I was recently invited to speak to the Anderson County Tea Party. The following were my talking points. Critical documents are hyper-linked in blue.
Why Your City’s Financial Matters Matter
- Just about anything that happens (or doesn’t) in Oak Ridge has a direct tie to money, your money.
- Local government spending directly impacts your wallet. Think not only property taxes, but sales taxes, utilities, fees, permits, fines, etc.
- The growth or decline of our community, in very large part, can be tied back to how government spends yourmoney
- You have the greatest potential to influence local spending than any other level of government
- Population: 29,330
- Households: 12,686
- Medium Household Income: $48,716
- Persons Below Poverty Level: 16% (up from 11% in 2000) 2010 State: 16.5%
- Retail Sales Per Capita: $17,450 State: $12,563
City of Oak Ridge Financials
Revenues: $168 M Expenditures: $174 M ——-> $6M Deficit
- Utility Operations: $71M
- Oak Ridge School Budget: $55.4M (part of the $174M total city budget)
- Annual Debt Service Payments: $11M(~$6.5M pays on school project debt)
- Fire $6.8M
- Police $6.6M
- Public Works: $6M
Note: Utility Operations are paid for by your utility bills and not your property taxes. When utilities are deducted from total expenditures, total school funding, including debt, accounts for nearly 62% of city spending.
Debt: $186M ($6,350 per person/$14,693 per household)
Why Is Attention to City Debt Important?
– Municipalities across the country are starting to file bankruptcy; something previously thought to be impossible
– Annual Debt Service payments are subsidized by your tax dollars to the tune of $4.3M in 2014
Key Upcoming Dates
- 17th – LWV Forum for BOE Candidates
- 25th – LWV Forum for City Council Candidates
- 30th – Chamber of Commerce forum for City Council Candidates
- 2nd – Chamber of Commerce forum for BOE Candidates
- 9th – DFET Candidate Forum – both races
- 15-30 – Early Voting
- November 4th – City Council and BOE Election Day