues to amaze me that we continue to focus on fire fire fire… when everyone gives the police issue a pass. We pay twice for police protection in MJ yet we want to start a revolution when its brought into the emergency services discussion “I’m not paying twice for fire protection”.

    I’ll just start reading from this point to the comments and hold judgement until I actually see something come out from either the city or the county that involves.. bricks, mortar, a fire engine, new uniforms, and faces.

  165. Randall Patrick "R.P." McMurphy

    Sonny,
    Sorry for the confusion. I am not talking about distance from the city. I am speaking of following your suggestion to get the distance from the COUNTY. I am being asked about just what this city tax is for and I tell them nothing right now. The city leaders are either going to use it to “buy” scraps from the county leaders that have a grudge against us or they are saving up to make a very uneducated purchase and play in the fire/ems effort. Either way, at present, it is money out of your pocket with nothing to show for but a couple of bad ideas. I have in my time built and run a department…yes it takes $$$, but the fire service and the services offered are particularly specialized and it takes WISDOM to make the most of the funds. What I find alarming is the city is getting the funds, but not the WISDOM.

    RP

  166. Butch Huber

    R.P.,

    I think the city is looking for wisdom and it is gaining understanding and insight, albeit very slowly. They spent money to pay a professional organization that deals with public infrastructure as a business enterprise to help identify a site for the fire department. I personally disagree with the selected site, but that is based on my logic and not necessarily on how things are done in the real world of fire protection services. Doesn’t mean I am wrong, doesn’t mean I am right, I just simply have a difference of opinion. The city is willing to ask the AG to weigh in on the issues. The city has hired another firm to conduct and audit and make recommendations regarding current and future needs of the city. They have even been willing to listen to some of what I have been telling them.

    I will agree with you that they need to do a lot more listening and a whole lot more gaining of insight and understanding, but at least they are moving in the right direction and they are taking action.

    To the fire fighters who visit this site, we heard you. You have been saying from the beginning that the solution is for Mt. Juliet to have a fire department of its own. It appears that we are well on our way to Mt. Juliet having its own fire department. I agree with you that we need to at least “OWN” the department. I think there are various different versions of what could come out of this, but I think we should own the assets or at least control the assets. I believe everyone, or substantially everyone, who visits this site is in agreement that we should control the emergency services in this city regardless of how it is constructed. I don’t see any of us reversing course on that point.

    I don’t think the debate is about whether or not we should be in control of our own emergency services, I think the debate is about whether or not we are going to hold the county accountable and force them to stop taking our money and not giving back that for which they tax us. What I would ask you to do is to stand with those of us who are trying to hold the county accountable just as we have stood by you in working to get this city to take control of the emergency services in this city. Any public official looking at this site should see unanimity between us on the focal points of this issue. They need to see that we are unified and resolved on certain points, which include, but are not limited to:

    1) Anything but adequate service in Mt. Juliet is simply unacceptable.
    2) Anything but safe levels of manpower in Mt. Juliet is simply unacceptable.
    3) Anything but complete control of those services by our city is unacceptable.
    4) Anything but an equitable taxation and provision of services scheme is unacceptable.
    5) Anything but governments following the law is unacceptable.

    Firefighters, I guarantee you that, if we don’t take this whole issue across the goal line you will be back at it soon after you get what it was you were seeking from the beginning. The county seems to be like the kid you grew up with who you had to beat up about once a month because he just would not recognize when he was whipped. Unless we pin them to the wall, and keep them pinned to the wall, they will do whatever they can think of to redo anything we come up with so that they can once again disenfranchise the citizens on this side of the county. This issue should not be abandoned once we get the fire fighting issue resolved. The fire fighting issue is just a symptom of an overarching problem. We need to position ourselves so that the county doesn’t have the kind of power and influence, as well as leverage, to ever be allowed to disadvantage the people of West Wilson County ever again. When you guys fight fires, you fight until the fire is out, and if you fight them like the Navy teaches, you set a re-flash watch once the fire is out just to ensure that it doesn’t start raging after you thought it was over. That is how this issue needs to be handled. We need to put the fire out completely by driving things until they appear to be in a place where the county has been pinned to the wall, then we need to remain vigilant in the future and watch over their every move to prevent them from developing yet another illegal or inappropriate scheme against us.

  167. Sonny Griffin

    R. P. and Chief,

    You share my frustration and I basically agree with both of you on most issues.

    I’m sure both of you and several others that post on this site have thought, “we’re just pissin in the wind”.

    I really do believe that our efforts have not gone unnoticed by the powers that be. If I were a city or county commissioner, I would read this site every day. But maybe I’m wrong.

    Publius what is the average number of hits on this site per day?

  168. Randall Patrick "R.P." McMurphy

    Butch,
    They ARE taking too much time and too few steps. Using your logic, I am not right, I am not wrong, I merely have that as an opinion and I back it up with knowledge and experience. I dropped the hint of full disclosure, you have taken the the responsibility of a path forward that is logical AND legal…they have everything they need save intestinal fortitude and the ability to ask and act on the help available. MJ is a full time city with a full time need and yet the “team” that can fix it is part-time 4hrs/month. This is my plug for a full time government to meet the full time needs of a full time city. At this moment they have proof that the county has been taking their lunch money, they have a plan to stop this even started taking money for it…yet they are still purchasing the wrong parcel of land and acting on the wrong plan to work with the county. They ain’t near on the right track, yet. Close…but NO cigar. They are grown men afraid of the knowledge that will lead them to act. They are where they are by a forgotten means…real men fought a real fight elsewhere for the PRIVILEDGE to make life better here. Ignorance is bliss…and they are maintaining a high level of happy.

    RP

  169. Butch Huber

    R.P. I agree with what you have just stated, I think.

    Wrong piece of land? Why do you say it is the wrong piece of land? I thought it was wrong, by my position was based on logic and my limited knowledge of what you guys do. I would like to know your reasoning as to why you feel it is the wrong piece of land.

    This city has a city manager and a city attorney, yet they seem to be spending very, very little time and effort on this issue. The city commission lets them get away with doing nothing. Yet it was those same two clowns that work so hard and fought so hard to get the city to purchase the old high school property and give it to the YMCA. My point being, they have shown a willingness to work hard, even going beyond direction of the commission, to develop projects that they believe in, therefore, it would seem to follow that the reason they aren’t getting behind this is because they don’t care about it.

    This city needs more minds and more hands working on this issue. There is nothing wrong with the city acquiring assets and setting the stage to build a fire department, including developing a robust fundraising campaign, however, they really need to settle this issue with the county.

  170. Randall Patrick "R.P." McMurphy

    BH,
    There are number of reasons why this is wrong. Wrong plan, wrong intent, wrong result. According to Ed, this is the land where Mj will build a fire station for the county to fill with assets and personnel. WHEN the county does not do this, then, according to Ed, the city will get into the fire business and this is a lousy location for the first MJFD station. Wasteful. He needs to find a locale that will be better suited for either contingent. Instead he is blindly doing something for the sake of motion on the issue (most likely for his re-election campaign) for it will only aid the noisy portion of citizens south of I40 and do nothing for the rest of the citizens. He needs to work on a plan for all 26,000 voters that has merit and is solid as in not based on the whims of a flaky county court full of paper toting self serving rednecks. That’s just one reason…but its a good one.

    RP

  171. Butch Huber

    I suggested the property on Pleasant grove road near walmart. I suggested that they could make a cut-thru at Chedder’s, like there should be anyway, but that they could make that an emergency vehicle access only ingress/egress if they wanted. If they did that all of Del Webb would be covered by that station, within five driving distance miles, and so would the front end of Willoughby Station. From that station they could cover most of the commercial on Lebanon road as well, so there would be double coverage within five miles. I would suggest a station outside of Somewhere near North Green Hills and another near the High School. Would those three locations, in your opinion, be more well suited for the needs of the city?
    I tried to get them to work with the county. I even went to city hall and addressed them during citizen comments and suggested that they work with the county on site selection. I asked Mayor Hutto to reach out to them, and I asked them to reach out to the county. They voted to purchase this piece of property anyway. This city now has, I think, 67 acres on york road, four acres along Mt. Juliet road, another acre on Mt. Juliet road, 8 acres on pleasant grove road, four or five acres in Belinda City/providence, plus all the land at the park in Belinda City, all available for the city to do something with. It would seem that it would be time to start unloading some of this land and use the profits to build our a fire department.
    I really think that they need to develop a serious fundraising campaign where you can buy bricks or tiles or some such thing at the fire stations. A plaque or engraved granite slab could be placed in the station or outside the station listing the contributors. I don’t even see why you couldn’t sell space on the vehicles for advertising. The city could even have an LED sign out front that thanks people for donations. They could have buckets at every business in this city asking for donations as well. The fire stations could even be named for or by major donors. I see nothing wrong with doing these things and I see everything right with doing it. Those who have money could contribute and use the tax deduction. Businesses can use it as advertising or charitable giving. Everyone wins. Businesses could contribute to a citywide silent auction as well.

  172. Sonny Griffin

    Great ideas, Butch.

    Fund raising in this community always does well. We have a lot of generous people out here and this is for the well being of all MJ citizens.

    When does the old city manager go? As we all know Kenny is 110% MJ. He would take the ball and run with this.

    Speaking of the city attorney, how much longer are we going to put up with his sorry ass?

    I don’t want to get anything started among the three of you, but the location of MJ’s first fire station seems to be more complicated than it appears.

    On one hand we have Butch and R. P. and on the other we have Chief with a totally different take on the matter.

    I picture myself on the city commission listening to both of your arguments. It seems that both sides have made logical, informed, well thought out and researched presentations. When I have solid and differing opinions like this, I have a choice. The question is; would it be better to put the station on the south side or the north side of the interstate.

    The problem is, that both sides were not presented to the commission so I didn’t have a choice. I was asked whether or not to buy a parcel of land on the south side. No choice as to the location. With all the clamor to get something done about inadequate fire services was I going to say no to this? Instead, we have the usual knee jerk reaction all government entities in the US are famous for.

    But, whose fault is it?

    Who should have researched this issue and presented several options to the commission? The City Manager. Who should have instructed him to do so? The City Commission.

    So the buck stops with me, the city commissioner. I should have asked for professional research on the appropriateness of the Belinda City location versus other locations.

  173. Butch Huber

    Sonny, they always had the other option. There are 8 acres by walmart that was stolen from the developer of the Paddocks for the purpose of putting a police station there. The city could have easily built a dual purpose public safety facility there and they knew it before they voted. They could have amended anything they needed to amend, they could have voted to table the option to purchase the land in Providence, they could have used the land at the park in Belinda City if need be, they already had land that was provided by Providence for a fire department, they have land on Mt. Juliet Road, and they had the power of eminent domain. They had plenty of options, they just opted for this piece of property for some reason unknown to me. The inter-state issue was suggested to me by one of the commissioners, and I really think it is a valid point that if there were some type of blockage of traffic they wouldn’t be able to immediately get through to the other side of the interstate. However, they could actually call on Gladeville and they could circle around to the other side by central pike or beckwith road. They gave up about a mile and a half of double coverage in order to put the station in Providence. I would have opted for the Pleasant Grove Road Site because it would have given us the extra double coverage, and because this is the type of reason the land was stolen form the paddocks owner anyway. However, it does appear that the city is intent on annexing a bunch of land into the city, including south of Providence, so, perhaps, in the end game, this is the better site. I think there are variables in this that I have not been made privy to, so I don’t quite know what to make of it. If they are going to annex a lot of land, though, I would think that some parcel down South Mt. Juliet road would have been a better selection.
    I think that they were presented with a parcel along South Mt. Juliet Road, but turned it down.

  174. Sonny Griffin

    Thanks for clearing that up for me, Butch.

    I do think, however, this action was putting the cart before the horse.

    I, like you, think things should have been cleared up with the county before this purchase was made.

  175. Randall Patrick "R.P." McMurphy

    All,
    another point to consider concerning this locale. The 2 factors that go into zoning for emergency services are distance and time. WEMA has faced this before with the development of the area at I40 and Hwy 109. The area is easily access by st 6 …pull out turn left; however the zone is actually st 5. This location in Belinda City (more likely than not because of response time) will have a northern border of Old Lebanon Dirt Rd. That means this station will be of little use to anyone on Division or north thereof. Willouhby Station will still get back up from st 4 and st 6. (Because of traffic and turns, you can still get to MJ City Hall faster from 4 and 6. The end result will be MJ builds the station, MJ buys the trucks, MJ pays for the personnel, WEMA get to put stickers on it all and deploy it as it sees fit. See, once those assets of trucks and people are designated WEMA, they can be sent anywhere in the county. The employees at the Belinda City station could easily be deployed to a wreck on I40 outside their zone, a structure fire in Gladeville, the list goes on…The point is MJ is going to do all the buying then turn it all over to the county which has a track record of dishonesty toward MJ and not have the authority over the assets thus losing the benefits.

    RP

  176. Randall Patrick "R.P." McMurphy

    Goodshot, Sonny. Nothing has changed with this county court. It is the same bunch that is taking 25% and returning 21%…the same attitude of the “big boy britches brigade”, the same that CAN and SHOULD but WILL NOT provide MJ with adequate protection, the same that will take MJ city property tax money and use it at their discretion, not MJ’s. This action and any additional fire protection that is put under their authority is going to be a detriment to MJ in the long run. MJ needs to settle this issue with the county. The problem is the TIME that this will consume. MJ can multi-task and provide better for its citizens AND iron the issues out with the county LEGALLY at the same time. Your people need this now.

    RP

  177. Shawn Donovan

    The exact thing is already happening in Mt. Juliet with the current interlocal agreement with the volunteer firefighters. Mt. Juliet recruited, equipped, and paid the training cost for a group of volunteer firefighters in 2008 in the area of $ 120,000.00 and once the recruiting, equipping, and training was completed Mt. Juliet turned over these firefighters to WEMA to serve in the WEMA Volunteer Division and yes Mt. Juliet doesn’t have any authority over this group of Firefighters, we report to WEMA entirely.

  178. Greetings and God’s blessings to all this morning and during this Happy Holiday season. Be it known far and wide, There ain’t no X in my CHRISTmas!!! Hope this note finds you all well and your families safe and healthy.

    FYI. This Saturday morning at 0800 “ish” Shawn Donovan and I will be getting together for some coffee @ Hardee’s on Leb. Rd. All are welcome to come and contribute to the friendship and fellowship. No RSVP required. It will be good to see any and all, hope to see a bunch. Until then, God bless you and yours, stay safe, and ever ready to serve. See ya, SD.

    In His service,
    Jamie

    Hebrews 10:24-25 (check it out)

  179. Butch Huber

    A point that needs to be driven home is that Wilson County is operating normal, everyday, regular emergency services under an organization that was established for the purpose of providing emergency service response during the event of a nuclear, biological, or chemical attack, or during any catastrophic disaster of unprecedented size that has caused, or potentially could cause, damage or destruction on such a large scale that it would overwhelm local forces and exceed their ability to appropriately respond and therefore require additional support from the state or federal government. It seems to me, based on my personal interpretation of the statutes involved that the county has no authority to operate regular emergency services under this construction yet they continue to do so even after it has been brought to their attention that they have no authority to do so.

    The Tennessee Emergency Management Agency was established for the purpose of ensuring that the state has the vital resources necessary for, and has the capability of, responding to disasters of epic proportion, such as those that occur during an attack on this country. Wilson Emergency Management was established to be the Local Emergency Management Agency contemplated in the Civil Defense Statutes contained in T.C.A. $$58-2-101-58-2-124. It is my personal opinion and belief that nothing in those statutes authorize the county in any way to provide regular, routine, ordinary, everyday, local emergency services to citizens in this county or in any other county. It is my personal opinion and belief that the only time that the county may operate active emergency response under the WEMA umbrella is when a declaration of a state of emergency has been made by either the Governor of the State or by the Mayor of Wilson County.

    Let me make this absolutely clear, it is my personal opinion that, if at any time any emergency service worker provides active emergency response in Wilson County, or anywhere else in the state, under this illegal construction, that worker could potentially fall outside of any liability insurance or indemnity that they would otherwise be entitled to if they were in fact operating under a legal organization. If this is proven to be an actuality, it seems to me, based on my understanding of the law as a laymen, that in the event someone is harmed or claims to be harmed by an emergency worker, that person could, in my opinion, potentially sue the worker individually and that worker’s entire estate and future earnings could be at risk.

    To all Emergency Services workers in Wilson County who provide emergency services for Wilson Emergency Management Agency, I would highly recommend that you contact an attorney to discuss your potential liability and your exposure under the current construction of the Wilson County Emergency Management Agency and under the Construction and operation of the Countywide Fire Department.

    You serve us, now I am doing the best to help you ensure that you and your families are not put into unnecessary danger of personal harm due to this apparently illegal construction the county has put together.

    If you are not authorized to provide regular emergency services of any type under the Statutes provided in T.C.A. §§58-2-101–58-2-124, as is indicated in Attorney General’s opinion A.G.Op U92-134, and considering that Mayor Hutto has told me personally that all of the services provided through WEMA, except for fire suppression, are provided by WEMA and not by the Countywide Fire Department, and if the Countywide Fire Department is being operated by WEMA, and if WEMA is not authorized to operate a Countywide Fire Department because T.C.A. §§58-2-101–58-2-124 does not authorized an Emergency Management Agency to operate a Countywide Fire Department, then, in my opinion, you are not providing services under a legally constructed emergency management organization.

    How would your working for WEMA providing regular emergency services be different than if I went out and established a fire department and started providing fire, ambulance, and rescue services to the general public and you working for me? Unless I am legally constructed, and unless I am certified by the state as a legally constructed entity to provide services under the entity, if you are working for me and providing services, and you allow someone to be harmed or die and it can be shown that you were not legally providing such services but were in fact acting under the color that you were authorized to provide such services as an emergency service worker, wouldn’t you be liable to civil and even possibly criminal charges? How is that different if you are working for a County? A county is a corporation that is chartered by the state. That corporation has to follow all state laws and regulations just like any other corporation must follow all state laws and regulations. What is different?

    If I were you, and I worked for WEMA, I know what I would be doing next. I would be picking up the phone and calling an attorney. I would want to make sure that what I do is not placing my entire livelihood and my assets in jeopardy. You deserve to know for certain that you are covered in the event that you are sued in court.

    Short recap:

    TCA §§58-2-101-58-2-124 does not allow the provision of active emergency response by an emergency management agency when such service is in response to regular, ordinary, routine, everyday type of calls for services. The attorney general has opined on this fact, therefore there should be no disagreement between us on this point.

    The budget for the county clearly shows that most, if not all, of the money used to pay you for the services that you are providing to the public on a regular, ordinary, routine, everyday basis comes from the civil defense fund, and up until this year, all of your pay has come from the civil defense fund. It seems clear to me that you are in fact being paid to provide routine, regular, everyday, ordinary emergency services through a fund that was clearly set up to pay for the operation of the Wilson County Emergency Management Agency.

    The County Mayor told me to my face that the County operates all emergency services except for Police and Fire Suppression under WEMA, and that Fire Suppression is covered under the Countywide Fire Department, which was delegated to WEMA. All of the services have been, up until this fiscal year, paid for from the funds that go to civil defense.

    According to my understanding of law as a laymen, T.C.A. §§58-2-101–58-2-124 do not authorize the county to operate, maintain, or control a countywide fire department that provides routine, ordinary, regular, and everyday types of fire suppression except under narrowly authorized periods of declared states of emergency.

    Additionally, the County only has the right and power to obligate the taxpayers to debts that are lawful and/or lawfully entered into. It would seem to me, as a laymen, that in the event you are injured on the job and if the injury occurred while you were providing routine, ordinary, everyday, regular emergency services, any insurance you currently carry or that is paid for for you by the county, might potentially be able to deny your claim. It further seems to me, as a laymen, that if the insurance were to deny your claim because you are providing services that are unlawful, the county would be looked to to cover your costs for your injury. It further seems to me, as a laymen, that the county could potentially be barred from covering your costs if it is determined in a court of competent jurisdiction that you were harmed while providing services illegally, even though they were the ones who created the unlawful construction. It would seem to me, as a laymen, that, if you were permanently disabled, or partially disabled, your ability to file a claim for worker’s compensation or other form of compensation could be denied.

    You decide, but decided carefully, if what I am telling you makes sense to you. I believe you are potentially exposed to a possible lawsuit and potentially exposed to criminal negligence charges if you are found to be guilty of providing such services unlawfully.

    I believe, and I could be wrong, that there are very strict statutes and regulation as to how you can and cannot provide official emergency services in Tennessee. If you operate outside those statutes and regulations, it would seem that you would be operating illegally and could be subject to official action and civil penalties.

    My public disclaimer to this post. I am not an attorney and I am not authorized to provide legal advice, nor am I rendering any legal advice. . Anything contained in this post should be taken to by the reader to be my personal opinion and not a legal rendering or legal advice. You should seek the advice of a competent legal professional if you feel that there is any validity or merit to what I have posted herein to determine what your rights and liabilities are and what you can do to ensure that you and your families are protected.

  180. Randall Patrick "R.P." McMurphy

    Wow.

    RP

  181. butchhuber

    Merry Christmas to all.

  182. butchhuber

    To all:

    I have been working to put together a blog site that is dedicated specifically to this issue. I would like to have photos of each station, inside and out, as well as photos and Bios of each person working for WEMA. If you have photos of things happening in the field I would love to have those to add to the blog. Any input you can give to me, in terms of regulations, requirements, suggestions, training materials, standards, etc. would be helpful as well. The site is being developed to have a public interest appeal, but it is also being developed to explain the issue from the thirty thousand foot view, the ten thousand foot view, the thousand foot view, and the street level perspective so that anyone who is interested can take a serious look at the facts and figures and come to an educated conclusion about this issue based on the truth, and not just what they are allowed to hear from the government. The real life scenarios that you guys painted on here in the past are very compelling. It helps if they are “NOW” type of scenarios. Also, historical perspectives are great as well. There may be some among you who have a ten year, fifteen year, twenty year, and even thirty to fifty year perspective on this issue. I would love to hear your input as well. Knowing the long and short of things is very helpful when you are trying to develop public opinion.
    My thought is to build a blog site that is dedicated to this issue, then have business cards and or post cards made that direct people to the site, then distribute the cards in the community. Hopefully, those who visit the site will like it to their twitter and facebook accounts and will send the address of the site to friends and family. Hopefully this will get some traction.
    The site will have a call to action as well. It will ask people to become involved by calling their commissioners and the county mayor and to ask them to contact the media to ask the media to become more involved.
    I may include in the site, once I check to see what is legal or not, a page asking people to donate toward a legal fund if and when necessary to sue the county. I think once people become educated on the facts, and they realize that they are about to go down a slippery slope where they are going to end up paying through the nose for city services that they also are paying the county to provide, they will become much more vocal. We will see.
    This site will also list the facts so those in government can see them and understand them. They will have no excuse not to pay attention and do the right thing. People will be able to ask specific questions and I will be able to systematically direct them straight to the answers without having to write the answer again and again and again. The more informative the site, the more likely we are to have an equitable and fair conclusion to this public discourse. For the County, and what it wants to accomplish, the more muddy and murky the water the better. When truth shines in on a subject, the evil darkness tries to hide.

  183. butchhuber

    Happy New Year!

  184. Randall Patrick "R.P." McMurphy

    Hey Kids!
    Hope the holidays were all you needed them to be and you and your loved ones are safe and optimistic for a prosperous new year. You guys remember that time I yelled out “full disclosure!’? Well, if that bought me any credibility points, then consider this…just once, make time to attend a county commission meeting or sub-committee meeting. It is, if nothing else, entertaining. Don’t just read the minutes online…you have got to be there to get the full effect. Just imagine a bunch of paper toting redneck country bumkins that have twice the amount of BS between their ears as they do on their shoe soles thinking they know every frickin’ thing about every frickin’ thing hiding and/or pissin’ away YOUR tax money. Over the last three months now, I have been to 4 meetings and I promise you the moon the dialog is worth the time. If you go…let me know. I would love to discuss this with someone that has the same frame of reference. I gotta stack of plane tickets and reservations, time to meet for fire standard review, revision, and re-write…but I will be here and there. Be safe, be informed, and beware.

    RP

  185. Butch Huber

    There is a fire protection study final brief this afternoon at city hall at 5 p.m. The representative from the company hired by the city of Mt. Juliet to conduct an audit and to study the fire protection issue will be conducting this briefing.

  186. Chief O'Hallorhan

    you got that right RP.. very entertaining to say the least to see how clueless our elected officials are

  187. Shawn Donovan

    Unfortunately I’m on shift today and won’t be able to make the meeting. Can you give us a good report on the outcome Butch. Thanks in advance

  188. Butch Huber

    Shawn,

    The outcome was predictable. The company did a good job compiling information and provided the city with ammunition to take to the county to show them that Mt. Juliet is in fact doing more than its fair share. However, the person conducting the study suggested that the city and the county continue the current agreement and work from that agreement in order to get to a point where there is adequate protection. Fortunately, I was able to speak, so I asked the person conducting the study if that recommendation was from a “financial” perspective or a “legal” perspective. I knew it wasn’t from a legal perspective, as the county is operating its emergency services illegally, however, I wanted the commission and the press to recognize that the county and the city can’t have a legal agreement because the county’s operations are illegal.

    Our commissioners recognize that there is little to no hope of being able to work a deal with the county on this, yet they do not seem to be willing, as of yet, to take the legal route to reconcile this issue. I am perplexed as to why they won’t take the county to the mats for us, but it doesn’t seem like there are three votes to protect us. So far, Ed Hagerty, James Bradshaw, and Ted Floyd seem to be willing to tax us for services that the county is taxing us for without ensuring that the county discontinues its tax.

    They are going to ensure that each member of the county commission are provided with a copy of the reports. There appears to be some on the county commission who are determined to discontinue fire service in Mt. Juliet even though that would result in increased costs to the county.

    Meanwhile, I am working behind the scenes preparing in every way that I am able to be ready with the information needed in a lawsuit should that become necessary. I believe I have enough information at this point to clearly point out exactly how the county is operating illegal emergency services. No I have to find someone in government who actually gives a damn and who has the ability and will to do something about it. I am pretty sure that James Maness and Art Giles would vote to take the county to court, we simply need one more person. Perhaps you could work on getting James Bradshaw to see the light.

  189. Shawn Donovan

    Thanks Butch for the recap. I wouldn’t mind getting a copy myself just for entertainment..

    I’ll have to get with Jim and see what his next step is. The problem is that with him being both the City and County Commissioner I don’t see it likely that he will be on board to do such a thing. Then with the redistrict of the County Commission districts he now will become the City and County Commissioner for my neighborhood.

  190. Butch Huber

    Shawn, good luck with Jim.

  191. Butch Huber

    The county budget is finally available online. There are major issues, major, major issues! Wow!

  192. Sonny Griffin

    Publius,

    It would sure be helpful if you could publish a copy of PFM’s report on RFMJ.

    Thanks in advance.

  193. Sonny Griffin

    Wow is right.

    You weren’t kidding about the budget, Butch.

  194. Butch Huber

    In the county budget for 2011-2012, the county says that they are using wholesale beer tax, corporate income taxes, and TVA in lieu of money to pay for the county-wide fire department, just as they have since the mid-1990’s. Hello, there was a fire tax to pay for the countywide fire department starting from the mid-1990’s and continuing until 2000. The county then choose, in 1999, to use the alternate form of funding that was authorized in the amendment to the countywide fire department laws starting in the next fiscal year. That change to the Countywide Fire Department resolution was only for one year. Thereafter, each year, the county financial management committee was suppose to provide the county with its recommendation as to which form of funding it should use to cover the costs of the countywide fire department. From what it appears, the county financial management committee either never provided such recommendations thereafter or the county never voted for or against their recommendations as it does not show up in the budget for last year as a “BE IT THEREFORE FURTHER RESOLVED” section in the budget. The statement that the county has been using those three funds since the mid-1990’s in order to cover the costs of the countywide fire department is patently false. However, that isn’t the only issue with this statement. TVA in-lieu of money is not authorized as an alternative form of funding to be used to cover the costs of the countywide fire department as it is neither situs based collected only in the unincorporated portions of the county nor is it already shared with the municipalities. The share of the TVA in-lieu of money that cities receive is in-lieu of city property taxes. Therefore, the TVA money is not eligible to be used to cover the costs of the countywide fire department. That renders the county with insufficient funds available to cover the cost of the countywide fire department using alternative funding, and, as a result, the county has to levy a fire tax.

    There is more. If you look at the budget, you will see that the county only includes about $2.5 million for the costs of the countywide fire department while they say that the total budget for emergency services is over $8.8 million. They are essentially saying that all non-fire suppression costs equal $6.3 million and that fire suppression, with all its equipment and personnel and associated space necessary to house all that equipment only comes to $2.5 million. Do you believe that? I don’t.

    If a reasonable estimate of the costs of the countywide fire department were conducted, even if they could isolate out just fire suppression from the rest of the services, the true costs of the countywide fire suppression would come to more than the total amount of shared revenue the county receives combined. Who are they kidding?

    However, they cannot isolate out fire suppression alone and say that only fire suppression is a part of the countywide fire department. In fact, all non-police emergency services are part of the countywide fire department and therefore, essentially, if not actually, all emergency management costs are a part of the countywide fire department, therefore the costs are closer to $8.8 million, which means that they have to establish fire taxes because there are insufficient levels of funding available from the alternate sources to cover the costs of the county fire department.

    It is time to get this county government to recognize that it is not operating its emergency services lawfully. If they are unwilling to operate according to the law, why don’t they fling open the doors to all the jail cells at the county jail and let the prisoners free. Why should government officials have all the fun? If we are going to be breaking laws, shouldn’t we all be able to get in on the fun? I think that a lot of the members of the county commission must have caught the Linda Elam Disease that makes you say, “we can do anything we want until a judge tells us we can’t.” There is a cure for that disease, but it requires removing one from their seat and/or vice versa.

    Persistence, patience, and determination shall prevail!

  195. Randall Patrick "R.P." McMurphy

    Ok, kids…here it comes. The City of MJ has bought the land with money from the City of MJ. The City of MJ is now going to build a fire station in the City of MJ with money from the City of MJ. The City of MJ will then spend money from the City of MJ to buy mobile assets (fire truck/ambulance)for the fire station in the City of MJ. At this point, the City of MJ will spend more money from the City of MJ for personnel, payroll, and benefits for firefighters and medics to work in the fire station in the City of MJ. And when all of this is complete, and the people of Providence and points south of I-40 think their city, the City of MJ, has heard their cries and answered with a fire station for the City of MJ….the City of MJ will give all of it to the County of Wilson…and the people of the City of MJ will see their fire protection for the City of MJ spend just as much time out of the City of MJ and in the County of Wilson as it does in the City of MJ. Folks, when they put that county sticker on the side of those trucks and the uniforms of those servants, it does not matter who foots the bill, they will be used for COUNTY NEEDS just as much, if not more, than they will for the city of MJ. The County of Wilson will not acknowledge the boundaries or contributions of the City of MJ. The County of Wilson does not want this, but they will take it. The assets paid for by the City of MJ CAN and WILL be deployed as needed to Lakeview, LaGuardo, Gladeville, Lebanon, etc, etc. Book it, Dano.

    RP

  196. Chief O'Hallarhan

    You can take that check to the bank RP.. If the City signs another Interlocal agreement with WEMA that is exactly what will happen

  197. Randall Patrick "R.P." McMurphy

    You know, Chief, that interlocal agreement is about the silliest thing about this whole issue. The county is going to protect ALL of its zones. That includes Zone 3 and Zone 4 and by default…THE ENTIRE CITY OF MJ. THE COUNTY HAS TO DO THIS, AGREEMENT OR NOT!!! That interlocal agreement is a complete wates of paper, moreover, it is a smokescreen for the city leaders that have the information to make a REAL difference and are CHOOSING not to. Remember this…the ones running for re-election will use this in their campaign. They will deliver The Emperor’s New Clothes to the voters of MJ.

    RP

  198. Randall Patrick "R.P." McMurphy

    Here is an update for you, kids. This thing is growing wings instead of legs. Time is of the essence…

    This past Tuesday 2/14/2012, John Jewell, proud owner of the WEMA director’s chair through a purchase agreement with the current county mayor, was invited by the current City of MJ Mayor Haggerty to bring himself and his staff to MJ for their input on the new fire station. For reference…see above post by yours truly dated 1/26/2012. It makes perfect sense…when you build something for someone, you build them what they want. I received a call this morning that is , in essence, what Mr. Jewell stated. As was quoted to me, he was heard telling anyone that would listen that the City of MJ wanted to know what and how to build the fire station FOR WEMA. This runs contradictory to what the county mayor has stated in that the county can do no more for the City of MJ as far as fire protection. He can take your land, take your building, take your trucks, take your employees, and take your money…basically take your city fire station and use it to better protect county areas south of the interstate. This is going to look really good on his re-election signs. To recap, the county does not want to be FD of the City of MJ, the county is not set up sufficiently to be the FD of the City of MJ, the county will do NOTHING more to be the FD of the City of MJ…but it will take your new City of MJ fire station and use it for better protection of county zones. Not a bad deal, unless of course you live in the City of MJ. My suggestion, and that is all it is, you might want to ring some City of MJ Mayor and commissioners phones. I am..

    RP

    P.S. Are you guys still out there?

  199. Butch Huber

    Still here, R.P. Hasn’t been much to say that hasn’t been said at this point. We are in a bit of a wait and see pattern here now. I have prepared a rather large website with lots of information about this issue and I am putting it in a usable format. That website will become the center of a marketing campaign if necessary in order to ensure that everyone knows what the issues are and who is responsible for what has taken place. I still have lots to do to prepare it for launch, though. I am now waiting to get to a point in time where some people are forced to play their hands. I think it is counterpunch time.

  200. Randall Patrick "R.P." McMurphy

    With all due respect, shopper, you do understand that the city and the county are moving forward with action as we report. The city has bought the land and is currently asking the county how it wants the station built. You are working on the argument that the county is running the agency illegal. The city is giving the county MORE to run illegal. Again, with all due respect, what are you waiting for and what are you hoping to see. So far the info you have given the county mayor has trickled down to the WEMA finance director and he has moved headers, robbed peter to pay paul, and generally cooked the books. The illegal use of funds IS STILL TAKING PLACE, just under different ledger headings. Ed is still afraid of doing anything to the point that he will buy the county’s toys so they will play with him. The hands of which you speak are being played NOW. We need to stop them from spending our money building a huge mistake and then giving it away illegally.

    RP

  201. Butch Huber

    R.P. The reality is that you and I are not going to stop them from doing what they have in their hearts to do. Until someone is ready and willing to pony up some bucks to take them to court and challenge them, nothing is going to happen. I am still working from every conceivable angle, but no longer with sincere hope that they will turn their stiffened necks and go the right way, but rather in hopes of mounting enough evidence should a lawsuit be filed. We need a fire station, that money won’t be wasted. I don’t know that the site they selected is the best, but at least it is a site. All will not be lost even if they do go down the road they are on a little further. R.P., it may just be a briar patch that they are running into and just don’t know it. This whole thing is becoming their tar baby and they don’t realize it. Yes, what they are playing with is a house of cards, and one stiff wind can make it all come crashing down around them. Enough “Cliches” yet? How about this, “let’s give them enough rope to hang themselves with?”

    They have been warned, they can’t deny that fact. I have personally given them the information necessary for them to be able to clearly see that the county is in the wrong. Ed will have to deal with this come election time. If the voters think he has done right, then I guess we will have four more years of Ed. If they think he is providing poor leadership, well, perhaps we will have a new mayor. Same holds true for Floyd in his district race.

    What else are we going to do? The district attorney general won’t do anything. The TBI won’t do anything. The state government won’t do anything. The attorney general for the state of tennessee won’t do anything. Our City commission doesn’t seem willing to take the county to court. The County Commission and the county mayor refuse to right their ship. John Jewell isn’t going to rock the boat. The County Attorney is not going to do anything. The WEMA committee isn’t going to do anything. I’m asking you, what’s left other than suing the county? Are you ready to put your money up to do that? The best thing to do at this point is to prepare to inform the public. How? Using the internet and other marketing tactics and strategies. The media that is out there isn’t going to do anything. Really, R.P. What else can we do? I mean you no disrespect either, I am just simply out of options other than getting people all stirred up and suing. I don’t want to go there, but I am at a loss at this point as to what to do to get them to reverse course.

  202. Randall Patrick "R.P." McMurphy

    What else? They need to see our dialog here. They need to know that we know and WE WILL NOT FORGET COME ELECTION TIME. I believe the media will help. Letters to the editor will be helpful…have been in the past. If those here will write there, I believe it will be helpful. Short, respectful updates of facts. They are acting and it seems few are watching and fewer are telling. We are NOT getting a fire station…WEMA IS. That means the county is , not the city. The city of MJ is buying , building, then giving it away to, as you have pointed out, to an illegally run agency. That needs to be broadcasted and STOPPED. It is wrong and will be a problem. Now instead of having inadequate coverage with one station, we will now have inadequate coverage with two. Their prime directive will be to protect the county, they will spend up to half their time responding out of the city and in the county. The county told us NO, that is enough for me. I say tell them NO.

    RP

  203. Randall Patrick "R.P." McMurphy

    Ladies and Gentlemen,
    It is official. Mayor Hutto spoke in the EMA committee meeting Thursday night and confirmed what has been discussed here previously. The City of MJ will buy, build, stock, and supply a fully functional fire station, complete with personnel, trucks, and benefits, then GIVE it to the county to operate as THEY see fit. At present, the only fly in the ointment, the City of Lebanon. They are in full blown lock and load waiting to file suit.

    That’s the latest from the loony bin.

    RP

  204. Butch Huber

    Their entire house of cards will fall down around them if anyone or any group of people ever decides to put the money into suing them over what they are doing at the county. I find it infinitely interesting that Lebanon is ready to sue the county because they agree to take possession of a fire station, equipment, and personnel that are provided by the city of Mt. Juliet. Doesn’t that seem to suggest that Lebanon has been the issue all along?

  205. Randall Patrick "R.P." McMurphy

    Interesting angle, but I would suggest widening the view to include the county as well. Consider the close ties and history that the Lebanon city council members have with the Wilson County board members…i.e. who they are, where they live, how long have they been in office, and how many have done double duty…and you will see more influence over what has happened to the city of MJ in the past to present than has been influenced from within the laedership of MJ. Point, Wilson County, with heavy reliance on Lebanon city input, still has predominate, as well as, perceived influence over the direction of MJ. They still maintain the same air of superiority that they had back whem MJ was nothing more than a wide spot in the West Wilson Co. road. At present, we do not have anyone at the city level with the courage to challenge the county’s view…THAT NEEDS TO CHANGE.

    RP

    P.S.
    Remember this…it would not surprise me in the least if the county, after receiving the threats from Lebanon city, turns down the whole thing…buildings, trucks, personnel, etc. This would force the City of MJ into the “fire business” as brother Ted “I do not return calls from my constituents” Floyd puts it. I garantee you, if I can figure this out…so can “big boy britches” Kenny. Simply put, they will let it roll thru ema committee and the full court will stomp it flat dead. Then MJ will be sitting there with a 2000 yard stare on top of a fire station, trucks, truckies waiting to be paid, and Dwayne “I ain’t never dun the job, but I’m a glory hound so that shouldn’t matter” Hicks coming out from behind the MJ commissioners feeding his ego and completing the mushroom cloud that will be MJ emergency services. When you stop and think about it…isn’t that what you would do if you were Lebanon? Can MJ afford to serve and protect its people with this kind of start? Is this the best we have to expect? It does not have to be.

    “The duty of a patriot is to protect his country from its government”. -Thomas Paine

  206. Butch Huber

    I have become a proponent of Mt. Juliet annexing into the city all of the area of the county that it can possibly annex into it, charging them the same property tax rate that I am being forced to pay, and developing a public safety department that covers everything from police to putting granny back in bed when she falls out. I think they should charge fees for services for every service that they can charge a fee for and enforce collections on those fee. I do believe they should enforce the fees gently, but they should, nevertheless, enforce them. They should build out the buildings through a lease purchase deal, they should purchase the equipment through a lease purchase deal, and they should offset the costs of the operation as much as possible through private donations. Then the city should use the money that they collect from property taxes to sue the county until its head pops off in order to ensure that we are not being taxed twice for services we are only getting once. The legal assault should never end until the county is forced, once and for all, to stop taking our money without providing commensurate services in return. The effect would be that virtually all County Commissioners east of 109 would then be part of the city of Mt. Juliet and their constituents would be taxed twice just like we are being taxed twice. If that didn’t do it, once the city of Mt. Juliet has annexed into the city enough people to for certain make us the largest city in the county the city should then start a campaign to develop a metro government here in this county. That would make Mt. Juliet the county seat and it would almost for sure cause a major power shift in this county. The City should also sue the county to make it stop providing services to the City of Lebanon and Watertown that it doesn’t provide to us in this City. The county is so screwed up in how they are providing services they would almost have to disassemble the entire emergency services operation and rebuild from scratch. You see, even if we were to build our own services, the county is required to provide adequate emergency services to us unless the Countywide Fire Department enters into an inter-local agreement with the city for the city to provide those services itself. If the county no longer is able to fund itself using our ambulance service fees, but has to have an ambulance service available to serve those citizens who are not included inside of our city limits, the county will be incurring a tremendous loss. If the county is providing rescue services to Lebanon free of charge, it has to provide those services to us free of charge. The county really doesn’t want to stay on the road it is on, but they will do it anyway.

    R.P., I am sure that the interweaving of affairs on the county commission and the Lebanon commission is much more involved than we understand.

  207. Randall Patrick "R.P." McMurphy

    Agreed. One of the red herrings of recent is that, according to Hutto, according to Ed, MJ will do the fire ONLY in this new JV. Wilson Co. will provide ems and rescue. Now know this…there is not a FD in the country worth its salt now in the U.S. that does fire ONLY. Nowadays, it is fire AND rescue. Ed is going to end up paying FF’s to sit and wait for fire alarms and fire calls (perhaps 3-4% of their time). Not a good use for YOUR money. As far as your last sentence, perhaps, however, my last post is not a SWAG. I have a business asso. that has retired and spent the last 3.5 years staying busy being a fixture at a majority of county, leb city, and sub-committe meetings. It was a culmination of 2 phone calls and a late lunch. If this person told me to take ‘Lucky Strike’ in the third…I’d go all in.

    RP

  208. Randall Patrick "R.P." McMurphy

    I just had an apostophe! You guys remember the stink we endured when you found out about that little joint venture down in Watertown known as WEMA Station #2. To refresh, that represents the “halfsie” deal between the county and Watertown that resulted in an extremely nice public safety complex for the little wet city. Now, if I were a suing man, I would have the city of MJ and the city of Lebanon get together in a Jim Dandy of a civil suite and sue the county of Wilson back to Jurassic Park. Ain’t this a novel little nugget? A man could conceivably lose his big boy britches. Just because our WEMA county fire director AND our Wilson Co. attorney are from there should not mean that MJ and Lebanon cannot or should not get the same cherry deal. I would offer that given past precedence, MJ and Lebanon are entitled to the same deal. Your thoughts?

    RP

  209. Butch Huber

    R.P, I agree with you, but the deal should be to scale. Watertown only has 1477 people in it, Lebanon and Mt. Juliet have about 25,000, so, instead of $600,000, the number should be somewhere in the range of $11,000,000 each. Their argument is that they serve a lot of the unincorporated portions of Wilson County and therefore have “Earned” that money. Okay, Lebanon had served much of east, if not all of east, Wilson County for many many years as I understand it. Mt. Juliet covered West Wilson County from 1974 until 1986. For their eleven million dollar contribution to Mt. Juliet we could promise to provide “Fire Suppression” to west wilson county…no problem. We will give West Wilson County the “Same” level of coverage that Watertown gives to the area it provides fire suppression to in east wilson county. I think that is a great idea. That would mean we would be investing a total of 22,000,000 into our operation here. Man, what you could do with 22,000,000 dollars! Whooo hoooo! We would be among the safest cities in the world.

  210. Randall Patrick "R.P." McMurphy

    ” A little grit in the eye destroyeth the sight of the very heavens, and a little malice or envy a world of joys. One wry principle in the mind is of infinite consequence”. Thomas Traherne

    It is now and has always been about perspective…and the ripples. Creating a problem by solving a problem…well, that’s just crazy. RP

    The point you made is incredibly interesting. If you could get them to the table, you should ask them to define “alot of incorporated portions of Wilson Co.” and give me YOUR (Wilson Co. BoC) concrete number of souls it takes to quantify and qualify for the county’s benevolent actions. It is based on number of souls, right? It’s not money, land or who your brother in law is, is it?

    RP

  211. Old Blevins

    I was on my way to Knoxville for the weekend on the first Friday in March. About 30 miles out of Knoxville, on I-40, I saw a white Crown Vic in the left lane. It looked like the driver was intentionally holding up traffic (ie a ‘left lane bandit’). I imagine many thought this was a police officer.

    It wasn’t. The car had a WEMA emblem on the side and a state government green tag (I think G23something). The driver was about 50ish with short hair. I didn’t look closely because I had one chance to pass him on the right and get gone.

    Questions: What was a WEMA car doing over 100 miles from the Wilson County line on a Friday afternoon? Who was driving? And why was the guy driving like a jackass? Inquiring minds want to know.

  212. Randall Patrick "R.P." McMurphy

    Master Blevins,
    glad to see you are alive and kickin. From time to time, members of the fire service will travel thru-out the state to attend training exercises put on by different agencies. Also, the state fire school is in Bell Buckle…so you will see a number of fire dept. vehicles out on their normal jurisdictions. That being said, I can tell you I do know what a “jackass” is but I do not know what a “left lane bandit” is. I have traveled the interstates for many many years and that is the first time I have heard that term. Please explain in layman’s to the lay. As for your inquiring mind, YOU can call YOUR county fire service provider @444-8799 and inquire. YOU have that right. Take care and be safe.

    RP

  213. Old Blevins

    This vehicle looked more like a staff car than a fire service car. I’m assuming fire service Crown Vics are red, not white? They are in many places.

    A ‘left lane bandit’ is someone who usees the left lane of the interstate for a Sunday drive, thus ‘stealing’ its purpose as a passing lane. Whoever this person was, they were deliberately playing a game with and holding up traffic, creating a dangerous situation. They were traveling below the speed limit but sped up when someone tried to pass on the right. I got a good ‘hole shot’ and was able to make a safe pass.

  214. Randall Patrick "R.P." McMurphy

    O.B. sir,
    unless they have bought something recently that is different, all WEMA admin wheels are white…from the leadership suv’s to the ” hand me down wore out white paint chippin crown vics” they get from Uncle Terry and the sheriff’s office. At least, that’s the way it was back in Jan. As far as some yahoo screwin’ around in the “hammer lane” (10-4 good buddy) YOU have the right to do something about that…use that number if you want. Have a good one.

    RP

  215. Randall Patrick "R.P." McMurphy

    Good Morning!
    From the most recent Wilson A.M. brought to you by the fine folks at The Tennessean…
    Front Page
    “I think both groups want to do what’s best for everybody”. Randall Hutto

    It’s gonna take all day to get that FLUFF out of my butt……really?
    Remember you heard it here first. MJ ‘s gonna buy it and then give it to the madman to run it…poorly, I predict. You fine folks in Providence and Dell Webb are gonna see a brand new fire station with fire trucks driving right out of the city to the county where they are needed. Whoever calls first gets the new ride. Whoever calls next…well, you get what you got now. Huge improvement, huh?

    “”Whatever the final proposal looks like, we’ve got nowhere to go but up”, said James Maness. OMGOMGOMGOMG! Somebody needs to check the air quality at city hall. Sounds like oxygen difficiency.

    Who do these leaders think they are talking to? Do they think we are a bunch of 8 year olds? This is why you candidates WILL GIVE YOUR PLAN!!! If not, then you will see the light. You want the votes, I want the plan. And before you go there, yes I got more than one vote.

    RP

  216. Randall Patrick "R.P." McMurphy

    Leaders of the City of Mount Juliet,
    You might want to read this before you go and take someone’s advice and JUST put 2 on a fire truck….29 CRF 1910.134 section (g) paragraph (4). It is the LAW, not a recommendation, suggestion, or advice…IT IS THE LAW. If you break it, OHSA will know. That will be the easy part. You need better intel.
    Tax-Paying Citizens of the City of Mount Juliet,
    Your money is being wasted on a protection plan that will not work. Call your rep.
    County Leaders,
    Take a good look at this plan. The county is still going to have to respond to every fire and rescue…this is going to be expensive for the county. The “big boy britches brigade” might want to ask around. If I were you, I’d squash it like a grape.

    RP

  217. Randall Patrick "R.P." McMurphy

    Hey Guys!
    Guess who just figured out they did not buy enough land? They don’t even know how big to make the parking lot. They are wasting their time badgering the county for advice, not to mention the WAY WRONG players. It is on the scale of having the “Skipper” of the S.S. Minnow ask directions from the Captain of the Titanic. BOTH ARE DOOMED. ..and no body gets where they need to be.

    City Leaders,
    I know for a fact that Pat O’Brien (LFD)has tried to reach out to you and offer his 40 experience to you at no charge. He has lived here all of his life, was one of the first MJ volunteers, and is one of the most respected men in the city and county. And you are listening to a xxl wannabe in a homemade red fire polo that has NEVER DONE THE JOB. Very soon this is gonna go public.

    RP

  218. Southside

    RP.. take a look at the XXL wannabe in a homemade red fire polo website and play particular attention to his bio… hmmmmm fire experience, fire experience, fire experience… nope, unless you consider someone who can read a fire code fire experience…

    So this is who our elected officials are taking advice in fire protection from????

    http://dwaynehicks.com/index-meetdwayne.html

  219. Southside

    Well Mr. XXL since I’m sure you or someone you know reads this blog. If you do have fire experience and all of us who only see you as a code official are wrong.. by all means state your case for the members of the fire service industry who are following this issue.

  220. Randall Patrick "R.P." McMurphy

    Southside,
    Aw, go easy on the boy. I did see where the State Fire Marshal set him up as Potentate for Double-wides…that ought to account for something. If he has firefighting experience, I assure you, I will be the first one to take a big bite of crow pie. But in the position he holds and the contributions he is making…teaching building codes ain’t gonna cut it. He is positioning himself for the job of fire chief…and that is going to make a bad program worse. Believe me, it is better to have NO fire department than a bad fire department…especially one that is led by a pretender with no OTJ experience.

    RP

  221. Butch Huber

    I sent to the city commission a solution to the fire protection questions. It seems that the city is reticent to sue the county, so, instead, why not seek declarative judgement from C.K. Smith? He is, after all, the judge that told the county that they had to establish fire taxes and levy them. The city can hire an attorney to draft a writ for declarative judgement asking the judge what he thinks the laws say in regard to how a county may or may not run a fire department and whether or not an emergency management agency can run a countywide fire department and regarding how the fire department is funded. This wouldn’t be a lawsuit against the county, it would be the city asking the judge his opinion of what the law says. The county would have the opportunity to try to file friends of the court briefs, but, if the questions were crafted properly, the county wouldn’t be a defendant and therefore couldn’t mount a defense, all they could do is request the judge hear their input. This would give the city a much more sound position to negotiate from and it would give them clarity. I volunteered to help the attorney make sense of it all, which would save the city a lot of money. I wonder if they will pay it any attention?

  222. Randall Patrick "R.P." McMurphy

    The results of such a document would be a “spark in the dark” and would clearly show the changes that need to made at the county and city level for adequate protection thru proper funding. My hope is that the city does not continue with its current M.O. and go to the county for advice, assistance, and aid. Kinda like asking a perpetrator if he wants to go public and legit.

    RP

    “Action springs not from thought, but from a readiness for responsibility.”
    Dietrich Bonhoeffer

  223. Butch Huber

    No answer. I sent them a perfectly good option through which they can get answers as to what is and is not legal, but they won’t answer. They really don’t want to settle this issue, they want to kick the can down the street. How many damned years do they need to settle one issue? This has been a smoldering topic for many years, yet nothing of substance is ever done about it. If they gave me the gavel and made me king of Mt. Juliet I could settle this issue in no time.

    The county isn’t operating legally. All they have to do is make sure that everyone knows that the county is unlawfully providing emergency services and force the county to correct its way under threats and intimidate of lawsuit and public embarrassment and the problem is settled. It only has to be a credible threat.

    Taking this to the judge for declaratory judgement action provides a clear blueprint for moving forward. Why wouldn’t they want that?

  224. Randall Patrick "R.P." McMurphy

    Why? They have become complacent with their fear and lack of knowledge. Eight plus year with this issue and all they have done is buy 2 acres and realize they should have bought 4. When will they listen? …When they are out of the game and sitting at home.

    Complacent: contented to a FAULT, self satisfied and unaware of an immediate and credible danger or deficiency.

    RP

  225. Butch Huber

    R.P., it’s actually worse that that, they are chasing the wrong issue. Wilson County is now legally and official out of their deal with the city. They terminated the interlocal agreement between the parties. Regardless of whether or not they had to give a year’s notice of termination or not, they are now, I believe, beyond the one year mark since termination, therefore they are no longer under any sort of interlocal agreement between the parties.

    Okay, what does that mean in practical terms?

    1) The ambulance service provided in this county is either a) provided under the countywide fire department, and therefore its costs are associated with the operation of a countywide fire department or, b) provided pursuant to T.C.A. §§ 7-61-101–7-61-104.

    The county charges a fee for service for ambulance service. It must have legislative and statutory authorization to charge fees for ambulance service. There are only two provisions under which the county may do so, those provisions are under the countywide fire department statutes (which is debatable) or under the ambulance service statutes. Either way, the county must have an interlocal agreement to provide ambulance service to the city as an “ambulance service” “or” it must fund that service under the countywide fire department statutes, which it isn’t doing at this point in time. Either way, the county is obviously unlawfully providing ambulance service inside this city at this very moment. (I am not able to remember exactly when they canceled the interlocal agreement, but from that date, one year hence, the interlocal agreement is terminated, therefore they are, or will be, illegal).

    Ambulance, not fire suppression, is the real issue in this city. The county is trying hard to force this city to help it fund the costs of providing adequate services to the unincorporated portions of the county, and the city should fold its arms (if they are too chicken to fight) and leave this all wrapped right around the county’s necks. They are so illegal in what they are doing they will never get out of it. Every time a truck rolls in this city it is doing so illegally.

    The entire emergency service operations in this city are illegal. The county is funding the operations supposedly through alternative forms of funding, which means that they can’t use those funds to pay for our services. Every penny spent by the county to provide service to the city would be unlawful under this scenario. Regardless of what type of service is being offered, it is illegal.

    If they had the gumption to actually ask the Judge to provide a judgement on whether or not the county can do what it is doing they would have a full quiver for their negotiating partners to wear to the table and the county’s quiver would be completely empty. That’s the kind of negotiating table I like to sit at, when I am the one with the full quiver anyway. I have the resolve to make a good and equitable deal in all situations, even when the other person is over a barrel. Given those circumstances, and given the chance to negotiated on behalf of the city, I could come out of that room with a deal we could all live with and that would be legal. I am not so sure they have that skill level.

  226. Randall Patrick "R.P." McMurphy

    You are absolutely right, Butch. As far as the interlocal agreement, I have said it before and will say it again…that is the silliest, most useless document related to this issue. It ain’t worth the paper its on. The mission of WEMA is to provide fire/ems/etc to the COUNTY. MJ is in the COUNTY. Station 3 is NOT THE MJ CITY STATION, it is the COUNTY STATION FOR ZONE #3 of which 88% +/- of the city is located. MJ CITY CITIZENS are also WILSON COUNTY CITIZENS and are entitled to COUNTY services. You are right, the agreement has dissolved and NOT ONE THING HAS CHANGED. Not even an inter office memo. And if nothing is ever said again about fire/ems/etc. , you can believe nothing will ever be done or changed. What is the motivation, what is the driver??? The citizens need to know just how thin the protection really is. Just as important as that, they also need to know the legal skirting and funding discrepancy you have brought to light.

    Being good is commendable, but only when it is combined with doing good is it useful. Author Unknown

    RP

  227. Randall Patrick "R.P." McMurphy

    Made a call this afternoon and caught wind of a whisper. The county wanted the interlocal agreement to expire so they could claim that they are now NOT providing emergency service to the CITY OF MJ thru any agreement…they are now simply providing services to zone 3 just as they are the other county zones. The same for all regardless of incorporated area or not. This is their version of making it legal. I do not think for one minute that it does, but remember who we are dealing with…it don’t have to be right, it just has to look like it can be argued that it is. Unsure if the county let the city in on this approach. Probably did or you would have heard the squeeling start when the teet was jerked out of their mouth. BTW, do you know the verbage used in the interlocal agreement? Was there ever any mention of zones specific? The reason I bring it up is that part of the City of MJ lies in zone 4(Lakeview).. Curious if that were ever mentioned in the agreement or not. Anyway, one thing is sure…this agreement expired by design.

    Enjoy.
    RP

  228. Butch Huber

    Thanks for the video, R.P.

    No, that configuration is not legal either. If evidence of this plan were to surface it would provide proof that the County is blatantly violating the will and intent of the General Assembly. The General Assembly clearly constructed the fire protection and emergency services plans so that counties would have to observe the sovereignty and territorial boundaries of the municipalities. Cities do not get their right to exist from the county, they get their right to exist from the state. Counties are obligated to take over the debts and operations inside of an incorporated municipality if the municipality goes bankrupt, and counties have obligations inside of the territorial boundaries of a city, even in regard to emergency services, however, the county has to observe the authority and power of that municipality.

    The countywide fire department statutes spells out what the county can and can’t do in this regard. The county must, if it establishes a fire department, provide fire protection services, as enumerated and contained in T.C.A. 5-17-102, both inside and outside the municipal boundaries of any city in the county, however, if they use situs based taxes or other sources of revenue that have already been shared with the municipalities they have to have an interlocal agreement regarding how they are going to be compensated for the provision of services inside of each city or, in the event that the city will not enter into an interlocal agreement with the county, the county must charge the citizens of the city directly if they provide services to them or they can have a subscription service operation inside the city, regardless, they can’t use money that is intended for the use of those who live inside the unincorporated portions of the county to provide services inside a city. In this new scheme (If the county could actually pay for the operations using the alternate form of funding, which it can’t) is taking money from those who live in the county and giving it to those who live in the cities. That would be just as wrong as taking money from us and using it to provide services to those who live in the county. Wrong is wrong.

    Reality is, though, they are using property taxes to pay for those services, which leads back to the, “We provide everything to everyone the same” exhortation. They know that they can’t have 4 people in a station that covers upward of 35,000 people and 4 people in a station that covers 5,000 people and consider that “the same”, but that is how they twist it in their minds. I don’t know how they sleep at night.

    Stations 3 and 4 cover a combined nearly 75,000 people. There are a total of 8 people in those two stations. That leaves 19 people to cover roughly 45,000 to 55,000 people in the rest of the county. Somehow, I just can’t seem to buy into their ideal that we cover everyone “the same”.

  229. Randall Patrick "R.P." McMurphy

    Bingo, that is so right. Hutto and the county are ignoring demographics, number of souls, etc and simply figuring on square miles (…and whatever Watertown wants) How do they sleep at night? Easy, they think they know all they need to know…even the ones who just got here in the last couple of years…county and city…they are convinced that they now have ALL the knowledge. They think that “title” of commissioner makes them the all-knowing OZ of the issue. Arrogance has replaced intelligence. But you are right, look at the template of the satellite stations… one building, 2 trucks, 4 personnel…all the same strategically place by square miles NOT number of souls. THE CURRENT MEMBERS OF THE CITY AND THE COUNTY ARE WRONG.

    RP

  230. Butch Huber

    I wrote an email to the commission today suggesting that they annex the rest of our urban growth boundary into the city. That would cause those who live in the current unincorporated portions of the county to have to assist in paying for any build out of our emergency services platform. It would also bring more of the county commissioners into the city limits. Their houses would then be served by our emergency services rather than the counties. That would give them ample incentive to make sure that they fight hard to get thing set right. They won’t want to pay twice for services that they only receive once.

    I then suggested that, instead of building a fire station in Providence, they put an ambulance and a rescue truck there. I suggested that they only build a building big enough to house those to items, but make it so that the building could be built onto when a fire station there is constructed. I told them to set up a lease purchase arrangement on the building and two ambulances and two rescue trucks, one of each in station 3 and one of each in the new building. They should then kick the county out except for fire suppression, which they should insist that the county continue to provide in accordance with the law, as the county is required to provide fire suppression to the city.

    The city should charge fees for services for rescue and for ambulance and those fees should be sufficient to fully capitalize the city emergency services operations. Any questions about fire suppression should be rerouted to the county because that is their baby.

    The county would lose a huge amount of money and they would not have any decrease in costs. To add insult to injury, the city could tell the county that they need to resume payment for use of our space for fire suppression, but that the rent would climb to $60,000 per year, or the county could build a new fire station on our land in providence and we would be willing to give them a long-term lease. If they build the building, they can continue to use our fire station for $1 per year. If they pay the $60,000 per year we could use that money to pay for the fire station in providence. If the refuse to provide service we can take them to a hearing through the uniform administrative procedures act which means it is out of this county and downtown, which avoids having to go before a county judge.

    This all means that the county loses and loses and loses. Their costs go up and not down, and their income goes down and not up. Then, for the final revenge blow, do away with the property tax! For the county, this would be like kissing a porcupine, all you come back with is a face full of quills. Once the county figures out what the city is doing they would have no choice but to come back to the table and act right. If they didn’t, we could continue to pound on them until we get a fair deal by bringing charges against them under the fourteenth amendment.

  231. Randall Patrick "R.P." McMurphy

    Excellent move, will be interesting to see how they ignore it. IF THEY WOULD ONLY LISTEN…JUST LISTEN. Brother Butch, you do realize that what you have so brilliantly suggested is in fact the exact polar opposite of one of their current plans? They want the city to do fire only (complete waste of money, assets, time, breath, etc.) and keep the county doing all other facets of the service. What the county needs to realize is that with that plan the only difference is that now there is an extra truck at scenes for fire ONLY, not rescue. Did I mention this was a complete waste of money, assets, time, breath, etc.? What you have done is offer a daring knight to queen 7…What they will do is look at it like the RCA Victor dog. It is very sad when the best thing you can do is NOTHING…because everything you do out of ignorance born of arrogance is WRONG, WRONG, WRONG.

    RP

  232. The Outsider

    Sounds like all very good reasons for the future of this issue. From what has continued to happen is a total disregard by the ones who are elected to work with the citizens on this issue. So that being said I think we should just clean house meaning saying goodbye to Haggerty and Giles in November, Floyd is already gone. In 2014, we then give one term walking papers to Manness and retire Bradshaw. This 5 have done NOTHING with this issue except work to build a fire station with no plan in place.

    From what your describing Butch are you saying we should create and ambulance and rescue squad in Mt. Juliet and leave the fire to them?

  233. Butch Huber

    Well, actually, Outsider, what I am suggesting is that we checkmate the county. The county derives perhaps as much as a million dollars of their emergency services budget from ambulance services in this city. It may be less, but I doubt it. They would immediately lose as much as $1,000,000 from their budget, but it wouldn’t cost us a penny in end terms because the fees for services would cover our costs. The county doesn’t charge for rescue operations, but if we had our own rescue vehicle we could provide rescue operations inside this city and we could charge for it. What we had would not be considered a “fire department” as defined in Tennessee Code because ambulance services are not included in that definition and rescue squads that don’t also perform fire suppression are not included. Therefore the county couldn’t take the position (legally) that we have our own fire department and therefore they are not responsible for providing fire. The fees for rescue service would be put with the costs of ambulance services fees to pay for the costs of the operations. In the end, our net cost is zero, we address the real issues in this city, we reduce the property tax back to zero (which is what this was all about all along), the county still has to provide fire protection services in this city per state law (because they have a countywide fire department), they have to get out of our building or pay a serious rent for occupying our space, and they end up with exactly the opposite of what they wanted in the first place. We force those who live inside the unincorporated portions of the county to help pay for the upfront costs of our operations, and we bring those county commissioners who are outside of mt juliet into the city. The city representation on the county commission then becomes stronger. Our basis for wanting to incorporate more of the county into our growth area grows stronger. The population of the city swells giving us more power and making us the largest city in the county. We use the money that we are bringing in from property taxes, until we reset them to zero, to take the county to court again and again if necessary to force them to do what is right. The county can’t win this, they don’t have the resources to fight us. They will have no choice but to sit down at the table and negotiate with us. They lose on every front. This would be something that sets the county agenda back decades.

  234. Pop Korn

    Outsider, sometimes the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t. Anyone who thinks putting Britt Linville into the D3 seat will solve the fire issue is smoking something I can’t afford.

  235. Doc Cider

    Butch, everyone in Mt. Juliet owes you their gratitude whether they know it or not. Outsider, whatever you think of the current city commission, it’s light years better than it was two years ago, just with Elam’s departure and Giles’ arrival. And the candidates looking at replacing them are for the most part well-known entities with less than sterling credentials. There is room for improvement in D1 and D4 and that will happen sooner in one case and later in the other. But we don’t want to throw out honesty and experience and replace it with incompetence and good-ole-boyism if we want to get things done.

  236. Doc Cider

    In my comments above, I certainly was NOT referring negatively to Mr. Luffman, who I think is a good candidate and certainly knowledgeable on fire issues. I also think Ed Hagerty is a good candidate. The level of honesty and professionalism in the Mayor’s seat improved markedly when he took over.

    And Ted did the right thing by retiring. He sold his soul to the devil (Elam) to try to get to play Mayor for awhile and this damaged his good name.

  237. Butch Huber

    I agree with both of you in terms of the commission. This commission has been a lot better in terms of civility and following the law and in terms of not creating embarrassment to the citizens, however, they are not accomplishing anything. If they aren’t going to accomplish anything then perhaps it is time to replace them, even though I like most of them. Floyd will be gone, and, unless Jonathan or another candidate makes a strong showing, we will have Ray Justice back in office. If it were not for the bad things that Ray was involved with when he was in office, I would not have a problem with Ray being in office as, in a lot of cases, he had a better idea of what needed to be done than many of the others (thought I wonder if those were his ideas or someone at the county telling him what to think). Art Giles seems to be a good guy, but he seems to be more of a follower than a leader. This commission only really needs to have one really strong leader and it will do good work, but someone has to really lead this commission, and that doesn’t seem to be happening.

    Doc Cider, I appreciate your recognition, I just wish the Commission would open up and let me help them, even if it were from behind the scenes. I don’t need credit, I simply need good government. They can take the spotlight, I don’t want it nor do I need it, I simply want to see them get things right so we can focus on things that move us forward as a city and a county. We deserve better than this.

  238. The Outsider

    Doc.

    You do make sense regarding knowing what you have with the current commission but like Butch mentions we want action not talk. All we get when it comes to the current commission is a lot of talk and no action when it comes to hard decisions. This commission would rather sit back and watch paint dry then actually lead this community

    Having a city commissioner who is nice is fine, but if I elect you to the commission I want you to stand up and work hard for whats right and give the citizens something back for shopping here and paying a property tax. Showing up to a ribbon cutting with a big smile and talk about how great a community event was is not being a commissioner its being a well involved citizen who have a microphone in front of them two monday’s a month.

  239. Doc Cider

    I’m not defending what seems to be a lack of positive action on the fire issue. To say nothing is being done really only fits that issue though.

    If you look at where the worst problems are, D1 and D4, change WILL happen this year in the former and change WON’T happen this year in the latter. That leaves the mayor’s race and D3. We know who is contesting the races and in D3 we are basically looking at a step backwards going with the challenger. I think in the mayor’s race both candidates have plusses and in D1 whatever we get will hopefully be an improvement.

  240. The Outsider

    Good point Doc

  241. Contributors,
    My name is Jamie Luffman as many of you know and I have been asked to participate in the upcoming election for the office of Mayor of the City of mt. Juliet. After much prayful consideration and consulting with my family, I have decided to accept this opportunity. I have been in public service for some time providing aid to a few people at at time. This endeavour will allow me to work diligently and honorably to accelerate and enrich issues for the citizens of this city…a city I love, grew up with, and made the decision to stay and raise my family in. This is your home and mine, I am humbled for this cause.
    The call for a plan for fire protection, emergency services, life safety/loss prevention, etc. is obviously very important as mentioned in your posts. Simply stated, my plan is this: Pause our current actions until we have an informed direction to continue and only 1 working definition of this issue. My intent is to form a consortium of fire fighting professionals at different stages in their careers from different departments with various areas of expertise. there are 5 that I have been in contact with having a combined 186 years of service and experience. Added to this group, I will ask a man who has tirelessly created a detailed financial plan complete with costs and funding information. Also, I will ask a man (last name rhymes with HUBER) to contribute his selfless and paramount findings of research and legal ramifications. The ex-officio chair of this group will be the man that bought the first fire truck for the City of Mt. Juliet. I believe he should also buy the last, or latest. Others can and will be asked to contribute, comment, and attend. The mission of this consortium will be to form 2 plans for the future of fire/ems/ rescue for the City of Mt. Juliet…one that includes the county and one that does not. If God blesses me with this office for His glory, then I will chair this group and will have every confidence that the efforts of this group will result in one of these 2 solutions being custom made for the citizen’s protection and safety…and be successful from day one. I believe in this group with all my heart. I am nearing 20 years in the fire service, I DO NOT HAVE ALL THE ANSWERS…but this group does. It is wisdom that leads me to form this group, not weakness. When the information is complete, it will be disseminated to the citizens in layman’s terms and they will be given time to understand and absorb it. Then, by referendum or some electronic response system, they will be asked to answer 2 questions:
    1. Are you satisfied with the current level of life safety/loss prevention efforts afforded to you now?
    2. If no, do you want an offering of life safety/loss prevention services that is custom, sustainable, and adequate?
    At that point, the group will offer one of the 2 plans that is right, custom, legal, and affordable.
    This is a marquee issue, but as I have stated, it is not the only issue. For the others I will utilize my 47 years of experience living in this city and watching it grow. I will continue to call upon civic minded individuals and groups to contribute. Issues such as infrastructure improvements, community center development, protecting and promoting our growth, keeping our money HERE, and last but not least, individual citizen needs and concerns. If this sounds like something you want or want to be a part of, then I humbly and ever so respectfully ask for your vote. I pledge my best efforts of representing you with a servant’s heart and as a Christian man of faith. May the Living God who sits on the throne of grace, mercy, and love bless each of you and your families as well as ALL citizens of the City of Mt. Juliet. Thank you for your time.

    Sincerely,
    In His service and yours,

    Jamie Luffman
    luffman4mjmayor@tds.net
    facebook: Jill King Luffman fanpage: Luffman 4 MJ Mayor
    615-566-7571

    P.S. Thank you to those who have expressed the kindest of words.
    P.S.S. No worries, Doc Cider, I consider you a great patriot.

  242. Randall Patrick "R.P." McMurphy

    Not bad Kid, compared to what we have had in the past, that is a plan. Be sure to leave room for the tweeks andcompromises. Call the guy I told you about…I got your message and yes use the cell number Wednesday after 2:30pm. I am pickin’ it GREEN for a long weekend to visit the grandkids. Aloha!!!

    RP

  243. Butch Huber

    Jamie, thanks for running. I think you will do a fine job. Anything I can do for you just let me know. What I can do for you I will do. I wish you the best. A thought…be ready with good answers on the other issues we face. They don’t have much in the pipeline, so the next person in the hot seat has a lot of work to do. Prepare a vision for this city that is overarching and that has sound basis and meaning in every area. We have some real problems coming down the pike that need to be addressed “before” they are real problems in the here and now. Roads. Infrastructure. Growth Boundaries. Traffic. A police barracks. A new city hall. Growth control and management now and in the future. It is likely that the economy will break during the next term of mayor. That mayor has to be ready and not fall asleep at the switch. The mayor seems to set the tone of everything. If the mayor has a good head on his or her shoulders and is active and proactive and has vision he or she can lead this city on to better things. If the mayor is lazy, nothing gets accomplished. If the mayor is evil, they get promoted to state representative…oh, now I have strayed.

  244. Pop Korn

    They get promoted to State Rep for two years.

  245. Butch Huber

    Amen!

  246. Randall Patrick "R.P." McMurphy

    Brother Butch,
    you are incorrigible! I bet people in your circle greatly underestimate your sense of humor. I am gonna print that one off. “If the mayor…” that’s funny, I give you props. Have a good day.

    RP

    Sad News: Andy Griffith has past. Feel like I lost family.

  247. Jonathan Brydalski

    Butch,
    How do we compare for fire safety compared to other counties with similar populations, such as Washington, Blount, and Sullivan? Are they better equipped than we are or perhaps in the same boat? Just to campare and contrast, it would be interesting to see how they deal with this issue.

  248. Butch Huber

    Jonathan, that isn’t the direction you want to go with this, trust me. Our system is grossly inadequate, but it is better than most other counties in the state. The State of Tennessee needs to enact legislation that would ensure that all counties in the state, over a ten year period, enhance the level of emergency service capability dramatically.

    At the city level and at the county level is where we need to stay. You lose this deal if you start drawing comparisons to other counties. Even if the referenced county is in much better shape, all they will do is point to the 90 counties who have it worse. We are the second most affluent county in the entire state, we should be able to make our emergency services operations the best in the entire state.

    Residents of Mt. Juliet just got hit with a 20 cent property tax in order to enhance services in Mt. Juliet. That is going to raise somewhere around $1.3 million or so per year as I recall. Lebanon spends $3 million per year on its operations. Wilson County spends about $8.6 million per year. I have no idea what Watertown is spending, but I doubt it is much considering the size of their city (They are, however, spending our money because the county gives it to them).

    Inside this county we are now at least collecting in the neighborhood of $13 million on emergency services. If the county were to do things equitably and fairly, it would simply establish fire taxes, so those in the unincorporated areas of the county paid the full costs of providing themselves with emergency service protection, and so that those who live inside incorporated cities in the county pay for their own protection.

    Cities can then opt into fire districts under contract with the county pursuant to T.C.A. §§5-17-101–5-17-108, or they can enter into interlocal agreements between the parties pursuant to T.C.A.§12-9.

    If the cities in this county and the county government want to actually work together to enhance services for everyone, we could work out a plan that would dramatically increase the level of services we have and we could become a model county. If the four entities would actually just sit down at the table and work together and hammer out a deal, we could approach the State and the Federal Governments for grants that are intended to help foster in better services and produce a model operation.

    We aren’t immune from man-made disaster, intended and unintentional, and we are certainly not immune from disasters of nature, we need to have a proper level of protection in this county. Between police and emergency services, proper roads, and other infrastructure, we can develop this county and the cities contained within so that we are ripe for growth when the economy spins the other way and so that we have something to offer for those who are still growing despite the economy.

    Instead of playing this neat little mexican stand-off game, the parties should all be sitting down at the table and working to hammer out something that everyone can live with. The county is looking for an all or nothing solution. That isn’t going to work. The city isn’t willing to take it to the mats. That isn’t going to work. The county is intransigent and intractable as far as this city is concerned, and our leaders in this city are absolutely unwilling to take the county to court.

    If you are going to be successful in your bid, in my opinion, you have to focus at the heart of the problem. You have to say, “I am not willing to settle for status quo. I am not willing to sit back and do nothing while we continue to have inadequate service in this city in terms of emergency service provision is concerned. I am willing to sit down with the county and other cities in this county and work out a plan, but in the absence of reasonable counterparts, I am willing to take this to the mats if necessary. There are so many violations of the law regarding the way that the county is handling its emergency services operations that have to be dealt with, and nobody seems to be willing to address them. Meanwhile we, the citizens of this city, are settling for much less than we deserve and much less than what we are paying for, I for one will not accept that situation. I intend to use whatever power and ability I have to influence and force change.”

    Anyone hoping to rectify this situation cannot leave the tool of the court system out of their tool box. For as long as the county feels that this city will not take this to the courts, and for as long as they feel that citizens will not take them to court, they will continue this scharde that we we are the ones at fault.

    Jonathan, you have to have a very strong and thorough working knowledge of the issues and understand how exactly the county is breaking the law in this regard. I am telling you, what the county has created is a system that provides some of the best emergency service operations in this state (Perhaps not the best, but among the best), while at the same time breaking law after law after law and while at the same time sticking it to those who live in Mt. Juliet. Lebanon citizens have it even worse in terms of dollars spent, but then again, they are asking for it, we aren’t.

    There are less than 30,000 citizens in Lebanon yet they are spending over $3,000,000 per year on fire suppression. They also are in the exact same boat with the county as we are in terms of the county charging them for the emergency services that the county provides. So Lebanon is paying what we pay plus they are paying another $100 per citizen for their city fire department. That said, the county provides them with about 60% more service than they provide to us also, so it somewhat offsets for them.

    The sad thing about the entire thing is if the county would simply enact fire districts and do fair and proper accounting, we could all work together and resolve this issue and we would have emergency services operations that were the envy of the state. Instead, they want to cause problems. Jonathan, this isn’t a city problem, this is a county problem.

    The city should immediately put its own ambulance and rescue squads together as I stated in an earlier post. That would immediately let the air out of what the county is doing. The threat of doing that would put the county in a place where it has to deal with the city.

    The city should put together a fundraising campaign to raise money to purchase equipment and outfit responders.

    There is so much that this city could be doing right now that it isn’t doing and it isn’t doing them because those who are the commission are not taking an aggressive approach to the issue. For years all they have done is sit back and do nothing to resolve this issue.

  249. Randall Patrick "R.P." McMurphy

    Butch,
    Kudos and Dittos. JB, go back and read as much as you can and this post. I would even suggest going back to the “old” dicussion pages. Butch, is right…the direction you are taking CAN and WILL be turned on you. This is an Wilson County and MJ City thing ONLY. That “let’s do it like ‘such and such’ does it” approach will sink before it floats. That’ s the garantee from ole RP.

    RP

  250. Butch Huber

    For those who are just tuning in, or who missed some of what I have previously posted, I want to hand to you the knowledge that proves that the county is illegally operating emergency services in this county. If you read this post, and believe what I am telling you to be true, then you can’t come away believing anything other than that the county is operating illegally.

    The County is asserting that the only thing included in the “Countywide Fire Department” is fire suppression. It claims that all other emergency services are being provided by the Wilson County Emergency Management Agency (WEMA).

    If you read the civil defense laws, which is where WEMA gets its right to exist, you will see that there are two things that are necessary for WEMA to provide active assistance to anyone in an actual emergency. There has to be the presence or threat of disaster of unprecedented size and destructiveness, and there has to be a declared state of emergency. Both have to exist. If they don’t both exist, WEMA isn’t statutorily authorized to put a bandaid on wound on your pinky finger.

    My assertion here is backed up by an Attorney General’s Opinion which can be found in General Attorney’s Opinion U92-134.

    The county is funding WEMA with $5,759,856 this past year. In previous years, Wilson County has been funding WEMA with over $7 million per year. Over the past three years, WEMA has received in excess of $20 million.

    What is WEMA authorized to do with its money? It is authorized to purchase equipment, build buildings, hire and staff personnel, purchase materials and supplies, conduct training, and a whole host of other things, but what it isn’t authorized to do, and this is the most important point, is it isn’t authorized to provide any, and I mean “ANY”, active emergency service response until and unless there is a declared state of emergency “AND” the presence or threat of an actual disaster of unprecedented size and destructiveness.

    Every time a WEMA truck rolls while providing active regular emergency services, a prorated amount of the expenses of WEMA’s operation, based on nationally recognized accounting practices, must be attributed to some other agency other than WEMA. The distributive cost associated with that response cannot be borne out of WEMA’s budget.

    The county is only authorized to do those things that the General Assembly of the State of Tennessee authorizes it to do through statute or that is necessarily implied by the sections of a statute. (See Bayless vs Knoxville.) If the county does not have an agency that is authorized to provide regular emergency services, then the county cannot legally provide those services. That is cut and dry. The county established the Wilson County Fire Department in 1995 through the approval by the County Commission of County Resolution R95-5-4. This set up the only government agency in Wilson County that authorizes the County to provide active, regular emergency services in this county.

    There are no transfers of funds from the Countywide Fire Department budget to the Civil Defense Fund, which is the fund that finances WEMA’s operations. If the personnel working for WEMA are providing regular emergency services, then there has to be a transfer of funds from the Countywide Fire Department to WEMA in order for WEMA to cover its cost of operations while performing regular emergency services. In reality, this isn’t even authorized, because there is no authority for a WEMA employee to provide such services. You see, the county has it backward. The Countywide Fire Department employees can provide emergency services under the Civil Defense Statutes during times when WEMA is authorized under state statute to provide such services, but WEMA employees are never, ever, never ever ever authorized to provide regular emergency service operations.

    The entire construction of our emergency services apparatus in this county is bassakwards.

    So far, you have learned that WEMA is never, ever authorized to provide regular emergency services operations. It is authorized to do all things necessary and proper to prepare to provide emergency services and mitigate disasters of unprecedented size and destructiveness if and when there is a presence or actual threat of a disaster of unprecedented size and destructiveness “AND” when there is a state of emergency declared. Just so that you know, during a state of emergency, most, if not all, of your constitutionally guaranteed rights are considered by the government to be null and void and of no effect. If you want to decide that the county has the right to provide regular emergency services through WEMA, you necessarily also have to agree that it is okay that every time a WEMA truck rolls your constitutionally guaranteed natural rights are suspended. I don’t think that is what you want, and I know that isn’t what the General Assembly intended.

    So, what, effectively, does all that mean? It means that the costs of all active regular emergency services have to be borne by and paid through the Countywide Fire Department. That means the vast majority of the $5,759,856 that the county is appropriating to WEMA must be re-appropriated to the Countywide Fire Department. The county can legally fund WEMA with as much as it wants provided the funding is not used to provide any regular emergency response, including even bandaging a small child’s skinned knee.

    The next unlawful thing we need to address is how the county delegated the operation of the Countywide Fire Department to WEMA. WEMA may only do those things that it is statutorily authorized to do or that are necessarily implied by the sections of a statute. I have read the civil defense statutes quite thoroughly and I cannot find anywhere within them any authorization for the EMA’s (which is what WEMA is) to manage, operate, control or maintain a Countywide Fire Department. The Countywide Fire Department Statute §5-17-101 authorizes the county to delegate the operation of the Countywide Fire Department to another existing agency within the county, however, that agency also has to be authorized by statute to accept those responsibilities, and WEMA is not that Agency. That means that the portion of the Countywide Fire Department resolution, County Resolution R95-5-4, is null and void and of no effect or it means that the entire resolution is null and void and of no effect.

    For the sake of argument, I am going to assume that the only thing that is null and void and of no effect is the portion of the resolution R95-5-4 that delegates the countywide fire department to WEMA. That means that, when the people who are pulling dual duty as both employees of WEMA and Employees of the County Wide Fire Department are at work, their cost of employment must be distributed to commonly accepted accounting principles between their time serving WEMA and their time in active response and inactive response for the Countywide Fire Department. While engaged in active response, the entire amount of their pay must be attributed to the Countywide Fire Department unless there is a declared state of emergency and unless there is a real threat or existence of a disaster of unprecedented size and destructiveness. While not engaged in active response, the costs of their employment may be split evenly between the two entities. The cost of the building and the apparatus must also be split between the two entities.

    I am not sure the county would want to go through all of that accounting work, but if that is how they wanted to do it they could I guess.

    What this all means is that the amount of money that is being spent on the Countywide Fire Department would be substantial. Now, before we move on, when I say that the county is not authorized to provide “ANY” emergency services on a regular basis through WEMA, I am not just talking about fire suppression, I mean any emergency services whatsoever, including, but not limited to, rescue, first aid, emergency medical services, water rescue or other service. Nada, nothing, zilch, zero! Not one iota. Not even a look of pity if it costs us one red cent. Therefore, the costs attributable to the Countywide Fire Department are somewhere in the $7 million to $8 million dollar range instead of the measly and paltry $2.5 million that was appropriated this past year and the $0.0 that was appropriated to it in past years. This is an incredibly important factor and I will explain.

    The County has only two real options when it comes to funding the operations of the Countywide Fire Department. They can fund it through fire taxes or they can fund it through an alternative form of funding provided through an amendment to the Countywide Fire Department statutes in 1999. Fire taxes are taxes that are specifically levied on property values and that are appropriated directly to the fire department to cover its costs of operations and to maintain the department. Those taxes cannot be used for anything other than to provide fire protection services as described and delineated in TCA §5-17-102. The alternative is broken down into two possibilities. The statute says that the alternative funds shall be situs (meaning collected by area) based taxes that are collected only from the unincorporated portions of the county or other sources of revenue that shall have already been shared with the municipalities.

    In 1995, with the approval of County Resolution R95-5-4, the county instituted Fire Taxes in Wilson County. Now, when they did that, they could only legally collect those taxes from the unincorporated portions of the county unless a municipality or municipalities opted to join the fire taxing district of the county through written agreement. Mt. Juliet and Watertown both opted into the fire taxing district of the county and we paid the fire tax, Lebanon opted not to join in and did not pay the tax. They said that they were happy with what they had. Here is the problem with that scenario. Wilson County provides Lebanon with all of its emergency services except for fire suppression. When Lebanon didn’t join in the fire tax district, it meant that they didn’t pay for the services it was receiving from the county while the rest of us did. Effectively, from 1995 through 2000, (I will get to the 2000 thing in a minute), all of Wilson County was paying for all of Lebanon’s emergency services except for its primary fire suppression operations. Good deal for Lebanon, horrible deal for the rest of us. Remember, Lebanon has been complaining for years about the deal we have with the county. I should also tell you that, prior to 1986, Mt. Juliet provided all of the fire protection services, except perhaps ambulance, to all of West Wilson County, yet we are the ones who need to put on our big boy britches? But I digress.

    In 2000, the county passed county resolution S99-8-2, which authorized the county to take advantage of the new amendment to the countywide fire department statute authorizing the county to fund the countywide fire department through the alternative funding method. That resolution authorized just one year of use of the alternative form of funding and required, if the county commission desired to use that form of funding in subsequent years, for the finance committed to make recommendation that the county use the alternative form of funding and for the county to approve that form of funding in its county budget. If they finance committed has not recommended the use of the alternative form of funding in any of the subsequent years, or if the county doen’t specifically authorize the use of the alternative form of funding in a subsequent year, then the fire tax is the only authorized form of funding of the countywide fire department. I honestly do not no for sure if the finance committee has always recommended the use of the alternative form of funding, however, I can’t find any place in the budgets I have looked at in the Whereases of any budget that says that the county is using the alternative form of funding (except perhaps the last budget) to cover the costs of the fire department.

    I just told you, in case you missed it, that the county still has a fire tax, it just isn’t using it. It is still authorized and in place, and can be used at any time as a means of funding the countywide fire department, however, they simply are not using it. I am also telling you that, in order to fix this, all they have to do is charge a fire tax to cover the costs of the countywide fire department and start charging Lebanon for the services it provides Lebanon. Overnight the problem is reconciled going forward, the past is a different story and is probably best left alone unless the county continues to be incalcitrant.

    Now I have to show you that the county cannot use the alternative form of funding to cover the costs of the countywide fire department even if they authorized it. The alternative form of funding has to either be situs based collected only from the unincorporated portions of the county “OR” must come from sources of revenue that have already been shared with the municipalities. Now, there is argument as to whether or not the county may use situs based taxes that are collected only from the unincorporated portions of the county ‘AND’ those other sources of revenues that have already been shared with the municipalities or whether they may use one or the other, but not both. For the word “or” to be interpreted as “and” it would have to be an inclusive disjunction. It is uncommon for the law, or at least it is my belief that it is uncommon, to contain an inclusive disjunction. To illustrate, when there is a sentence described in the law for crimes committed, the law says, “….five years in prison, a $100,000 fine, or both.” It does not say, “….five years in prison or a $100,000 fine” and mean, “five years in prison ‘and’ a $100,000 fine”

    For the sake of argument, because it doesn’t matter anyway, and I will show you why in a minute, that it means both. We will assume that the county can use situs based taxes collected only from the unincorporated portions of the county AND it can also use all of the other sources of revenue it takes in that have already been shared with the municipalities to pay for the costs of the countywide fire department. Assuming that I am correct thus far, and that the real costs of the countywide fire department are in the $7 million to $8 million range, there would have to be sufficient revenues in the two sources of revenue described as the alternative to fire taxes to cover those costs of the county cannot use the alternative form of funding and must revert back to property taxes.

    I am not certain, but I do not believe that there are any available funds from situs based taxes to cover the costs of the countywide fire department. The only situs based tax that I can think of that would qualify is sales taxes collected only within the unincorporated portion of the county, and then only half of those taxes. However, all of those taxes have been appropriated to cover costs of education, so they can’t use those either.

    As far as the alternative form of funding that is sources of revenue that have already been shared with the municipalities. I am not sure any really exist, and I am certain that the totality of all state shared revenues, which is what we are talking about, covers the costs. I could go into what is shared and what isn’t shared, and I would be glad to do that if you would like, but it isn’t necessary when, if you add them all up, they couldn’t cover the cost. With that said, the county must revert back to the fire tax in order to cover the costs of the countywide fire department.

    If you follow what I said, and check the sources, and do the research, I think you will find that I am correct in what I have just told you. However, for a second, let’s assume that I am not correct on the last point, and that the county can somehow use the alternative form of funding described in TCA §5-17-101. Considering that the county is providing rescue and ambulance services to Lebanon, and it is providing all of its emergency services to Mt. Juliet, and considering it provides a lot of its services to Watertown, the county would illegally be taking money intended for only those who live in the unincorporated portions of the county and spending it on those who live in the cities! Either way they go, they are breaking the law!

    I will take this one step farther and tell you that, even if the construction of things as they exist today were legal, and if the county could provide regular emergency services through WEMA, and if they could fund things through the framework in which they are funding them, they still couldn’t be doing so lawfully! They are appropriating $2.5 million to the countywide fire department and have identified the sources of that $2.5 million dollars. The trouble is, the sources that they identified, at least some of them anyway, are not qualified sources pursuant to T.C.A. §5-17-101. The source of revenue has to have already been shared with the municipalities. They identify TVA in-lieu of property tax revenues as a source of revenue to cover the costs of the Countywide Fire Department. Those are not qualified revenues because the revenues they are identifying have not been shared with the municipalities and are intended for the benefit of all Wilson Countians! We all are entitled to the use of the TVA in-lieu of money the county gets from the state, it isn’t intended just for those who live in the unincorporated portions of the county! The county is robbing us of our money!

    I have identified for you precisely why the county necessarily must be violating the law in the operation of its emergency services operations. You know have access to the knowledge that should prove to any reasonable person that the county is out of line. If you need additional references and proof I would be glad to provide them to you.

    At this point, if our city commission would simply stop ignoring me, they could avail themselves of the knowledge that is necessary to take this issue over the goal-line and win this horrible game the county insists we play. This issue is open and shut. The county has even been ordered by Judge C.K. Smith to levy a property tax. There is so much evidence to back up what I am telling you now, and have been telling them, that no judge could find for the county without risk of being suspected of impropriety and bring scrutiny upon himself or herself.

    It has taken years of study and research in order for me to get to the bottom of this issue. I believe that I have it figured out, but then again, from time-to-time I find something I never knew or thought of before. That said, I am pretty clear on what I just described and explained to you. I hope it was presented in way which you can easily understand. I know it is a complicated matter, I have tried to explain it as clearly as possible. If you have questions, please ask and I will do my best to explain more clearly.

    There is a better way to handle this, however, it requires that everyone be willing to play their part. I have figured out several scenarios where we can have greatly enhanced emergency services in this county without greatly increasing costs. In the event that the county remains intractable, I also have scenarios figured out that would allow Mt. Juliet to greatly enhance services without great increase in costs. All this commission has to do is listen and take appropriate action. I do not know what they are waiting for. There is so much to do and nothing much is being done. It is a curiosity, but it is also an atrocity.

  251. Butch Huber

    my apologies, I just reread what I just wrote and posted. There are some typos in it, but I think you can figure them out and get past them. If not, I will repost with the corrections made if necessary.

  252. Butch Huber

    It is astounding to me that five people who have it within their ability to actually help the 25,000 or so of us in this city straighten things out so that we are not being taken advantage of will not do anything, anything at all, to stand for us. The have the power to hold hearings and call witnesses and compel testimony under oath. They can hire experts. They can put together committees. I would much rather them take the $1.3 million or so that they have collected from us in property taxes thus far and put them into a campaign to force the county to do what is right and what is legal. They should ensure that what they are doing is the right thing to do before they haul off and do it. I don’t really know what else to do with them. They simply refuse to do their duty to protect the interests of the people of Mt. Juliet. There is a pattern and history of abuse going on here. One of those abuses in particular just recently became evident to me.

    Between the years 1995 and 2000, Wilson County charged a fire tax. The cities of Mt. Juliet and Watertown joined the fire tax district and we paid fire taxes to the county. The level of coverage in Mt. Juliet never changed. I am betting that the level of coverage in Lebanon and Watertown never changed. We paid a direct tax for fire protection, and yet nothing likely ever changed anywhere in the county. Here is the abuse. Lebanon opted out of the fire tax district and paid no fire taxes, but the level of service that was provided to them before, during and after the fire taxes were charged likely never changed on iota.

    During this process, I calculated the dollar amount per person that was being spent in Lebanon, Watertown, Mt. Juliet and the unincorporated portions of WIlson County. I found that Lebanon and Watertown were receiving about $88 and $85 per person respectively while Mt. Juliet was only receiving about $54 per person. I am betting that this ratio between what Mt. Juliet receives and what those two cities receives was no different during the five years or so that the county charged a fire tax. Here is what I am telling you. During those five years, the people of Mt. Juliet paid for Lebanon’s and Watertown’s fire protection services directly. It wasn’t hidden, it was there in plain view for anyone who was watching and who knew the numbers. Now, I know that we are experiencing the same thing now, but when the county was charging a fire tax the county could clearly see how much money was coming from Mt. Juliet!

    Let me make the distinction much clearer for you. Back when they were charging a fire tax, they were charging taxes for “Fast response” and “Delayed response”. Fast response was all those areas that were within, I believe, one and a half miles of a fire station. The delayed response, I believe, was all the area that existed outside of the one and a half mile radius, but within five miles of a station. Lebanon, which opted out of the fire district, apparently was still laid out as if it were included and tax rates applied, but not charged. Lebanon has both fast response and delayed response tax rates listed on the comptrollers assessment chart. Watertown, which consists of 1.25 miles square miles if I am not mistaken, has both delay and fast response listed, however, Mt. Juliet, a city of 20 square miles, has only fast response listed. Doesn’t that strike you as being odd?

    Now remember how much more Lebanon and Watertown get per person compared to what we get in Mt. Juliet in terms of provision of services. Back when they were charging a fire tax, Mt. Juliet would have paid somewhere in the neighborhood of $350,000 in fire taxes to the county. This is a direct tax that can only legally be spent on fire protection services. Lebanon, apparently, because they opted out of the fire taxing districts, paid “ZERO” dollars to the county, but received, presumably, as much as 60% more service per person than Mt. Juliet received! Had Lebanon opted in, instead of opting out, and had they been considered fast response in the same way that Mt. Juliet was considered fast response, they would have paid in more than $700,000! Someone please tell me who needs to put on their big boy britches, again, I am getting confused! Is this little ditty the thing that they are trying to hide? Did I stumble across the answer to the riddle?

  253. Randall Patrick "R.P." McMurphy

    Butch,
    We have the opportunity to change 2 of those 5. I think we should seriously look at them. One has given a viable plan and one has shown wisdom to listen. That is something we have never had.
    RP

  254. Butch Huber

    I agree that the election can provide us with hope of change, but should we really have to wait? We have five people sitting on the commission who are accomplishing virtually nothing. From what I have seen, they haven’t gotten really anything accomplished over the past several years. The roads projects that have been completed were put in play years ago. Providence and Paddocks were on the books years ago. The Beckwith Road interchange was in the works years ago. Pretty much everything that is happening was put into play years ago. That’s fine, that’s understandable, it takes a long time to get those kinds of projects completed, but what have they put into play for the future? I can’t think of anything, can you? It takes years to get projects off the ground. They need to be putting things in play now so that in five to ten years, when those things are needed, we already have them in place rather than being five to ten years behind.

    Here we have what is the most heated (pun intended) issue in the county, or at least it was supposed to be a dire emergency anyway, and the only thing they are doing is purchasing a piece of property and planning the construction of a new fire station. That’s it. Have you heard of any plan for hiring staff? Have you heard of any kind of conclusion as to who is going to staff it and who is paying for that staffing? Have you heard who is going to equip it and who is going to pay for that equipment? How about fundraising? They could be raising funds through donations, why aren’t they doing that? What about continuing to search for alternative solutions? What about getting an arbitration company involved or hiring an attorney or conducting continuing research on the issue to uncover as much about the issue as possible? Nothing! It’s as is they feel that, if they build the building, they will come.

    They are chasing the wrong dog! Today they should be voting to “help the county out” by voting to establish our own public safety department, not fire department, and voting to provide our own ambulance and rescue services in a “good faith” effort with the county. They should say, “because the county has been using the men and women that they staff station 3 to cover fire, rescue, and emergency medical response, it spreads those personnel to thinly, therefore, we have elected to take some of the load off of those personnel who staff station 3 by establishing our own ambulance and rescue squad in Mt. Juliet. The county says that the only thing that is associated with the Countywide Fire Department is fire suppression, so it would not affect the interlocal agreement, which appears may still be in effect after all. (I read an article from the Mt. Juliet news that was written in october of last year and as of that date the county had still not notified Mt. Juliet that it was terminating the agreement. If Wilson County failed to send proper notification to Mt. Juliet then the agreement is still in place, and, because it has breached the annual renewal date, is still good for at least one more year.) This will take a huge burden off of those men and women at station 3. Of course, we will now be charing the fees for service for both rescue and for ambulance calls. The fees for service from our public safety department will be sufficiently large enough to cover the costs of operations of that department, so there will not be an added burden upon the taxpayer. One the building is established and the equipment is purchased, the city will vote once again to return the property tax rate in this city to zero.” RP, they could put that into play almost immediately. They should purchase two ambulances and two rescue vehicles and they should station them on opposite sides of town. The County will not experience any reduction in cost to the county, yet they will immediately lose perhaps as much as a million dollars in fees for service that they have been collecting from Mt. Juliet. When they begin to squawk about having to provide fire suppression in Mt. Juliet after that the city can say, “Hey, wait a cotton-pickin second! You provide rescue and ambulance to Lebanon, you provide Ambulance service to Watertown, but you don’t want to provide fire to Mt. Juliet? Fire is the least of the issues. How can you complain about having to provide “fire suppression” to Mt. Juliet when your own resolution says that you will and when the law says you must and while all of that time you are providing Lebanon and Watertown with ambulance services and are providing Lebanon with rescue services? Aren’t you kind of playing favorites here?” How would the county deal with that? What could they say? Doesn’t that simply back them into the corner? Doesn’t that let all the air out of their sails? What could they do? We shouldn’t have to wait for four more months, this is something that they should do immediately.

    I appreciate the cheering up, I do, I just don’t think that five people who are paid about a thousand dollars per month to sit in two or three meetings per month should be given a pass. They should have to make use of the four months that they have left.

  255. Butch Huber

    Addendum to my last post. The city should conduct research to determine the level of ambulance and rescue service that is needed and should provide the appropriate level of service. We may not have need of two rescue trucks. I think we need two ambulance vehicles without a doubt.

  256. Randall Patrick "R.P." McMurphy

    Butch, Agreed to the 10th power. Should we have to wait? No. Will we have to wait. Absolutely. These guys have had this for years and haven’t even broke dirt…”huge strides” according to Ed. Of course its huge strides, he nor they have a clue as to what they are doing, they are scared to do anything, they are hoping that somewhere along the way the pitiless county will taked pity on them, they will not listen to the you, me or the professionals because they think they will look weak, hell, they don’t trust each other, how in the world can trust us. They will not fix this in the last 4 months. What they are going to do is screw the pooch trying to show one last push to do for their campaigns. Self serving over public serving. Best thing they can do now is concentrate on the MJ road project and whatever part they think they sell as to their part in Providence. They should leave the fire issue and just be ready to take their lumps during a debate on the issue. The points you have made are solid…our leaders are not.

    RP

    P.S. Tn D.O.T. governs TN EMS Division mandates 1 ambulance per 10,000 population in a recognized border. MJ with 25, 000 round up = 3 ambulances. That seems like alot but look at call volume and room for future growth. (small increase) 5,000.

  257. Butch Huber

    I was aware that it was “recommended” that we have 1 ambulance for every 10,000 residents, I was not aware that it was a mandate. I will try to find this mandate, however, if you can post the actual link it would be appreciated. Thanks.

    I think I am going to appeal to them to actually take a giant stride forward by assembling a committee to take this issue on instead of leaving it in the wind. I think the best thing that they could do at this point is to turn it over to those who are involved and interested for them to find reasonable and rational solutions. They need to fund the committee so that they have enough money to do the job. They need to hire an attorney for this issue so that the committee can have proper legal advice and so that they can obtain testimony. The committee should be fully empowered and should have a full set of sharp teeth in its mouth.

  258. Doc Cider

    I think any research done will show the ambulance calls vastly outnumber the fire suppression calls, even with the recent spike in the latter. And, while ambulances aren’t cheap, they are certainly more so than fire trucks and would recoup that money. The two choices the Commission should be looking at are making the county do what needs to be done and/or doing it ourselves-across the board. My heart favors the first and my head the second. Mt. Juliet paying and the county continuing to take the money and run is not a smart option.

    Here is a place where Jimbo has outsmarted himself by placing himself in the middle of a conflict of interest on an important issue. The voters may decide which office-if any- he keeps in 2014.

  259. Thank you , Butch, for the kind words. I truly appreciate you and your efforts and will be in contact should I be blessed with this office. I wish you and the rest of the contributors here the very best. God bless. Jamie

  260. Butch Huber

    What’s this I heard? I heard James Maness in the commission meeting talking about two proposals going before the EMA committee regarding a solution to the issue we face here. First off, I don’t think there is authorization for an EMA board in state statute. If there isn’t anything wrong with having an EMA committee, it has absolutely nothing to do with the operation of a Countywide Fire Department. A countywide fire department is a separate entity much as a school board is separate. They county commission approves funding, but that is all they do. The fire chief runs the department, that’s it, end of story, period. He really answers to no man. They can fire him, or they can keep him, but they can’t really tell him what to do. Secondly, it would really be nice if we knew what was going on, after all, it is our money they are spending. I will be looking into this and finding out what those proposals are.

  261. Butch Huber

    I read the minutes from the last meeting of the commission, not last night, but from the last meeting in June. It said that John Jewel was at our commission meeting requesting that the building we are building in Mt. Juliet have bay doors on both sides and that it have four bays.

    All of the commissioners seem to be on the same page and have understanding of what is happening here, however, I do not recall hearing or seeing anything about this in public. Perhaps I blinked and missed something, but it sounds to me like these guys must be working with each other behind the scenes, outside the public eye, outside the supposedly watchful eye of the media, putting together a deal or two. This belief is bolstered by the talk of proposals going before the county EMA committee.

    I am going to be digging in to find out exactly what the hell is going on here. If need be I will be requesting to see the bills for their cell phones and their email transmissions back and forth to one another. If they are working together behind the scenes on this deal, outside public scrutiny, then they will have proven that they are no better than the last commission under Elam.

    Jamie, here is your chance to jump in. Jonathan, here is your chance to jump in. If they are talking to each other, behind the scenes, then they are breaking the sunshine law. This is a violation that they should wear around their necks.

    Obviously, if John Jewel is even in our meeting at all, it means that WEMA is involved. Why would WEMA be involved in “OUR” fire station? Because there is some behind the scenes deal being put together to have WEMA provide the service while we pay for the building, and probably the equipment as well. It will be interesting to see if they can put together a legal deal with the county. It will be hard, but I am not saying it is impossible.

    It looks like RP was right, they are setting things up for us to pay for building a fire department and then turn the keys over to John Jewel. The question becomes, if the deal is somehow an otherwise good deal, but it is an illegal deal, then what?

  262. Randall Patrick "R.P." McMurphy

    BooYah and Good Morning,
    You know I will be the first one to admit that I am full of beans…but they ARE beans of truth. Where to begin? For MONTHS now, Jewell has been traveling to MJ to meet with Maness AND/OR Hagerty and others. He HAS gone down there more frequently recently because one of the group got fired for posting peepee pictures and whoring out his ole lady and they had to find a replacement. Bet YOU, John Q. Public did not know that. His intent was to make sure that whatever MJ did as far as a fixed asset (fire hall)they did to his liking because he believes as I do that the keys to this asset WILL end up in his pocket. As an aside, he then laughs at how little the members of this little group know about fire protection, assets, operationability, etc. This is particularly funny to me and others because of how little he knows…but I digress. Here’s a seed, ask for his qualifications and prepare to be amazed. Anyway, they have been meeting for months now and the end result is apparently 2 plans to be presented to the County. Now hold on. How can you have 2 plans ready to represent this city’s protection and the city leaders NOT know (how can they??? (How can Maness, who knows very little about fire protection/emergency services, come up with 2 plans? Did anyone with such experience help him and if so, who?) They have never met as a quorum on the issue because we have never been informed they were meeting as a quorum, have we? Did I miss something?) Further, neither YOU nor I know what these 2 plans involve, do we? Again, did I miss something? My guess is this:
    Plan 1–County protect us with whatever scraps you have.
    County Response–NO!!!
    Plan 2–Please.
    I have heard hints of what the plans ask for and please believe me, all kidding aside, THEY ARE GROTESQUELY UNORTHODOX AND CREATE A LOGISTICS NIGHTMARE.
    How can a city represented by 5 people have a plan ready, prepared by only 2, ready to present without the knowledge of the other 3?
    “Huge Strides”–begging the county for more handouts and having a city NOW inadequtely protected by 2 fire stations.
    “City gov’t. focused on what it should be”–Covert and possibly illegal meetings complete with perverse sex freaks and wannabe directors.
    PRAY HARDER!!! and do not listen to that little ego voice. Someone should call Art, Jim, and Ted and see what they know of the deal. If they do, we need to know WHAT,WHEN, and HOW. Oh, and to answer your last question, Brother Butch…IF IT IS AN ILLEGAL DEAL, THEN IT IS WRONG, WRONG, WRONG ON ALL COUNTS…PERIOD. Not a good thing to have around your neck this close to the election.

    RP

    “Everything secret degenerates, even the administration of justice; nothing is safe that does not show how it can bear discussion and publicity”.
    Lord Acton

    “Secrecy is the beginning of tyranny”.
    Robert A. Heinlein

    FULL DISCLOSURE FOR THE COUNTY…NOW FULL DISCLOSURE FOR THE CITY.

  263. Butch Huber

    There is no legal Countywide Fire Department in Wilson County.

    I thought I had posted this earlier, but I can’t find it, so I am going to go at it again.

    You read the headline correctly, and, as you follow my logic, you will, I believe, come to the same conclusion.

    For the sake of argument and for the sake of brevity, I am going to hit the points as if I am correct on each point and those who want to debate are welcome to post back.

    The county asserts it is providing ambulance, first aid, rescue, and all other non-police emergency services pursuant to the Civil Defense Statutes under WEMA. It further asserts that only “Fire Suppression” is part of the Countywide Fire Department. Finally, the County asserts that it has delegated the powers and duties of the Countywide Fire Department to WEMA.

    The county did in fact delegate the powers and duties of the countywide fire department to WEMA when they established the countywide fire department in County Resolution R95-5-4.

    Here are the problems they face.

    According to Attorney General Opinion U92-134, the county may not provide fire protection services pursuant to the Civil Defense Statutes TCA §§58-2-101–58-2-124. He told them that the only statutes (at that time) that Wilson County was authorized by law to provide fire protection services is under the Countywide Fire Department Statutes §§5-17-101–5-17-108.

    Now we have to distinguish what is included in the term “Fire Protection Services.” Fire Protection Services includes all those things contained and enumerated in TCA §5-17-102. Those includes rescue, ambulance, fire suppression and first aid, as well as other things.

    The county, in County resolution R95-5-4, stated that the countywide fire department shall have all the powers and duties contained and enumerated in TCA 5-17-102 inclusive.

    After County Resolution R95-5-4 was approved, County Commissioner Billy Rowland tried, unsuccessfully, to separate Ambulance services from the Countywide Fire Department. This provides additional evidence that at least one or more commissioners at that time felt that ambulance was a part of the countywide fire department.

    Regardless of which organization the county thinks it is providing ambulance service, WEMA is not authorized to provide active regular emergency services either directly or through its supposed oversight and control of the Countywide Fire Department. The Civil Defense Statutes do not authorize a WEMA to provide active regular emergency services, and the county is only authorized to do those things that the general assembly specifically authorizes through statute or that are necessarily implied in the sections of statutes. (See Bayless vs Knox County). While the county is authorized to delegate the operation of the a Countywide Fire Department to another agency of the county, that other agency must also be authorized to accept those responsibilities. I do not know which organization is authorized to accept those responsibilities, I do however know that WEMA is not that agency. The Civil Defense Statues do not authorized WEMA to accept those responsibilities, therefore they may not accept the responsibilities of the Countywide Fire Department.

    The provision of R95-5-4 that delegates the operation of the Countywide Fire Department to WEMA is therefore null and void and of no effect. The county did not write in a survivability clause in R95-5-4, therefore, because the provision that delegated the operation of the Countywide Fire Department to WEMA is void, the whole resolution is void. Therefore, it is as if the Countywide Fire Department was never authorized. They are, because of this, illegally providing fire protection in Wilson County.

    All you fire fighters, be warned, you may be providing service for an organization that is illegally constructed. I don’t know what that means to your personal liability, however, I would be checking with a competent attorney if I were you.

    Even if a judge were to hold that the rest of the resolution is valid, it would mean that the county has to implement fire taxes in this county again, which is what we want. The county loses this no matter which way they go!

  264. Butch Huber

    I just read in the paper that the two proposals that are going before the EMA committee are as thus:

    1) Wilson County continues to run the emergency services, including fire suppression, from both stations in Mt Juliet (the new one to be built in Providence and the existing WEMA Station 3). Under this plan the city of Mt. Juliet would pay $50,000 per person for six people. Wilson County would pay the rest. (And also use both of our stations and, I suppose equipment that we purchase) to provide emergency services to the citizens of the unincorporated areas of the county as well as inside the city.

    2) Wilson County continues to run Station 3 and provides its services in the northern part of the city, as well at the unincorporated portion of the county around the north part of the city and Mt. Juliet runs the new station in Providence and provides services in the southern part of the city and in the unincorporated areas around the southern part of the city.

    This is going before the EMA committee. Hello, it has nothing to do with the EMA committee. The EMA committee is a bogus committee that has, best I can tell, no statutory authorization to even exist. I suppose it could be there as an advisory committee, but it can’t legally shoot anything down or approve it, everything has to go through them to the full commission. Furthermore, they have absolutely no legal say so over what the Countywide Fire Department does or does not do, that is entirely up to Fire Chief John Jewel. If John Jewel wants to set up an interlocal agreement with Mt. Juliet there is nothing that the EMA committee could do about it, it isn’t any of their business. If the EMA committee were to do anything to interfere with John Jewel, he could probably sue them for tortious interference and officious intermeddling. In fact, the city at this point should stop all dialog with the county mayor and the EMA committee and only speak with John Jewel on this matter. That way, if the county mayor or any member of the county commission or any member of the EMA committee were to butt in, the city could probably sue them for tortious interference and officious intermeddling. John Jewel runs the Fire Department as a separate agency set up in accordance with state law. Once the county established the countywide fire department it put the fire chief, whoever that person may be, in charge over the fire department. They approve the fire tax boundaries and they assess a fire tax and approve the budget for the fire department, how it is run is completely and entirely up to John Jewel and John Jewel alone. Here is the kicker, John Jewel is on the hook. He, by law, has to provide fire protection services to all, ALL, “ALL” areas of the county, including those services that are contained and enumerated in TCA 5-17-102 inclusive, just as County Resolution R95-5-4, otherwise he is derelict in his duties as fire chief. Dereliction of duty is grounds for charges of misconduct. Misconduct is grounds for termination. So, you see, anyone trying to stop him from providing fire protection services, including all of those services contained and enumerated in TCA 5-17-102, would be causing him to be derelict in his duties. Any official who tries to keep him from his oath sworn duties as fire chief is guilty of interference of government operations or guilty of attempting to interfere with government operations. I believe that interfering with legitimate government operations is a crime. I also believe that interfering with someone whose job it is to provide emergency medical or fire protection response is a crime in and of itself, but I guess I could be wrong. At any rate, I am not sure that Kenny Reich or the EMA or the County Commission or the County Mayor want to continue down this road until they really understand their rights and powers and the rights and powers of the City of Mt. Juliet, its citizens, and the rights and powers of the Chief of the Countywide Fire Department. Sheriffs have successfully sued county commissions who have interfered with their duties, I am quite sure that John Jewel could do the same.

    I would think they would want to ensure that they have their act together before they go down this road, but then again, we are talking about Kenny Reich and the county commission….I guess anything is possible at this point.

  265. Randall Patrick "R.P." McMurphy

    This station will be built to PACIFY, not protect. It is to shut the people from Dell Webb
    up. The county gets a new station and our city tax too. What a screwin’!!!
    Plan #1 represents a complete lack of creative or researched thought.
    Plan #2 is a logistical mushroom cloud. I think I used the term grotesquely unorthodox earlier. Someone WILL die when the dispatchers do not know which of the two stations to dispatch. It will take 2 lifetimes for them to figure this out. Further, MJ will now be a city inadequately protected by TWO stations from TWO departments. AND, the question still stands…How did these two plans come about with out discussion from the ENTIRE city commission in the public light???
    Someone call the local rags…this IS the story.

    RP

    Butch,
    The autonomy of Jewell may exist on paper, but if he does not do what the commission desires or tow the company line…they will drop him like a leper. Any doubts, ask Jerry McFarland. He found out in short order what happens when you tell your boss how its gonna be.

  266. Butch Huber

    Sent out this morning:

    Dear Mayor Hutto, Mayor Hagerty, Vice Mayor Maness, Mt. Juliet Commissioners, City Manager Kenny Martin, and Media Members,

    I have yet another proposal for the EMA to consider even though the EMA committee has absolutely nothing to do with this issue whatsoever.

    The Wilson County Government asserts that it provides rescue and ambulance countywide. The only thing that isn’t covered by the county on a “Countywide Basis” through the “Countywide FIRE Department” (Keyword being “Fire”) is “COUNTYWIDE Fire Suppression”. As ironic as that seems, that apparently is the way the provision of emergency services in “THIS” county is constructed. I will not argue the legality of such a construction here as it would largely fall on deaf ears with the exception of one or two of the people I am addressing in this article. Those of us who have studied the law know that what the county is doing is illegal, but for now we will agree to turn our heads from the rule of law and we will turn our backs on everyone who has ever worn a uniform to uphold the Constitution of the United States, the Constitution of the State of Tennessee, and to enforce the laws of this state. We will turn our backs on the spirit of this nation and, for the benefit of Kenny Reich and a few others who seem to have an ax to grind, and we will agree to come up with a plan that, albeit illegal, is one that everyone can live with; including those who have a real emergency.

    A recent study of the provision of fire protection services in this county concluded that fire suppression makes up a very small portion of the costs of WEMA’s operation in general and it is a very small portion of WEMA’s costs inside the City of Mt. Juliet. I suspect that the percent of calls for actual “Fire Suppression” make up only about 1 to 5 percent of all calls made to WEMA inside the City of Mt. Juliet. Let me run that by you in reverse and see if it makes a deeper impact. Between 95 and 99 percent of all calls that come in to WEMA from inside the City of Mt. Juliet are for calls that have nothing to do with “Fire Suppression”. Now, follow the bouncing ball here, the thing that has those in the county in a dither is the provision of fire suppression only, the rest they have no problem with providing to us because they provide everything, other than fire suppression, on a countywide basis.

    It would seem that any building being built in this city, any equipment purchased in this city, and personnel hired to staff those stations, and any materials purchased for those stations, should be split on a proportionate prorated basis. After all, the county says that it is providing those services, other than “Fire Suppression”, to all of the county. I was there when the EMA committee, and even Kenny Reich, said, “We provide ambulance service to all of the county”, and we know that they also provide rescue services to all of the county as well, and based on the way that they fund the “Countywide” fire department, and how they fund the rest of the services, we can all conclude that everything the county provides in terms of emergency services, except for fire suppression, is funded through WEMA and is provided on a countywide basis.

    So, here is my plan. (It really isn’t my plan, it is really a Red Herring, but don’t tell anyone. Shhhh!)

    Have the county pay for the construction of the new fire station, have them pay to staff the station and equip the station, have them purchase any materials, pay for any training, etc. Have the county enhance to whatever degree you guys work out between you. Let Mt. Juliet pay the county a proportionate amount of money, based on the same accounting practices that they used to determine the costs of fire suppression when the calculated the costs of the fire department when they sent the letter (Some of you know which calculation I am speaking of) to the Comptroller. You have that letter. All you have to do is reverse calculations and you can determine what multipliers and divisors they used in those computations and then use those to calculate the costs in Mt. Juliet. The county surely couldn’t have a problem with the city using the same factors to do their computations to figure out what to pay the county for its services, could it?)

    Mt. Juliet could pay the county based on the number of calls for actual “Fire Suppression” in Mt. Juliet. All of the ambulance calls and rescue calls and other calls for emergency services would be borne by the county, just as they are in Lebanon and Watertown and everywhere else in the county. Yeah, I know that Watertown provides its own rescue, but isn’t that just for the 1.25 square miles that is Watertown itself? The rest of all of Wilson County is provided with Rescue Services under the Civil Defense Statutes TCA 58-2-101–58-2-124, regardless of how illegal it is for them to provides such services on a regular basis under those statutes.

    If Mt. Juliet wanted to build the building, and if Mt. Juliet wanted to own the equipment, then the county can lease the building, as well as the existing building, from the City at going prices per square foot. The county could also lease the equipment from the city as well. In fact, the city could even hire the employees to staff the station and lease them to the county as well.

    Now, we have to assume that Mayor Hutto and the County Government want to be fair and equitable with the City of Mt. Juliet, so I am sure that they would see this as a fair proposal. After all, they currently are providing the City of Lebanon with at least $88.85 per person worth of Emergency Services, and they are providing Watertown with at least $85 per person worth of Emergency Services, while at the same time are only providing those of us who live in Mt. Juliet with a little over $54 worth of Emergency Services, so clearly we have not become overly burdensome to the County Government. Also, considering we provide the county with at least 25% of its entire budget and only receive back in the neighborhood of around 21% of the benefits provided by the county, we clearly….Clearly….CLEARLY are not a burden to the County. It would seem that this is the ideal proposal if we are going to wink our eyes at the illegal construction and operation of Emergency Services in this county as it currently exists.

    Under my plan, Wilson County pays for the exact same type of service in Mt. Juliet as it pays for in Lebanon and Mt. Juliet would be paying for its own fire suppression. The only difference is, instead of providing our own fire suppression, like Lebanon does, and, by doing so creating a huge burden on the taxpayers of Mt. Juliet, like they do in Lebanon, when that burden isn’t necessary, we would actually be helping out the county in its efforts to provide emergency services by paying for the costs of the “COUNTYWIDE” fire department because we would be paying for the costs of our own “Fire” suppression. Lebanon, by operating its own fire department, actually works counter to what is in everyone’s best interests.

    Now, one caveat to this plan is that the county would have to discontinue its illegal practice of providing regular emergency services under the civil defense statutes and actually cover them under the Countywide Fire Department. That would require that they institute fire taxes and it would mean that Lebanon no longer gets a free ride in terms of the provision of ambulance and rescue operations from the county. Watertown, too, would lose its free services as well. It would also mean that the county couldn’t provide those services in Mt. Juliet free of charge either. Well, what the hell, let’s do it anyway and see what happens. I’m sure nobody will sue the county over this plan, aren’t you?

    Yes, I know that Kenny Reich gets his panties in a wad because Mt. Juliet doesn’t have its own fire department, and I am not sure what we ever did to him, but that is his personal problem to deal with. Even Kenny Reich, if he were to calmly and rationally sit down and think it through, could come to the conclusion that it simply doesn’t make sense to ask the city of Mt. Juliet to spend upwards of $3 million per year to develop its own fire stations for the purpose of providing just “Fire Suppression” when the city could pay the county to provide fire suppression and in doing so even help mitigate the costs of the countywide, er, um, Civil Defense Operations (We can’t say “Countywide Fire Department” here because the “Countywide Fire Department” is anything but a “countywide” fire department. According to Kenny Reich, the “Countywide” fire department is a “Rural” fire department. I don’t know how he comes up with this stuff! He cracks me up. He is a real hoot! The “Countywide FIRE department” is a “Rural Fire Department”? That’s funny stuff right there, I don’t care who you are! He even says it with a straight face…I don’t know how he does it!)

    I am pretty sure, once it is all said and done, when you consider the rent and all, the county’s payments to the city and the city payments to the county, would be just about a wash. All-in-all, this sounds like a good plan. I am sure all of the politicians involved will see my plan as being a great plan because it makes the absolute best use of the taxpayer’s money, and after all, those in public office always, always, always, have it as their main goal to do the very best they can to protect the taxpayers and be good stewards over our money, right? No politician, including even Kenny Reich, would dare do anything that would cause taxpayers to pay one red cent more than we have to in order to provide what is needed, right?

    Now, in closing out my plan, I suggest that all of the politicians involved in this matter put their “Big Boy Britches” on and do what is right for all of the taxpayers in this county and stop trying to make Mt. Juliet make the same stupid mistake that Lebanon has made by paying $3,000,000 per year, every year, to provide services inside their city that the county could, and should, provide to everyone under the “Countywide” Fire Department. That still has me in stitches. “The COUNTYWIDE fire department doesn’t provide fire suppression on a COUNTYWIDE basis!” Hah! That’s a riot! “The COUNTYWIDE FIRE DEPARTMENT doesn’t provide Fire Suppression on a COUNTYWIDE basis!!!! That’s a side splitter right there! Ahahahahaha!!!! I can hardly breathe I’m laughing so hard. Oh, my side hurts! Only in Wilson County!

    Time to get serious for a moment.

    Now, my real plan is better. Let the county actually do things legally and put all of the emergency services operations it provides under the Countywide Fire Department just like the resolution that authorized the establishment of the countywide fire department said in the first place. Pass another county resolution establishing a countywide fire department pursuant to TCA 5-17-101 et seq. (You have to do this because R95-5-4 is null and void and of no effect). Let Mt. Juliet own and operate its own emergency services operation, including fire, rescue and ambulance, and let us provide that service to all of Mt. Juliet and all of the area surrounding Mt. Juliet in the unincorporated portions of the county. Let the city of Mt. Juliet charge for ambulance and rescue calls for service no matter whether or not they are inside or outside the city. The fees collected from those services would offset nearly all of the costs of the emergency services operation. Mt. Juliet could charge the county for the portion of the calls for fire suppression in the unincorporated portion of the county on a prorated basis. Inside Mt. Juliet the city can pay for the costs of the fire calls through appropriations from the general fund. Lebanon could do the same thing in Lebanon and Watertown could do the same thing in Watertown. Now, doesn’t that sound a lot nicer and a lot fairer? The people in the areas in and around each of the cities would get “urban” type service, and the county can really make their “Countywide” fire service a “Rural” fire service once and for all (even though it would still be called the “Countywide” fire department. Everyone wins under my plan and the benefit of my plan is that it is “ACTUALLY LEGAL!!!!!” I think it is the “actually legal” part that gets so many people all hung up.

    Sincerely,

    Butch Huber

  267. Butch Huber

    RP,

    Regardless of whether or not he listens to them, he has an affirmative duty to provide fire protection services to “ALL” of the county. Any failure to do so on his part is a failure to do his job. That takes it all into a hearing under the uniform administrative procedures act, which takes it out of the hands of the commission and out of the hands of the local judiciary and into a totally different type of system where he will be ordered to do his job.

    The EMA can’t help him down there and neither can the commission or the Mayor. He will be all on his own. I don’t even think he has the right to representation by the County Attorney in that arena, but I could be wrong.

  268. Randall Patrick "R.P." McMurphy

    True, and he is doing just that. WEMA does provide fire protection to “all” the county. Whether it be primary, secondary (as it is in Watertown), or by mutual aid (as with Lebanon Fire dept.) WEMA does it as best as a country fire dept. can. And you are right, if he screws the pooch, they can’t help him…I believe they WON’T help him. I have met with these people and they got him for 2 reasons 1, He bought his job thru campaign contributions to Hutto’s favor and 2. They brag about having the best “YES” man in the county. But make no mistake, if he snaps at the hand that feeds him, he’ll be bounced back to aqua city faster than a cat can lick its ass. Personally, I hope he messes with Commissioner Patton one good time…word is she is a big fan. LOL Check his qualifications…a little more full disclosure for you.

    On another note, any luck finding out about the formation of the 2 plans as to how many city leaders were in the loop?

    RP

  269. Butch Huber

    Word is that Maness drafted one of the proposals and sent it straight to the county. I am not sure it has been presented to any of the other commissioners in the city. The second proposal, which could actually be the first proposal, I don’t know which order these are going in, was drafted by Hutto.

  270. Randall Patrick "R.P." McMurphy

    Interesting. You know, it don’t take much creative thought to repeat what you have already done i.e. “plan 1: build another station 3 scenario”. Especially when the need is a helluva lot more dynamic than that. And that plan 2 is still a whopper. These 2 plans truly represent the polar opposites on the thought scale…one has near nothing and the other has too much. Also a thought, if I am Ed or one of the other commissioners, I might want to see proposals of this magnitude before you turn them in. I think this is a story within itself. Either you have some sneaky illegal meetings and/or phone calls being made during the formation of these two “brilliant” light bulbs OR you got a renegade commissioner that don’t know his poop chute from a hole in the ground about fire protection winging it with a U-SWAG.
    (Un-Scientific Wild Ass Guess) I still think the local media should ask the questions: How did this come about? and Who had input? I know you want to know as bad as I do.

    RP

    “…whereas ability to repeat catch phrases, cant terms, FAMILIAR PROPOSITIONS, give the conceit of learning and coats the mind with varnish waterproof to new ideas “. John Dewey

  271. Butch Huber

    RP.

    I know some things that I have not revealed regarding this issue. I am not keeping it from the readers of Radiofree, I am keeping it from the players in this charade until the right time. Once that time has passed, I will explain.

    As for putting the plan to the EMA, James Maness is the point man on the fire issue. Whether or not he should put something before the EMA without the others looking at it is, I guess, up to opinion. The EMA nor he can activate anything until it is approved by the commissions. As far as Hutto’s proposal he is following protocol, no matter how unwise or unlawful it may be.

    I got the answer I was looking for, I just haven’t shared it yet. I will in due time. I am just waiting for the precise moment to reveal it so that the reason to keep it secret can be successful. I’m going to ask you to trust me on this. I hope I have earned your trust by now. If you would like to discuss this off-line I would be glad to share with you.

    I am certain that the county is going to vote, “none of the above.” But to make sure, I wanted to give them my email to hopefully piss them off.

  272. Butch Huber

    Interestingly, it appears that County Fire Chief John Jewel works for free. He receives no salary as the Fire Chief of Wilson County.

    Okay, now for the other shoe. He does, however, receive a salary as the WEMA director. As the WEMA director, he works directly for the County Mayor. The Emergency Management Agency Committee has no control or oversight over the WEMA director. The Mayor submits a budget for WEMA and the county commission either approves or disapproves it, but that’s all they have to do with the matter.

    Isn’t that a hoot?

  273. Randall Patrick "R.P." McMurphy

    Butch,
    You, sir, DO have my trust and my gratitude.
    “I’m trusting in the Lord and a good lawyer”. Oliver North

    …and Butch. RP

  274. Butch Huber

    Just sent out to all of our locally elected officials in local government and to the media. I know, it seems like a waste of time, but I try. They have to make a decision to hurt themselves not to listen and learn and take advantage of things that they can take advantage of. Brian Tracy says, “it is physically impossible for a healthy human mind to intentionally make a decision that would leave one worse off.” I am just looking to see who is a possessor of an unhealthy mind.

    Greetings to all,

    I am writing to you to encourage you and implore you to work together to come to a solution to the emergency services operations issue we face in this county. While this issue has been a burning issue (Pun intended) for over 16 years, beginning with the exasperation of the people in Mt. Juliet that they were providing fire protection services both inside the city and outside the city without compensation from those who were not paying for the service in the unincorporated portion of the county, to the ordinance of the city of Mt. Juliet to discontinue service to the unincorporated portion of the county, to the inter local agreement between the county and the city in 1986, to the lawsuits brought against the county in Corley and Alsup vs Wilson County, to the intended discontinuation of services in Mt. Juliet in 2006, to the new inter local agreement between the city and the county and the CTAS/MTAS study in 2006, to the resolution in the county to discontinue service to Mt. Juliet and the intended termination of the inter local agreement last year, to the failed attempts to work this issue out in 2012, to the new proposals, to the fact that many components of the current operation and construction of the emergency services in this country are illegal and are violating the rights of people and the powers of governments, to the medial articles attempting to influence the issue in one direction or another, to public acrimony between factions and sectors of the population of this county, this has been a pervasive issue that doesn’t seem to have an end!

    The current construction of the countywide fire department and the operation of WEMA and the Countywide Fire Department are not in keeping with the law and I can clearly show you that what I am saying is true. I can break it down on a level that, if you followed what I am showing you, you would convince yourself that what I am telling you is true. Now, this can be taken care of in lawsuits if necessary, however, lawsuits are the last way any of us want to settle this issue if we can avoid them.

    Since the Countywide Fire Department was established in County Resolution R95-5-4, many things have occurred that give you options you didn’t have before. Those options give you the ability to actually provide the services legally, equitably, ethically, professionally, and cooperatively. In short, “there is a better way.” There is a better way, but certain people are being stubborn and stiff-necked and they won’t listen to reason. Those people are going to land this issue in court. Now, going to court on this doesn’t bother me as much as it will bother others because I am absolutely confident that I, as a citizen of Mt. Juliet, would win in that deal, and while I would lose as a county resident, the win I would have as a citizen of the city would outweigh my lose as a county resident, but I am not looking for a zero-sum score, I am looking for a win-win-win score, aren’t you? Really, do those of you who want to hold onto this current configuration want it so badly that you are going to risk losing it all in court? I promise you there is a better and legal way to handle all of this.

    To you, Commissioner Patton, I understand that you want better services in your portion of the county, as does Kenny Reich and many others who have constituents in sparsely populated portions of the county. I get that and I understand why you want those services. I hope you can understand that it isn’t my duty as a citizen of Mt. Juliet to pay for the services that you receive. Likewise, many think that Mt. Juliet is getting a deal that is unfair to the people who live in the less densely populated areas of the county. We can go back and forth on this forever and I don’t think anyone will ultimately convince the other that they are correct or incorrect. It is one of those situations were people tend to agree to disagree or they consign themselves to feud and battle over the issues ad nauseam.

    Many assess me as being abrasive. That’s fine with me, those who assess me as being abrasive are usually either those who are ignoring the truth that I tell them and I have to ratchet things up to get their attention (I am not opposed to ticking people off to get my point across to them) or they are people who side with people who are ignoring what I am telling them and who have an agenda (I actually enjoy ticking people off who have an unethical agenda). That said, just because you consider me to be abrasive is no reason to ignore what I am telling you now. I am telling you that you are not taking advantage of things that could help this county in so many ways I couldn’t express them all in this email without losing your focus. What you are doing is called, “Subopitimization”. That word means that you are not taking advantage of things that could benefit you. Now, I don’t mind if you want to do things that sub-optimize your opportunities, that’s your business, but as leaders of the community, you are sub-optimizing my opportunities, and I don’t like it. In other words, you are wasting taxpayer money and I don’t think you know it or realize it. You are also wasting insurance premiums, which makes me pay twice. Now some of you want me to pay a third time by forcing the city of Mt. Juliet into the fire business. That gets my dander up a bit. I haven’t done anything to any of you to cause you to want to make me pay three times for something I only receive once. However, even if you do want me to pay three times, do you want to pay twice? I promise you, each and every one of you are paying twice (if you have auto and home insurance you are) for service you only receive once, some of you are already paying three times. Why would you want to do that?!!!

    There is a better way. You can work together to save us money and to stop the vitriol. To do so, you have to stop the chatter and the back-bitting and the back-stabbing and the chewing on one another’s ear and agree to sit down and work it out like mature adults. You folks aren’t even looking at the options you have at your disposal. I promise you this, if you don’t sit down and work this out you are going to not only waste a lot of money, you are going to miss a lot of money that you could otherwise have had. Commissioner Patton, if you want adequate services in your portion of the county, the best way to get them is to help others get what they want and need. I know that you may not understand that, but I promise you it is true.

    The issue that I hear from the county is that “it isn’t fair that Mt. Juliet doesn’t have its own fire department.” Those people are locked in the paradigm (a belief so strongly held that they can’t see another way) that says that cities have to have their own fire department because cities have their own fire department. Not only is it a paradigm, it is circular reasoning. People who practice circular reasoning are like Processionary Caterpillars. It is said that if you line Processionary Caterpillars up in a circle, and place a piece of food in the center, the Caterpillars will follow each other around and around in circles until they die of starvation. They are instinctive followers and don’t think for themselves. Folks, isn’t it time to wise up on this issue and find durable and equitable solutions? Nothing you do is going to be legal unless you really sit down and go through it with a fine toothed comb and make sure that you do it right from the beginning. The laws on this issue are very complicated and inter-dependent and you really have to have a strong working knowledge of them in order to arrive at a construction that is both fair and equitable and that is also legal. Unless you work together and come up with such an equitable and durable solution this issue will never die down.

    In closing, you have every incentive in the world to get together and work this out equitably, fairly and legally, and you have no incentive, unless you like to stir the pot and cause enmity between fellow citizens, to ignore this issue or to force your will on others. The first option is to fix this issue by working together. That option leads to harmony and cooperation. The second issue is to try and force your will on others. That option lands you in courts and lawsuits and creates disharmony and antipathy. You have to make a choice, you are at a fork in the road. which path will you choose? One that leads to growth, prosperity, harmony, cooperation, better relations, and a legal solution, or will you take the other path that leads only to places none of us really want to end up? Finally, think about who is benefitting from the current construction? I know that many of you think that Mt. Juliet is the one who benefits most, But I can show you that Mt. Juliet is at or near the bottom of the list of those who really benefit from this current construction. I can show you that using the county’s own figures.

    The choice is yours to make, you can have a working solution that benefits everyone and that is equitable and fair and legal, or you can have years and years of disharmony and hatred and acrimony and court cases and issues and sub optimization and loss of opportunity. To me, the choice is clear. Maybe I have missed something, but what can actually sitting down and talking hurt? Give me the opportunity to show you how you could have a much better plan and I will avail you of some things I promise you have never thought of before. You can use your term in office as a means to bring us together, or you can use your term in office as a means of driving us farther apart, but your time in office will do one or the other no matter whether you choose to do anything or not. You can’t avoid this, you can’t hide from it, you can’t ignore it, you have to deal with it, or you will be shown to be derelict in your duties.

    Butch Huber

  275. Butch Huber

    I’m still learning, after all these years!

    The county cannot legally provide non-emergency medical assistance through the countywide fire department. TCA §5-17-102 (9) Provide and maintain an emergency ambulance, first aid and rescue service;

    The county is only authorized to do those things that the general assembly specifically authorizes, and TCA 5-17-102 (9) only authorizes emergency ambulance service, not “non-emergency” ambulance service.

    The only provision under state code that allows the county to provide regular non-emergency medical service is TCA 7-61-101 through 7-61-104. Even if the county could provide regular emergency ambulance services pursuant to the Civil Defense Statutes (WEMA), it cannot provide “non-emergency” ambulance service under those statutes, and that, my friend, is something you can take to the bank!

    This is over. Ambulance is said to be an absolutely enormous percentage of the calls for service for WEMA. They certainly are not going to want to have to segregate “Emergency” response from “Non-emergency” response and have an ambulance service established under TCA 7-61-101 through 7-61-104 for non-emergency ambulance service and another ambulance service for “emergency” ambulance service. They cannot maintain and manage a “non-emergency” ambulance service under the Civil defense statutes no matter which way they want to twist it.

    This becomes more and more of a problem for the county the more I look into it. There is absolutely no way the county can legally justify what they are doing if the city has a good attorney to tear apart what they claim.

  276. Randall Patrick "R.P." McMurphy

    YAWN!!! For those of you who may have attended last night’s county commission meeting to see the presentation of the 2 mind altering miracle fire plans from the city of MJ’s own wonder boy Maness as I did…I hope you did not blink for you would have surely missed it. poof. It appeared that littlle jimmy gave his plans to Brother Fred “please county, take care of it” Weston. The plans were handed out to all the commissioners and before they could read the first 4 lines, the EMA committee fuhrer shuffled the proposals off to budget committee…of which he is the chair. Talk about the “kiss of death”…WOW! One might get the feeling that the county does not want a proposal on fire protection for MJ. Who would have thunkit? What’s that you say, ED?…HUGE STRIDES? Your depth perception is way, way off. I have been promised a copy before week’s end…stay tuned.

    RP

    “If you know the course and are not ready, it is useless”.
    Rita Jeptoo

  277. Butch Huber

    Just sent out to those county commissioners and others who have email:

    Dear County Mayor Hutto, Members of the County Board of Commissioners, Mayor Hagerty, Members of the City Commission, et al.

    You have a serious problem. I did not notice this problem until the past couple days. I have studied the issue of fire protection for a very long time, and I just picked up on this.

    The County claims that it is providing all non-fire suppression services through the County EMA and not through the Countywide Fire Department. It claims that the only thing the county provides through the countywide fire department is fire suppression, but not on a countywide basis, but rather as a “rural” basis. As ridiculous as that sounds, that isn’t what I am writing to you about. No, not at all.

    Hello, this is a biggie, so hold on to your hats.

    Bayless vs Knox county. That case established in Tennessee that a county may not do anything that is not statutorily authorized. If the general assembly doesn’t say you can do it, you can’t do it. Now, you county commissioners, and you, Mayor Hutto, either have to decide whether you are going to obey the law or not. You have a legal, moral, and ethical duty to uphold the law, and you all either took an oath, or you were supposed to take an oath, before you took office that says that you will uphold the laws of this state. Failure to do so is dereliction of your duties in office, and can be grounds for your ouster. I want for you to take what I am saying here very, very seriously. I am growing tired of the county ignoring the law and acting like everything that is being shown to it is wrong, when it clearly is not wrong. The county is hiding its head in the sand and ignoring what is being presented to it instead of taking the proper approach and rectifying that which is wrong. I am about to show you irrefutable proof, if you are intellectually honest enough with yourself to receive it as truth, that the current construction of Emergency Services, is not legal or tenable when brought under judicial scrutiny. I am going to show you how, if you are brought to court on this, you will lose going through the doorway to the court chambers. Here goes.

    If you look at the civil defense statutes, you will find that there are two types of conditions under which the county may provide active response services from the EMA (WEMA). One condition is during a “disaster”, the other condition is under “Emergency” situations. If you look at the definition of disaster, you will clearly see that the definition of a disaster requires the declaration of a state of emergency.

    (4) “Disaster” means any natural, technological, or civil emergency that causes damage of sufficient severity and magnitude to result in a declaration of a state emergency by a county, the governor, or the president of the United States. “Disaster” is identifiable by the severity of resulting damage, as follows:

    (A) “Catastrophic disaster” means a disaster that will require massive state and federal assistance, including immediate military involvement;

    (B) “Major disaster” means a disaster that will likely exceed local capabilities and require a broad range of state and federal assistance; and

    (C) “Minor disaster” means a disaster that is likely to be within the response capabilities of local government and to result in only a minimal need for state or federal assistance;

    When you have no declaration of a state of emergency by either the governor or the county mayor, you have no disaster. If you don’t have a disaster, you can’t provide active assistance under the conditions that exists. I am going to keep coming back to this one point so that you are crystal clear; the county may only do those things that are authorized by the general assembly or that are necessarily authorized by the sections of statutes. I am going to point out to you what it says about the need for a declaration of a state of emergency again.

    (4) “Disaster” means any natural, technological, or civil emergency that causes damage of sufficient severity and magnitude to result in a declaration of a state emergency by a county, the governor, or the president of the United States. “Disaster” is identifiable by the severity of resulting damage, as follows:

    Now, I have highlighted that portion of the statute to the best of my ability. It says that a disaster is something that “causes damage of sufficient severity and magnitude to result in a declaration of a state of emergency by a county, the governor, or the president of the United States.” Remember what is required before you can respond to a disaster.

    Now, my interpretation personally, is that the definition of “Emergency” as defined below, is referencing the word “Emergency” in the definition of “Disaster” where it says, “natural, technological, or civil emergency…”. If I am correct, there is only one, not two, general condition under which the EMA may legally provide active response under this chapter. I am going to, for the sake of argument, give latitude and say that there are two distinct conditions, one that is ‘Disaster’, and one that is merely an ’emergency’. I don’t agree with that interpretation, but I know in advance that many will ping on that so I am going to shoot through their basket in this email.

    Emergencies require the occurrence, or threat of occurrence, of conditions that present the likelihood of, or actual, “Substantial” harm to the “population”, or substantial loss of property.

    (6) “Emergency” means an occurrence, or threat thereof, whether natural, technological, or manmade, in war or in peace, that results or may result in substantial injury or harm to the population, or substantial damage to or loss of property; provided, that natural threats may include disease outbreaks and epidemics;

    Again, I have highlighted the pertinent part as much as possible so that you are unable to miss it. It says, “Substantial” injury or harm to the population, or substantial damage to or loss of property.”

    When you look up the word, “substantial” in the dictionary you find that the definition is considerable size or amount.

    Now we have to look up, “considerable”. Considerably means “notably” large or distinct.

    Surely, nobody reading this email could consider transport to a hospital under non-life threatening or non-health threatening conditions to be an “Emergency” as defined in the Civil Defense Statutes. Clearly, you cannot provide non-emergency medical assistance or ambulance service under the Civil Defense Statutes. Surely you cannot conclude that going to assist someone back into bed or help someone get up off the floor when they have fallen falls into the category of a “disaster” or an “Emergency” as defined in the Civil defense statutes. Surely you can’t believe that rescuing a single individual from a car crash fits the definition outlined in TCA §58-2-101. These are all things that the county says it is doing under the civil defense statutes. Surely responding with an ambulance to a child who fell off their bike and busted their mouth on a sidewalk, as did happen to my own son, does not constitute a disaster or an emergency as defined in the civil defense statutes.

    I am going to go with the thought that you all have logically, if not actually, agreed with me thus far. To not agree with what I have just pointed out would be intellectually dishonest in my opinion. If you are going to be dishonest in your assessment of what I am pointing out to you then you clearly don’t want to have a proper and legal solution, you merely want the solution that suits you.

    There is another problem. The county also cannot provide non-emergency ambulance or medical service under the Countywide Fire Department. The countywide fire department may provide “emergency ambulance” service, but not “non-emergency” ambulance service! see TCA 5-17-102 (9).

    (9) Provide and maintain an emergency ambulance, first aid and rescue service;

    Let me point that out again for emphasis.

    (9) Provide and maintain an emergency ambulance, first aid and rescue service;

    There is no provision in either the civil defense statute nor the countywide fire department statute for the county to provide regular, non-emergency ambulance…rescue….or first aid, under the countywide fire department chapter. Uh-oh. “County, I think you’ve got some splannin to do.”

    I will bring your attention to attorney general’s opinion 09-107 at the bottom where it says:

    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.

    Hello!

    The only provision that I have found which allows the county to provide non-emergency ambulance services is under TCA 7-61-101 through 7-61-104. Those statutes do not require the county to provide the ambulance service inside of a city and the city isn’t required to “let” the county provide those services in the city. The county and the city may, through inter local agreement, allow for one to provide the services to the other pursuant to this chapter. The city is also authorized to provide those services for itself and charge the fees and keep them.

    Let me spell this out for those at the county level in case I have been too vague. You are breaking the law. The law does not allow you to provide ambulance, rescue, or first aid service pursuant to either the civil defense statutes or the countywide fire department when those services are non-emergency services. The only place in the law where I can find authorization for you to provide “non-emergency” ambulance services is under the Ambulance Services Statutes in TCA 7-61-101 through 7-61-104. County, I highly recommend that you begin to cooperate with the City of Mt. Juliet and bring this all to an equitable and legal solution. If this issue is pushed into the courts, you will not win in a million years. This is so crystal clear that no judge could ignore it. Judges have professional standards to meet, too, and to rule any other way in this case would be absurd.

    I suspect that there really is not such animal as a “non-emergency” rescue service, because the term “non-emergency rescue service” would seem to be an oxymoron. If it isn’t an emergency, are you really rescuing me?

    If you unwind the ambulance service as they are currently constructed and provided you really have a serious set of problems. If you don’t unwind the ambulance service as they are currently constructed and provided you also have a serious set of problems. Oh, boy! What a conundrum? I think you are going to need some help on this.

    I have a solution for you if you care to hear it.

    Talk to Billy Rowland. Billy Rowland tried to fix this for you years ago and the county commission shot it down. I have a copy of his resolution around here somewhere, I’m sure I can find it.

    Here is my solution.
    Re-establish the countywide fire department with a new resolution, as if there never was a countywide fire department in the first place.

    Rescind and repeal all prior county resolutions regarding the countywide fire department.

    Re-appropriate the money you put into the Civil Defense budget into the countywide fire department budget.

    Establish a County Ambulance service pursuant to TCA 7-61-101 et seq.

    Place all emergency services, except for ambulance, back under the Countywide Fire Department where they belong.

    Develop an inter local agreement between the county and the cities that want to allow the county to provide ambulance services in their political subdivision. The ambulance service charges a fee for service to cover its costs of operations.

    Put enough money into WEMA’s budget so that it can do those things it is obligated to do.

    Now you have a legal structure for emergency services in the Unincorporated portion of the county.

    Establish fire taxes to cover the costs of the fire department, minus the ambulance service, in the unincorporated portion of the county.

    Contract with the Cities that want to contract with the county for inclusion in the Countywide Fire district and levy a fire tax on all property that is included in the fire taxing district, both inside and outside the cities that are included.

    That is your budget for the countywide fire department. Remember, the ambulance service is now separate, so all the funds that you put into the fire department are for non-emergency ambulance and first aid services.

    You will likely have to staff your stations with more than 4 people because the services are separated now, but then again, you should be staffing more heavily anyway.

    Be fair with fire taxes, or the cities will not opt in or will opt out if they have already opted in.

    If a city wants to provide all of the services, including fire and ambulance and rescue, let them also provide those services in the unincorporated portions of the county outside of the cities if they desire to do so. This mitigates the costs to the county and it helps bolster the services where they are needed most, in the densely populated portions of the county (this is not to say that one person in the sparsely populated area doesn’t need the services as much as a single person in the densely populated areas, it must means that there may be as many as twenty times more people in the same size area in an incorporated portion of the county as there are in an unincorporated area of the county). What you end up with is urban type services in and around cities, where they need that type of service, and you end up with rural types of services in the rural areas, which is appropriate for that environment.

    If the county is pushed into court under the current construction of emergency services operations in this county it will become an absolute nightmare situation for the county. You will lose before you even get started. If you have any question as to what the outcome will be, go back and read the attorney general’s opinion in 09-107. In fact, I will repost it here for emphasis:

    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.

    Don’t say I didn’t warn you if you fail to act on what I just told you, because this will serve as evidence that you have been warned.

    Let me point something out to you for your edification. If you fail to act, because it is your desire to obtain a benefit for your constituents, now that you know what I have just pointed out to you, wouldn’t your failure to act fall under this description?

    39-16-402. Official misconduct.

    (a) A public servant commits an offense who, with intent to obtain a benefit or to harm another, intentionally or knowingly:

    (1) Commits an act relating to the servant’s office or employment that constitutes an unauthorized exercise of official power;

    (2) Commits an act under color of office or employment that exceeds the servant’s official power;

    (3) Refrains from performing a duty that is imposed by law or that is clearly inherent in the nature of the public servant’s office or employment;

    (4) Violates a law relating to the public servant’s office or employment; or

    (5) Receives any benefit not otherwise authorized by law.

    (b) For purposes of subdivision (a)(2), a public servant commits an act under color of office or employment who acts or purports to act in an official capacity or takes advantage of the actual or purported capacity.

    (c) It is a defense to prosecution for this offense that the benefit involved was a trivial benefit incidental to personal, professional or business contact, and involved no substantial risk of undermining official impartiality.

    (d) An offense under this section is a Class E felony.

    (e) Charges for official misconduct may be brought only by indictment, presentment or criminal information; provided, that nothing in this section shall deny a person from pursuing other criminal charges by affidavit of complaint.

    I want you to know, I am very long suffering with public officials. I tell them what I see. They typically ignore what I show them. I bring it to their attention again and again. Eventually, I grow tired of being ignored. I ratchet up the volume and rhetoric. They typically continue to ignore me. At some point, I start filling complaints, which, unfortunately, are typically ignored as well, but that doesn’t stop me from filing them. Someday, someone, is going to ignore me and I will file a complaint and it won’t be ignored. Do you want to take the chance that “you” would be that someone who doesn’t benefit from the luxury of having an enforcement arm of the government that ignores misconduct and improper dealings in government?

    What I have shown you here is clear, irrefutable, undeniable evidence that you cannot provide the emergency service response through the construction you have developed. What you are doing as a county is clearly illegal. At some point you are going to want to separate yourself from those who are determined to continue to do things as normal and join ranks with those who want to do what the law says. I encourage you to begin that migration immediately. At some point in time this will transition from talk into action, and you do not want to find yourself in the unfortunate position of being one of the county commissioners who refused to accept that they are wrong. You have a duty to act on information that is presented to you. I have presented information that demands action on your part. You are allowing the misappropriation of government funds through the county budgetary process. You have a duty to sponsor a resolution or set of resolutions to rectify this situation immediately. I am not an attorney, but my layman’s interpretation of TCA 39-16-402 is that, if you know you are doing wrong, and if your purpose in continuing to do wrong is to provide yourself, your constituents or others with a benefit they otherwise would not legally have if you were not operating emergency services in this county illegally; or if your intention is to cause harm to the citizens of Mt. Juliet through increased tax burden on caused by your illegal construction rather than allow them the benefit allowed by law to become a part of a countywide fire taxing district and benefit from the economy of scale that comes from being a part of a larger pool of participants; or deny them the opportunity to participate in a joint operation with the county under Title 12 of TCA because of your illegal construction of emergency services; or if you deny them other opportunities they otherwise would have if you were not operating the emergency services in this county illegally; you would be knowingly and intentionally doing those things that constitute misconduct in office, including, but not limited to, refraining from a duty you are duty bound to perform. I asked you to take this email seriously. I hope you did so. Those of you who are hanging on to this current construction of emergency services in this county are risking lives in order to hang on to it and it isn’t even in the county’s own best interests to keep this construction. There is a better way, you just have to be willing to listen to it with an open mind. Stop being stubborn and obstinate, and open your minds and your hearts to a better way. Using essentially the same, or less tax money, you can provide the county with much better service than you are currently providing. Why in God’s name would you want to continue with something that is illegally constructed and that produces less beneficial results when there is a better and legal option that costs the same or less? There is no conceivable reason you would want to continue the current construction unless there is some benefit to a select group that comes from this construction that you want to preserve. Remember, that’s illegal once you have been shown what you are doing is illegal. I hope you do the right thing with this information.

    Respectfully,

    Butch Huber

  278. Randall Patrick "R.P." McMurphy

    Ok, ok, ok Mr. Vice Mayor, Mr. Fire Protection Point Man, Mr. Be All End All I gotta plan without the entire commision input or knowledge…You have put forth one helluva Rasberry plan. “I don’t want duplication of service, so I will buy a building, buy some trucks, buy some firefighters, AND GIVE THEM ALL AWAY!!! …and I will do it over 9 years at the speed of smell. Duplication of service??? You, my little friend, are the economy size Will Sellers…THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS DUPLICATION OF SERVICE…IF THERE WERE THEN THE WHOLE WIDE FRICKIN’ WORLD WOULD JUST HAVE ONE FIRE DEPARTMENT. Honest Question…Do you think the MJPD and the WCSO are duplications of law enforcement efforts? Think about, please.

    RP

  279. Butch Huber

    Wilson County is turning the safety of our citizenry into a political pawn.

  280. Randall Patrick "R.P." McMurphy

    Butch, if I may….They have been for some time and the city of MJ is fronting the play. A colossal screw up, either by ignorance or design, is STILL a colossal screw up. Voters and candidates…here’s your lesson, wise up.

    RP

    “Thank you for playing ‘Should we or should we not follow the advice of the galactically stupid!'”
    Lt. Daniel Kaffee, A Few Good Men, as played by Tom (Katie just took my sac) Cruise

  281. Butch Huber

    The city of Mt. Juliet seems to have reached an impasse with the county. They county is basically saying, “We might be interested in running the department for you if you will let us have all of the equipment you purchase for the county, and use your building, and you pay for all the personnel costs, and if you let us use your equipment, manpower, and buildings to provide services to the rest of the county, and if you buy us a quint and if you buy us an ambulance, and if you say pretty, pretty please with sugar on top, but we aren’t making any promises.” Meanwhile, they want to continue to take money from us to pay for things for the rest of the county. During the entire time, the county, not the city, is 100% responsible for ensuring that the citizens of Mt. Juliet and the surrounding area have adequate protection. The city can’t get anywhere with the county, and they have a county that is illegally operating its services in this city and they are doing it flagrantly and with a very obstinate attitude. I am finally at a point where Bobby Franklin was years ago, the city should fold its arms and tell the county to pack sand. They should direct all calls regarding ambulance, rescue, and fire to the county mayor. If the county is going to tax us, and not provide the service, the people of this city need to do something about it. If this city gets involved at this point all they will do is seal the deal the county has whereby it abuses us without even being bashful about it. I ultimately think the city needs to start its own fire department, but only after the county has agreed to stop abusing us and the only way that that will happen is through citizen action and legal action both by the city and the citizens. The county has become about as stubborn as a mule over this issue. The idiots who are pushing this issue at the county level would rather increase the costs of the county provided that they cause us to spend millions of dollars each year needlessly. The fault is with the idiots on the county commission who are so arrogant and so stubborn and so pig headed and so mean as to allow people to be endangered just so that they can carry out their own personal vendetta against the people of this city who have never done a damned thing to them. The ones who are behind this are horse’s asses and they need to be drug out into the light so that people can see just how vile and nasty they are and so that people can see how badly they need to be replaced. We can attack James Maness, but really, he is the only one elected official that I know of in this entire county who is actually working hard to come to some reasonable conclusion on this issue. To the rest, this is a game. This is a financial shell game and a political game, and it needs to stop.

  282. Randall Patrick "R.P." McMurphy

    Butch, I agree wholeheartedly with what you have assesed with the exception of the following…James may be working hard, but his conclusion on this issue is NOT reasonable. This proposal is not viable. The response from the county will be embarassing. He is right in his statement…”we are complicating something simple.”

    RP

  283. Shawn Donovan

    For the readers of Radio Free interested in the fire protection issue. I know I haven’t seen this study until today.

    http://www.mtas.tennessee.edu/KnowledgeBase.nsf/1eeffdc6080866a885257936005b10b4/bc9427dffc3715dd85257990004bd0fd/$FILE/Mt.%20Juliet%20fire%20study.PDF

  284. Butch Huber

    RP, I will fill you in one day, I promise. James is a good guy, you just don’t know the rest of the story. I am asking you to trust me in regard to him and give him a little latitude. You will see why as soon as I am able to tell you what’s up. You know how hard I am on errant politicians, you know if I felt he was no good I would be on him like stink on…

  285. Butch Huber

    Shawn, 197 fire emergencies in 2010. If we were to spend three million on fire suppression, like Lebanon does, we would spend $15 thousand dollars per fire call. That’s a lot of money to spend when WEMA will be right here anyway!

  286. Butch Huber

    Isn’t that amazing, Shawn? Every single study that has been done says that the county and the city should work together to save money and improve results, but the county is intransigent. They will not be satisfied until we are spending $3 million per year. “By God, that’s the way Lebanon does it, that’s the way you are going to do it in Mt. Juliet.”

    I wonder how much Lebanon has paid for its services it has received from the county over the years. That should be the next study.

  287. Randall Patrick "R.P." McMurphy

    Brother Butch, my friend, we are going to have to agree to disagree on the subject matter that is James Maness. Repeatedly presenting a regurgitated plan that simply shows changing the THE’s to the’s and the A’s to a’s does not represent hard work or good faith. By now he and the rest of the city leaders should know just how far up their collective asses the county wants them to shove their leg humping plans. And that little parting shot he gave them last night with that little smirk of a smile telling them “the city can also boot you out of station #3 is negligent toward your safety and that of your family/friends. It was a show…but the county commissioners left last night KNOWING they had just wasted 2 1/2 hours. I believe you believe what you are telling me and I wish I had it in me to take what you have said about him at face value…but after what I witnessed last night, I do not. Ed may need to consider getting himself a new point man…this one’s huge strides are going to cost him.

    RP

  288. Butch Huber

    Randall, the city has really exhausted about all that it can in regard to this issue. I agree with you that the city hasn’t done enough to address this issue. I don’t disagree with you that much more could have been done. They have been looking for a political solution to a legal issue. Everyone knows that I have been pushing them for a long time to take this to the mats legally. I have encouraged them to even take the million dollars plus that we paid in property taxes and use whatever amount of it that they need to to wear this county out inside the judicial court system and in the court of public opinion.

    RP, you have to remember that the county has said that it is no longer under any obligation in regard to the interlocal agreement between Mt. Juliet and the county. Part of that agreement was the provision of our building for a rent of $1 per year. If that agreement is no longer in play, then neither is the building. The county, not the city, is playing a game with our safety. The county is still responsible for providing fire protection services to this area, including inside of Mt. Juliet, pursuant to its own resolution and pursuant to the law. If the county wants to deal with the fall-out and lawsuits and other issues, that’s on them. This city has provided over a million dollars in direct and indirect payments to the county for its provision of services to this city, and we have paid upwards of $1.5 million in fire taxes, as well as several million in adequate facilities taxes, and we have purchased land, and we have offered to build a building, and we have offered to purchase more equipment, and we have worked to supply volunteers, spending $100 grand on that, while in all of that time, what has Lebanon done? From what I can see, they have done nothing. We provide the county with 25% of its budget, yet we only get back between 19% and 21% of the benefits from that money. That means that there is a huge sucking sound going on in this county which is our tax dollars being siphoned from Mt. Juliet and going to the rest of the county. But that only tells half of the story. There are perhaps as many people living in this small little area of north west wilson county, meaning north of Stewart’s Ferry Road and west of Beckwith and Bender’s ferry Roads, as there are in all of the rest of Wilson County. The county is reaping an enormous windfall of money from the people who live in this part of the county, perhaps as much as 40% to 50% of its entire budget for that matter, and yet they don’t want to spend any money here to take care of the people who live in this city, but who are also county residents. Their attitude is that the money they get from this city is for those who live east of 109.

    From a fire perspective, I would say, go ahead and build the buildings and purchase the equipment and just hire our own responders and tell the county to get the hell out of Mt. Juliet. However, from a perspective of what’s right and what’s wrong, I believe it is time for this city to play hardball with the county and pin their butts to the wall on this. They need to take this to the limit or until the county breaks. If you are trying to negotiate something, and your negotiating partner has it in his or her mind that the only acceptable outcome is what they want regardless of whether what they want is lawful or constitutional, and they will not budge one iota, you can’t negotiate, you can only choose to surrender or you walk away from the table. I am advising the city to walk away from the table on this. The county took it upon themselves to provide adequate fire protection to all of the county, including in Mt. Juliet, when it established the countywide fire department. They asked the city to fold the city volunteer fire department into WEMA and in return the county would provide fire protection services to Mt. Juliet. The county says that the only thing in the countywide fire department is fire suppression. Fire suppression amounts to 1.43% of our calls for service, with only 197 calls in 2010. The county is asking us to spend upwards of $30 to $50 million over the next 10 to 20 years so that they can say that they “Won” against the city of Mt. Juliet.

    When you clear away the smoke, and you look at this thing as it is, the county is the one on the hook here, not the city. The city had a fire department, the county asked the city to give it up, the county took on the responsibility to provide services to this city, and now they want to have the city take on that responsibility for them. The city should fold its arms and say, “enough is enough.” Let the county make the next move. RP, the county is disenfranchising the citizens who live in the unincorporated portions of the county just as much as those who live inside this city. The fire fighters on this site who are after the city for not doing what it can should also be all over the county. If the thought is for the safety of the people, then the lives of those who live just outside of Mt. Juliet are just as valuable and important as those who live inside this city. If Mt. Juliet were to establish its own fire department, it would not change the conditions for those who live outside of this city one bit, except for there may be some relief in terms of response time for ambulance calls, but even then only if we did ambulance for ourselves. This is really a county issue being made into a city issue.

    They should put the ball back into the county’s court. If the county will not budge, they should kick them out of our station or charge them rent. They need some type of wrench to twist the county’s stiff neck.

    I do agree with you that this city needs to have an attack dog with long, nasty, sharp teeth and a propensity to use them, which is why I am strongly recommending that they hire a really good attorney who can assemble a legal case against the county that would rip their collective heads off if they don’t sit down and act right at the negotiating table. I am also making recommendations to them that they hit the county with a public relations and publicity campaign that knocks their socks off. I am also recommending that they take the county on in the General Assembly to the degree that they are able. I am also recommending that they start campaigning for home rule in Wilson County. If it turns out that we have more people on this side of 109 than they have on the other side, home rule would be a great way to break the county up politically. I am recommending that this city start going after the county in every conceivable way it can to break the lock on their stiff necks. Whatever it takes, this city should do it.

    Finally, what they should do is to end the blame on the city for the city not having adequate fire protection. That is a farce created by the county. It’s the county’s fault we don’t have adequate fire protection in Mt. Juliet and it is time for them to direct the focus where it belongs. If the county wants us to provide our own services, they need to stop providing services to Lebanon and Watertown and they need to stop taxing us for services they won’t provide to us. We can then develop our own service using the money that they were taking from us and we could end up with the best public safety program in the State of Tennessee.

  289. Randall Patrick "R.P." McMurphy

    Butch,
    Taunting the county is in pisspoor taste not to mention totally unprofessional. I do not want my reps stooping to this toilet bowl posturing. This is why James is NOT “my dog”. What I saw from him last night was shameful and he should be. You stated that the city has exhausted itself but say you agree that the city hasn’t done enough and can do more…???…please explain. Besides that I get that you want things right, I get that you want things legal, not to make light…I really do get it and I agree…but we have been rolling the dice on this issue for 10 years and all the while the city gets bigger and the citizens become more. I applaud your legal knowledge, you know I do, but I want something now because you need something now. The county could do it, the county should do it, but they won’t…OK, I’m over it. MJ should work on something NOW while you and others work on the legal and then when you and MJ are both completed, you can both tweek what you have to be right, sustainable, and true. My angle is when you (and I don’t mean you, you)wake up with an elephant between your nipples, was it wise to piss off your ambulance an additional 4-5 miles away? Ed may need to consider a new point man for his “HUGE STRIDES”. This ain’t gonna sell well Nov. 6… be a shame to blame the vice mayor for the current mayor’s demise.

    RP

  290. Butch Huber

    I will explain.

    The city has exhausted itself over trying to get the county to be pliable in this issue. It has not exhausted itself in what it could do in other areas, such as fundraising to raise funds for a fire station, fire equipment, materials, supplies, etc. The city hasn’t done what it can to win in the court of public opinion. This issue has all eyes focused on the city, rather than the county, and these guys are allowing that to happen. They could do a lot more on the legal issue as well. The city recruited 10 people to be volunteers, and they outfitted them, and that was the end of the story. Had I been king in this situation, I would have continued to build the volunteer side of the issue. I know those are full-time say that volunteer forces are not sufficient, and I don’t deny that or doubt that, but if the city had 50 volunteers instead of just 10, and if they had even 10 who were all committed and who all showed up when needed, this picture would be different. Heck, if we had a vibrant enough force, we could probably embed two of the four people in station 3 in the new station and run volunteers in the other positions, or at lease run part-time paid fire fighters and reserve fire fighters. There is a whole lot more that could be done, that they won’t seem to consider.

    The city could hire fire fighters full-time right now to augment the service the county has without committing to starting a fire department of its own. The city could be working hard on the state level to force the county to do what is right. The city could take the revenue stream away from the county that is our ambulance fees in this city. The county would not be able to reduce expenses, but they would see a significant revenue loss. That would be bad for the county, but good for us because we would have more ambulance service in this city, which is what we really need most. Yes, there is a whole lot more that they could be doing, but they have been exhausting themselves with the county trying to strike a deal and the county is simply intractable.

    At some point you have to pull out your nuclear option. I think we are coming to that time rather quickly.

    James Maness is probably over his head in regard to dealing with these guys. He isn’t a professional negotiator, neither am I, but I have a good deal of experience in it, and we need someone who is a trained negotiator with a lot of experience who is coupled with an attorney who knows his or her stuff when it comes to forcing governments to comply with the law.

    RP, to you, this is about fire safety. To me this is about fire safety, but it is also about a bigger picture. That bigger picture is about saving lives just as much as the fire safety issue is. If citizens cannot get cities to obey the law, if cities can’t get counties to obey the law, if counties can’t get the state to obey the law, if states can get the federal government to obey the law, what hope have we? We are a republic. We are a nation that is ruled by law, yet we are a nation, with many subordinate, or smaller components called states, counties and cities, who are adamant that they will not follow the laws that they swear an oath to uphold. If we are not going to stand up for ourselves at the local level, we have no hope of righting this nation. To you, that may be a hopeless cause, but if not here, then where? If not these people, than which people? If not now, then when? If not over this issue, then over which issue? It all has to start somewhere.

    I have presented the case that no matter which way the county turns in this, it is illegal. That doesn’t seem to resonate at all, and that is disturbing and alarming. This nation goes to war without authorization. It kills people without authority. It take our property and our money without authorization. We are losing this nation, piece by piece, and we are wasting precious resources that could go to the overall picture of preserving life on a much grander scale. Just because we have always done things a certain way, does not mean that we can’t change.

    I have tried to get this county and this city to work with TACIR to get the general assembly to change the laws to make it much more easy and likely for counties and cities to work with each other, and for counties and counties and cities and cities to work with each other, to provide seamless, comprehensive, coordinated public safety response and recovery. I saw an article yesterday wherein this state was named the number 2 most deadly state in the entire nation in terms of people dying in fires. This isn’t a Mt. Juliet issue, this isn’t even a county issue, this is a state of Tennessee issue, RP. This is endemic to the entire state of Tennessee, and Wilson County probably has the very best coverage in the state in terms of per person coverage. We have the ability to persuade the state to assist us financially and otherwise in developing a model county operation and to develop new laws that replace outdated and inadequate laws. Those new laws could be enacted to force counties and cities to either provide adequate levels of protection or at least ensure that they are provided and those laws could be constructed in such as way that they eliminate or virtually eliminate the political acrimony and battling that we see.

    I have tried so many things and so many angles and I keep trying, while people keep dying, and they ignore me. I have written to the governor, to the members of the general assembly, to the state attorney general, to the comptroller, to the commissioner of commerce and insurance, to the county commission, to the city commission, and to the media. RP, I am at a loss of who else to try to convince. People are dying. People dying is a fact of life, but that people are needlessly dying because of the intransigence of those who have it within their power to do something to stop it, is not something that has to continue.

    This city could approach all of the fire fighting organizations and unions out there to solicit their help. RP, please understand, I believe we probably have the very best service in all of Tennessee, or at least close to the best, and yet even you and the fire fighters in this county are saying that what we have is woefully inadequate. What does that say about the rest of the state? Do we close our eyes to their plight? Do we ignore them and just become satisfied with what we can do in our own little neck of the woods? I say, “no”, we are in for a penny so we are in for a pound. We can have better. We can have much better. We can have better, but many would have us not take the fight to the limit because we don’t want to upset 180 years of tradition in Lebanon and Watertown, and I call that ridiculous.

    Redundancy is desired, duplication is not. The county is trying to force us to provide “duplication” of services, I disagree with that, I don’t, however, disagree with calculated and built in redundancy when it comes to such jobs. The reason I don’t disagree with redundancy is because things happen that preclude people from being able to respond, you can’t always predict the level of need, and because responders die or are injured while doing the job and you need replacements. There can be an umbrella system in place that provides the level of calculated redundancy that is necessary to ensure that we can cover all but the most extreme, if not even cover the most extreme, conditions regardless of where they occur.

    A person dying in the most remote portion of our county or state is no less important to those who love them than the person who dies in the most densely populated. While we can’t afford to provide 100% coverage to all areas of the state regardless of population density, we can work toward ensuring that we have as much of the population covered as possible. Instead of working toward that end, the county just wants us to waste $3 million per year. RP, I’m not up for quitting on the idea of forcing positive change, but I am also not up for lying down for the county and letting them have their way with us either. I am not saying you are suggesting that we are, I am saying that we need to be wise as a serpent and harmless as a dove. The goal is not to hurt the county, but to force them to sit down and be grown ups.

  291. Shawn Donovan

    Butch,

    I have never been an advocate for a department that does strictly fire anymore. The fire departments of today are all encompassing meaning that in addition to fire response, they also do rescue, and emergency medical first response. The only areas that I would agree that a department should do strictly fire is in very rural areas that are manned by only volunteers. Lebanon may want to waste its money each year on paying for a fire department that does just fire, but that’s Lebanon. I live in Mt. Juliet and I want a higher level of service and have no problem paying for it.

    I

  292. Doc Cider

    As much as I hate committees, and there is ample reason to, it might be time to put together a group with real authority, aome knowledge, and a track record of making things happen. Of course politics will prevent this from happening, at least with the right people involved.

    The two public servants I’ve seen most effective at turning vision into reality are Kevin Mack and Bobby Franklin. We have some knowledgeable firefighters who visit this site. Butch should certainly be a part of this. A lawyer? Lewis Oliver is a good one.

    While this may be a dumb and unworkable idea-some of these people may have no interest whatsoever in being involved- it is probably as good as anything that has been done by the city to date. To make things happen you have to give that task to people who can do that.

  293. Butch Huber

    Doc, my sentiments exactly. I have been pushing for a committee for some time now. There are a lot of things that need to be done and we need a lot of people to work on them.

    1) Research and calculate the amount of money the county has taken from this city from calls for ambulance service.

    2) Calculate the amount of money the county made from this city through the fire tax in the 1990s.

    3) Compile all the facts, figures and statistics regarding the issue.

    4) Have a competent lawyer research the legal issues and prepare a legal brief and case against the county.

    5) Lobby the State legislature.

    6) Develop ideas for resolution of the situation.

    7) Identify need

    8) Develop a plan of action

    9) Conduct fundraising efforts.

    10) Hold hearings and put people under sworn oath and compel them to answer and give testimony.

    The list goes on. The City needs to approach this from every angle and put together a nuclear option approach to where, if the county remains recalcitrant toward the rule of law, the city has a battle plan in place. In the meantime, the city should pass a resolution telling the county that, considering that the county took on the responsibility of providing fire protection services to Mt. Juliet, and considering that the county asked Mt. Juliet to turn its equipment over to them and disband our fire department, the city is going to allow them to continue to provide fire protection services to this city.

  294. Randall Patrick "R.P." McMurphy

    Group,
    Is that not what Luffman suggested in his July 2 posted plan? Go back and check…that’s how I read it. Jamie, clarify.

    Butch, I agree with you. I would never think your efforts a lost cause…they have meaning to you and that’s enough for me. But you made mentio of it ypourself, people are not getting what they need during this time of litigation, we need something now…then when the legal issues are mitigated, THAT offering that is in place can be tweeked legal if need be.

    RP

    This is the great thing about the edit function on this blog/post. After re-reading Luffman’s plan (which BTW is a consortium, Doc, not a committee…big difference. Committee has a task, consortium (as I have come to know it) has a mission.) he has offered to pull together people that CAN fix this issue, not people that could…if they are lucky. No other candidate has offered such either in campaign statement or office,

  295. Doc Cider

    Having re-read Mr. Luffman’s post I see that he has already put forward the basics of the idea as well as specifics that maybe differ a little from mine in terms of how the group is balanced and tasked. Good to see good ideas from candidates for office here. I would love to see some visioning from all the candidates in all the races but I won’t hold my breath.

  296. Butch Huber

    I agree with you, RP, provided the “SOMETHING” that is being done does not preclude the legal solution form occurring. Often, once the pressure is relieved, the cause is dismissed. We can’t do that here.

  297. Randall Patrick "R.P." McMurphy

    Ditto and agreed, Butch. Doc, he is gonna need some help. Ed will get the push from the othr commissioners working their people. That is the edge the incumbent has…but rumor has it the people of this city want change and change for the better…they do not see that in keeping Ed. The lack of “huge” in his huge strides, the sex scandal, the sidewalk to nowhere, and now the rejection from the county for the umpteenth time…all that is hanging around his neck and visible from a distance. Not to mention the lack of vision in his pipeline…You know, you gotta ask yourself…Why now does he want to be the Mayor??? When the red queen split and spineless Jimmy coward out, he stated he didn’t want it…and yet now he does…why?

    RP

  298. Old Blevins

    The real laugher will be if Jimbo enters the race…but I guess at this point it’s too late to jump in.

  299. The Outsider

    Dealine hasn’t passed yet. Least with the infamous Jimbo in the race its keeps it entertaining.

  300. Not only has the deadline not passed. The opportunity to run for mayor will still be available for Linda Elam, should she lose the primary a week from Tuesday.

  301. Randall Patrick "R.P." McMurphy

    More trash and more regurgitation.

    “…you can’t go home and you can’t stay here”
    Leftover Crack from the album F@@K World Trade

    Don’t ask, I got it from my grandkids…they are …different.

    RP

  302. Old Blevins

    One might say “when” Elam loses the primary. I can see it now-all these disinformation mailers with “State Representative” crossed out and “Mayor” written in.

  303. Butch Huber

    Based on the flavor I detected in the city commission meeting, it seems to be the will of this commission that, if they are forced into the fire department business, they intend to take it all over and kick the county to the curb. It may be very expensive to the city, however, I don’t think the city has much legal choice if the county will not reconstruct the county fire department pursuant to state law. The manner in which the county is providing emergency services is clearly, “CLEARLY”…..”CLEARLYYYYY” against the law. How can our city knowingly enter into a deal that is with an entity that is illegal? The county has gone too far, and it seems to have lost its trading partner. I don’t think the idea that the county is building not one, but two stations in Lebanon is helping them at all.

  304. Randall Patrick "R.P." McMurphy

    Please vote Linda Elam, State Representative, and keep her anywhere but HERE. I’m “RP” McMurphy and I approve of this message.

    Now, on to more important stuff…

    My, my my, it seems “The Little Rascals” mentality is overtaking the “mature and educated” leaders of this city. You are not giving me what I want, (cuz I don’t know what I NEED) so I’m gonna take my ratty, piece of crap fire station and kick you out…I’ll show you!!! In an effort to “look good and tough” to the people, we’ll get rid of what little protection we have and…oooops! City leaders wise up and GROW UP!!! You do this and the county is still going to have to protect this city because it sits in the county in one of their zones. Problem is they will do it from way out east of Terrace Hills, way west near Matterhorn, OR somewhere way, way east or west on the old RR bed. What you will have done is simply INCREASE the response time for your constituents when the need fire or ems and possibly DONE HARM TO YOUR OWN PEOPLE. See, WEMA is all about response time; however, they get paid whether its fast or slow, whether you live or die. That piece of crap building they use for station#3 is NOT A BARGAINING CHIP. As an aside, why are you letting the elderly residents of Dell Webb renovate the building?…Don’t get me wrong it frickin’ needs it and I applaud them for wanting to even fool with the shanty, you probably don’t even know what shape it was in or what is being done to it now because you don’t go over to it because you are too scared to visit and find out. Shameful. Anyway, “huge strides” huh? We go from being inadequately protected by one dinky station to grossly inadequately protected by a newly relocated super dinky quonset hut too f@@kin’ far away AND without a plan or department to replace it with. My CARDINAL RULE of business…”never leap unless you have a place to land.” You guys are great…you’re like that Mayhem Guy from Allstate. Like farting in a phone booth…piss poor plan. “Huge strides…I’ll give it to ya, you are making “huge strides’…in the wrong damn direction. Jeez guys, get some help…you are really make me look like the sane one here. That voice in your heads…the one that’s telling you you’re on track…ignore it…it’s the ghost of ignorance past…Vote for Linda.

    RP

    In honor of Publius…

    “Look before you leap,for snakes among sweet flowers do creep.”
    –a Proverbium

  305. Old Blevins

    The idea is not to keep Linda Elam at arms length but still in office, the idea is to return her to the private sector. She may have been a bad mayor, but she’s no great shakes as a state rep either. I’m still laughing about Beth Harwell putting her on the ethics committee.

  306. Randall Patrick "R.P." McMurphy

    OB,
    doing in the private sector will NOT feed the ego monster that lives within the red queen. She has to have her face in the paper and on the tube to feel relevant. Besides, at last count 38% of us love her…forget that 62% of us do not.

    On another note…
    “If MJ desires a higher level of fire protection, such as more fire staffing in a MJ station, MJ should fund the entire cost for any additional level of service over the basic level of service Wilson County provides.” pg 7-8
    Jan. 2012 UT MTAS Fire Services Study…yeah, it the latest one you did not know about, but paid for none the less. “Six years later…the majority of the recommendations (from the 2006 report)have not been implemented.” City leaders, if you do not DO anything, this report and its recommendations will not change in a way you like…no matter how many times you use OUR money to pay for it…IT IS A WASTE OF MY MONEY…NOT A HUGE STRIDE I CARE TO PAY FOR, ED!!! STOP TRYING TO BE SNEEKY, YOU SUCK AT IT.

    I did not see humping the county’s leg for handouts and hand-me-downs listed as an option. WOW.

    RP

  307. Butch Huber

    R.P. The whole problem is, the county really won’t let us enhance our services under the current configuration. Even if they did, every dollar we spent to enhance would be spending money to enhance for the county also. We are already getting the short end of the stick in this thing the county is doing. Lebanon gets $88.85 worth of service per person per year, Watertown gets $85 per person per year worth of services and we get less than $55 worth of service per person per year. Why should we have to pay more? The county needs to step up the level of service it provides in this end of the county. Mt. Juliet isn’t the only place in upper West Wilson County that needs to be enhanced. The county is neglecting its responsibilities to the people of Mt. Juliet and to the people who live outside this city in the unincorporated portion of the county. We need to get the county to let Mt. Juliet take over all emergency services in all of upper West Wilson County, including ambulance, rescue, fire, first aid, public service, etc., with a good mutual aid agreement between the county and the cities in this county, and the county should pay the city to provide service to the unincorporated portion of the county. That way we get to spread our costs and enhance in an intelligent manner, and we won’t be at the mercy of the county any longer. The county can go to being a “Rural service” as they say that they want to be. The county would have to go to fire tax districts under this plan, though. If they don’t, then no deal.

    The city does need to act, but they don’t need to jump out of the fryer and into the fire. They need to work at it from every angle until a smart deal is reached. Unfortunately, it looks like the county is going to force this into the courts before they relent.

  308. Randall Patrick "R.P." McMurphy

    Brother Butch,
    Screw the current configuration…there’s more than one way to skin this cat…all they have to do is ask. Just as they need to ask you how to legalize what we are getting from the county, the city needs to ask the professionals what needs to be done in the meantime…because as you know, the need is now. Watching them sit on their hands and when they do act, act like beggars, is piss poor service. Ed mentions “high standards to increase and PROTECT people’s property values.” Yeah, like WHAT? That sounds real good, but so does the first fart of the morning. To reiterate, the county does not have to do anything more. There is not a legal entity that can make them. The county will not do anything more. They have made this abundantly clear in commission meetings and MTAS statements. What little the county Is doing (same level since 1982 in zone 3/MJ) is illegal. Butch has taken this all the way to the State’s Attorney General and received nothing in the way of an investigation. They don’t have to, they ain’t going to, and what they are doing…they’re gettin’ away with. So now what…hump their leg to submission?, beg and plead them into a corner?, or…wait for it…creatively bargain ourselves into a better position. Look, we ain’t gonna win this war…but we can win the last battle. Interested?

    RP

  309. Butch Huber

    RP. There is no doubt that they need to talk to professionals about what is needed. By professionals, I am not talking about talking heads, but those who are actually engaged in the provision of services right here, right now and those who are professionals who actually live in this area.

    I agree that they need to aggressively pursue this from every single angle they can, but at the same time, RP, this has been an issue for several years, it isn’t like this is a surprise issue. They need to act swiftly, but that doesn’t mean that they need to make mistakes that leave us worse off, which could happen if they don’t act appropriately.

    I also don’t buy into the idea that we can’t win this war. I think we can enhance everyone’s service in this county, and not just in Mt. Juliet. If they don’t do the right things they will end up wasting money that could otherwise be used to actually improve things. They can take a collective break in the hostilities and actually work together to come up with a solution that makes sense.

    Also, again, this is a county issue, and a state issue, but it isn’t really a city issue. The state says it has a compelling interest in ensuring that it is able to response to emergencies. The state mandated that counties be prepared to response to emergencies. The county established a countywide fire department. The city gave up its service to the county at the county’s request. RP, this is a county issue. Mt. Juliet hauling off and starting its own fire service in a knee-jerk response or in exasperation with the county isn’t the only solution. Those who live outside this city are also receiving inadequate service as well. There is no line on the ground around the city within which there is poor service and without which there is adequate service. All of us who live in upper west wilson are in the same boat. The person who lives across from the person who lives on the border of this city is just as valuable and important as the guy who lives inside the city and they are our fellow citizens as well. Just because the county is willing to sacrifice them doesn’t mean we have to abandon them…even if they won’t get in the fight with us until they realize that their service will disappear if they don’t.

    Finally, I am onboard with the idea of the city taking over its own emergency services. I just want them to do it in a responsible and lawful manner and I don’t want them to leave us hanging and I don’t want them to leave my friends who live outside this city hanging either. This issue is bigger than whether or not Mt. Juliet buckles and starts its own fire department. I agree with Jamie, we can take a break and figure this out.

  310. Randall Patrick "R.P." McMurphy

    Butch,
    We will lose this war…we have already lost and the L gets worse as time goes by. We will win the last battle, trust me as I trust you. You will get a shot on Nov. 7 if and only if Ed id defeated. If Ed is re-elected…then this issue will be put back on the shelf for 4 more years with what is done being way off wrong by ignorance. As far as who is IN or who is Out of the border…that is just the way the lines are drawn, but there are compassionate ways of dealing with that too…again, trust me as I trust you. Luffman has stepped up like no other candidate to date…he has stated a plan based upon common sense and experience utilization. He needs votes. You know I am hard on ’em…He has a good direction. As far as it being a county issue, until some entity can hold them accountable for the lack of adequate service coupled with a piss poor arrogance flare…then it will be a city issue to deal with the needs of the city.

    RP
    RP

  311. Butch Huber

    I don’t think you and I are at odds with the end result, we just aren’t focused on the same process. I am thinking of the progression of coverage as the city grows geographically and in terms of population and density and how that coverage will be provided. I am thinking of how to force the county into a corner so that they have to levy fire taxes so that the coverage we are paying for is the coverage we get regardless of who is providing it. We want the same thing, I think, we just have different ideas of how to acquire it. I will keep fighting from my angles, you fight from yours, and we will end up where we want to be. If the county doesn’t change course, it will lose this war. It isn’t a matter of any legal entity forcing them to provide adequate coverage, it is about getting them out of the way, and that is something we can do.

  312. Randall Patrick "R.P." McMurphy

    No, brother we are more together than it seems. I go back to the response you got from the state’s attorney general…the highest and brightest star in the area. If he doesn’t see fit to give our cause credence, then that may be just that. We do want the same thing, no doubt in my mind. I wish you the best, I just do not want you exhausting yourself or being dissappointed to the point of apathy. I am not sure I get the “getting them out of the way” point you have. Explain if you can and not give away too much…if not, them we will see…if it can be done, I got no doubt you’ll do it.

    RP

  313. Butch Huber

    Okay, RP. Here it is.

    In the upper west side of the county, which is north of Stewarts Ferry, West of Beckwith, West of Bender’s Ferry and north westward to the county line, there are perhaps as many as 40,000 to 60,000 people living in that area. There may be as many as half, if not more, of the total population of the county in that fifty or so square mile area. Said another way, perhaps fifty percent or more of the county live inside less than a tenth of the county. The county commission isn’t thinking like a county that wants to prosper and grow, it is thinking like a selfish, stubborn, stupid child who can’t help but be a brat. The problem we have is that they wield a lot of power relative to the city and they tax those who live in the city while not wanting to give back.

    There are many things we can do if pushed to it, including, start a campaign for homerule in the county or we can annex in a sizable portion of the county and push for metro governance. If we have homerule, we can reshape a lot of the way government works in this county. Another thing we could do is to dissolve Mt. Juliet and form a new city that includes a lot of the county that we couldn’t annex right now. I don’t think any of those options are necessary, but, as long as you have that arrow, you put it in your quiver and take it to the table with you as you are negotiating. Those are arrows that are more for show than throw.

    The second thing they need to do is to launch a publicity and public relation campaign that becomes a nightmare for the county. When the voters become educated that what the county is trying to do is for citizens to spend a few million of dollars every year on things that could be covered for less than a few hundred thousand, and once they realize that the reason the county is doing that is because of someone’s hatred and envy and greed, and once they find out that even those who live outside this city are going to be harmed by what the county is doing and could have actually had better service is the county wasn’t clowning around, the focus of the spotlight will turn toward the county. Once the public finds out what the county is doing is illegal, it will become an even brighter spotlight for the county.

    Then, as this moves into the court system and the county has to start answering some impossible to answer questions, meaning impossible if they want to keep up the facade and charade, thing will really start to heat up.

    At some point in time, everyone is going to realize that having the county cover services for this ever increasing density area of the county just isn’t feasible. The county simply isn’t in the right mindset to cover this population and they are not forward thinking enough to come out of their paradigm.

    That sets up the opportunity for Mt. Juliet to negotiate that we grow the boundaries of the city, provide our own emergency services, provide services to the unincorporated portion of the county, and let the county go somewhere else and focus their attention. We need to provide them with a great big juicy bone so that they will not focus over here and will instead focus elsewhere.

    We also need to bring pressure, as well as incentive, from above…God if possible, but the state government will also help as well.

    We want to get the county out of the business of providing services to this area of the county. Perhaps we need to get them out of everything west of 109 and 840 to the south.

    To do that we need to accomplish some fundamental things. First, all emergency services need to be considered to be part of the countywide fire department. Secondly, they need to charge a fire tax on the unincorporated portion of the county. Thirdly, the county needs to agree to pay the city to provide services to the unincorporated portions of the county in west wilson county. The city needs to be willing to accept the amount of fire tax the county charges on the assets in their coverage area as payment for the services the city renders to those areas of the county. There needs to be an interlocal agreement between the parties to allow all of this.

    One way to handle this is to put a plan together that is equitable and fair, in terms of covering this area of the county and let the county choose whether it wants to cover all of west wilson county and have the city pay the county its fair share of the costs or whether they want the city to provide the service. I think the county would probably go away. Either way, we need to get the county out of providing services in west wilson county if possible.

    There are a lot of reasons we need to do this, which I will go into if you would like. I am a little tired right now, so I am going to stop typing for a bit and just chill. Ultimately, in order not to be wasting dollars, either Mt. Juliet needs to cover all of west wilson or the county does, but it is insane to build a fire department just to provide fire suppression to twenty square miles when the county is already here and has to be here regardless. I prefer to get the county to move on and let us handle this area of the county.

  314. Butch Huber

    One other quick note. R.P., there are questions the county never wants to be asked in court. They know what I am saying here is true and so do I. The city is starting to wise up on this issue as well. The county is in a checkmate situation the day they walk through the doorway of a courtroom. No matter which way they go they lose, and, if they try to make their scheme make sense they are likely to implicate themselves in an intentional illegal tax and misappropriation scheme. Nobody is immune from being required to testify, which means all of the employees of the county could be called in to testify if necessary. The last thing in the world the county wants is for this pandora’s box to be opened. There are issues at play here that smack of scam and cover-up. If they ever get wind that the courts are a real possibility for them, they will start trying to go down the road to reconciliation. Accepting such reconciliation is the last thing we want. We need to get to the bottom of all of this and drag it out into the open for all to see. That is the best and safest thing for the citizens. My fear is the city commission will compromise on this issue. I want to see them take it all the way. This is a prima facie case and it is a precedent setter. All they have to do is let me set this up for them and they can kick this right out of the park. The county’s house of cards will come crumbling down, and then we can have peace county.

  315. Butch Huber

    The county is going to have to explain how the cost of fire as stated on John Jewel’s spreadsheet of $330,919.56 blossomed into $2,409,101 in the county’s annual budget and how that happened in just a matter of months. The county is saying that “Fire suppression” is the only thing that is a part of the countywide fire department. Well, John Jewel is the person responsible for writing the budget for the countywide fire department and in his spreadsheet he said that fire costs for fire suppression only was $330,919.56 and that his figures were based on the FY11 budget. Then in the 2011-12 county budget the cost of “fire prevention and control” is $2,409,101. How does that happen? Who is responsible for the changes? What are included in those cost projections? But that isn’t all, there is a spreadsheet that was sent to the comptroller that said that the cost of fire was $1,219,868. Within relatively the same timeframe we have a figure of $330,919.56, $2,409,101, and $1,219,868. Which figure is correct?

    There is also a letter sent from John Jewel to Fred Weston that says that the costs for operating station 3 are $1,265,133 per year. John Jewel’s spreadsheet says that calls for fire suppression, county wide, are only 4.52%. That would mean that the cost to the county for providing fire suppression out of station 3, which serves both city and county, is about $57,000. But the report from PFM says that the percentage of calls for fire suppression, at least if I am not mistaken anyway, from station 3 are more like 1.5%. That would make the actual costs for fire suppression inside this city are by far less than the value of the rent on the building we provide to them. It seems all of those figures leave out the fact that station 4 also serves Mt. Juliet. So, let’s double the numbers (which they aren’t really double), and let divide out for the unincorporated portion of the county, and we still have perhaps less than $50,000 of actual fire costs.

    Sooner or later they will be pinned down to a figure, whatever that figure is, and they are going to have to justify that number. Then we can extrapolate out what the city of Mt. Juliet is really costing the county. Then we can show the public just how petty and immature they are being at the county level. We can show them how, because the county doesn’t want to take care of the citizens in this area, the county is willing to hold needed enhancement of services hostage in an effort to force Mt. Juliet into establishing a fire department (just because watertown and lebanon have their own fire departments) and make us shell out as much as $3 million, possibly more, that we don’t have to shell out if they would only stop being so ignorant, and how the county, at the same time, will cause the county to have to build a new building and shell out millions instead of just working and playing nicely.

    We win this in the court of public opinion and we also win this in the courts of law. This gets moved out of this county in a change of venue. Disinterested judge, quality attorney, and a determined willingness to take the county to the mats, and we have a winner on our hands. The county has to levy a fire tax. We stop paying for services we don’t get. We start getting services we need. The county no longer gets the ambulance fees from Mt. Juliet unless they are willing to be nice.

    There are a myriad of things we can do. This isn’t over by a long shot. This issue becomes a real tar baby for the county, and the more they are forced to handle it, the more stuck to it they become. It sure would be better for them if they would just stop being knuckleheads and start acting like mature, sensible, responsible, good-hearted people. If they ever have to explain this they are going to look silly.