While our city commission struggles and pontificates over things such as “how much shall we pay the new fire chief”, “when should we hire the fire chief”, “what kind of fire equipment will we purchase”, “who will provide EMS” and other such questions, ignored entirely is the gapping hole through which the county is sucking this city and North West Wilson dry through.
Last Winter the city commissioned a company to conduct a study of the revenues the county receives from Mt. Juliet in comparison to what we get back. If my memory serves correctly, we contribute 25% of the county’s receipts and they spend 21% of the money they take in back here in Mt. Juliet. However, I am not sure that is even an accurate picture. You see, the county takes money in from those who live outside of this city as well, and most of the expenditures the county makes in this area of the county are actually spent here or they are spent on things such as the Jail in Lebanon, etc. I think the guy who conducted the study did a good job, I am just not sure that the disparity isn’t even greater. However, even if you consider the numbers I have stated, it means we are missing 4% of the county’s budget being spent here in this city. That translates to about $8 million to $9 million per year that isn’t be spent here in Mt. Juliet! That, my friends, is a huge amount of money considering our city budget is only around $14 to $15 million. Can you imagine if the county spent another $9 million per year on infrastructure and services in Mt. Juliet? Can you imagine if they were equitable to all north west wilson county citizens? We would probably see somewhere in the neighborhood of an extra $15 million or more being spent here in this area of the county. Can you imagine what that would look like?
Now I want you to consider the time value of money and consider inflation. If the county was being equitable and fair, and was spending that money back here instead of in Watertown and such places, we would not have to pay city taxes to pay for those amenities and services. This city and north west wilson county would boom that much more. Now consider the growth that doesn’t happen here because that money isn’t being spent here. Now consider the tax revenues that the growth would generate. Now consider what that new tax money would do for us. Are you getting the picture?
This city should float a committee that sticks its nose in every knook and cranny of the county to study what they really do with our money. I am talking about taking a look at things like the student/teacher ratio in each of the county’s schools. I would personally be interested to see if the student/teacher and student/administrator ratio is as high in Mt. Juliet and the surrounding area as it is in Watertown and in Lebanon and in the unincorporated portion of the county. I would like to see where the money for emergency services comes from and where it is spent. I would like to see where the road money is spent. I think such a study would be quite telling, don’t you?
Think about what $15 million being spent here this year, and next year and the following year would look like. Can you start to develop an understanding of the real issue? I can’t seem to get this commission to recognize this issue. They are myopically looking at the fire issue and are knit-picking that.
Okay, here is an analogy for you, “you are in a boat, you find that you have sprung a leak and it is a fairly bad leak. You are miles from shore. You have nothing to bail with. I roll up in a boat. I hold up a thimble and a bucket and say, “you can have either, but not both, choose.” Which will you use? The bucket, right? What the city is doing is tantamount to asking for the thimble. They are focused on a million or two per year when perhaps as much as $15 million is disappearing from right before their very eyes. Let’s say it is only $5 million per year instead of $15 million. Can you imagine what even an additional $5 million would look like over time? Five Million per year builds a new Mt. Juliet High School Building ever 8 years. It builds a connector road. I builds a really nice library. It builds cultural centers. I builds a medical center. I builds an emergency services operation second to none. It builds a civic center. Yes, even just five million per year as a steady flow would be huge. This becomes especially true when you factor the growth that money would foster and the compounding effect it would cause.
We need to address the fire issue, no doubt, but we have to take a candid, sober and serious look at the lost opportunity that comes from what this county government is doing to us.