Tale of the Four Arches
(Mountain City September 6, 2016)

Plan to reduce overall costs and provide the best city services

(Mountain City October 19, 2016)

 The Town of Mountain City has help aid in the operation of other agencies within the county for many years.  Those agencies provide services to many of the town's residents.  These agencies include several that are operated by Johnson County government.  The agencies the town has assisted are as follows:  Johnson County Library, Johnson County E-911(dispatch service for Mountain City Police Department), Johnson County Safe Haven, Johnson County Literacy, Johnson County Chamber of Commerce (fireworks) Johnson County Honor Guard, Johnson County Welcome Center, Johnson County Senior Citizens Center, Funding as a partnership with Johnson County for Economic Development Services to recruit jobs for the county and city, Imagination Library along with a scholarship from the town. Tax payer dollars also assist the Johnson County Arts Council and FTHRA. 

Over the past five years the amount of funding provided to the Johnson County Library has increased 52%.  Funding for E-911 has increased 26%. A good question for city taxpayers would be is "For what reason would these two agencies be justified in receiving  these astronomical increases in funding especially when funding for the remaining agencies has only increased by a combined total of 5%?"  The only valid reason for such an increase in those two agencies would be if more city residents were using the library and while that is somewhat possible would mean an increase in usage of over half of the residents of the town using the library.  With the means of electronic books such as Kindle and Amazon it is more likely that library usage statistics as a whole decrease which should result in a reduction of funding if all things were equal among city and county residents.  Mountain City residents are double taxed when it comes to funding county operated agencies in the respect city residents also pay county taxes which are two thirds the amount they pay to the city.  An increase from the E-911 budget would likely be the result in an increase in calls for the city police department. However according to E-911 reports the amount of calls have remained near the same, certainly not a 26% increase as the funding would present itself to be. 

Many of the town's residents use the Senior Citizen Center, Welcome Center and utilize the Honor Guard yet these three agencies have received ZERO DOLLARS in additional funding in the past five years.  This is far from what we should expect from a Mayor that claims to provide fair and equal treatment to all citizens.  If you are able to put two and two together and figure out why these two agencies have been given over $12,684.00 in additional funding while the only other 3 agencies to receive additional funding were the Johnson County/Mountain City ECD partnership with an increase of $500.00 which has not produced any new jobs for the city as of this date, $300 to the Johnson County Arts Council and $1000 to the Johnson County Chamber of Commerce totaling $1,800.00 more for only these three agencies while neglecting to increase funding for the Senior Citizen Center which has seen growth in the past five years.  Use your vote to demand transparency in town affairs especially when dealing with your taxpayers dollars as well as TRUE equal and fair treatment for all.   

Talk the Talk and Walk the Walk......Here is my plan for a better city.

(Mountain City October 11, 2016)

Trail’s Delay Costs City   UPDATED BELOW !!!!!
(Mountain City August 30, 2016)


You may have noticed construction of the Goose Creek Trail between Highway 421/67 and the welcome center. The grant money was awarded for this project in the Spring of 2010.  Its original design was to provide an alternate mode of transportation through the community.  Now here we are 6 years later and the trail is being constructed. Not only has the delay in construction cost the town significantly more money than originally proposed but the scope of the project has changed to just having another sidewalk along highway 421 and to top it off a sidewalk designed for bikes and walkers with several light poles right in the middle of the sidewalk. This project should have been scraped years ago by Mayor Keeble since he obviously did not have the skills needed to address and work with property owners along the trail concerning right of way easements.  Goose Creek Trail was to follow the contour and “flow” of Goose Creek through the town.  Other than the section between the Ralph Stout Park and Bizzies which stood with the original design the remaining section is not even as good as what was already provided.  Also the town has lost unknown amounts of grants and free money due to this project not being completed. 


September 6, 2016


City Council votes to spend another $8,000 of the rainy day fund to sink into the Goose Creek Trail Project for bank stabilization under the bridge at Rite Aid. 


Town takes on Dry Run Water Utility Despite being Unable to Maintain its Own.
(Mountain City September 13, 2016)

    Having spoken with a couple of town residents about the issue of the arches a few years ago, I felt the need to clear the air (no pun intended) concerning the purchase, installation and sale of the “Main Street Arches”.  First , I think it is worth mentioning that I for one have never heard anyone that was opposed to the placement of the arches on Main street EVER. In fact I have only had positive comments about them from day one and continue to get questions about why the one was ever removed and the others not installed.

    My idea behind the four arches which were purchased from the town of Gatlinburg in 2008 for around $800. (The one installed is in the picture with this article)  The town purchased some Christmas decorations along with the arches to update our old pole decorations. These upgraded pole decorations were sold in 2012 and the old decorations were refurbished with paint and new bulbs at a cost much higher than the nicer decorations that were purchased from Gatlinburg.  The main reason for the sale was the fact that these newer decorations were heavier than the wire decorations the town has had for years.  Back to the arches now which purchase was brought in front of and approved by the entire city council.  However, after the first arch was placed on Main Street, a couple of the Aldermen including Mr. Keeble at a later meeting brought up an issue that they were opposed to the installation of the other arches and wanted to see the one installed removed.
   This was shocking as my intent was to use the arches to “put Mountain City on the map” as tourists would come to see the arches on Main Street which could be decorated throughout the year for each season. This would in turn help both new and old businesses and the town with new sales tax revenue when the tourists were here. That idea has been proven to work by the continuing talk generated even today. We were able to negotiate with Mountain Electric to install them at no cost. After flip-flopping on the issue, Alderman Keeble made a motion and it was passed 3-2 that the city pay Mountain Electric $500 to remove the arch and sale them at auction.  As Mayor I have never voted to cost the taxpayers money for no reason but Mr. Keeble and the other two aldermen did so with this motion.  I can't help but feel like one or two people that has never discussed with me their reason for not wanting the arches were able to convince the majority of council at the time that the arches were not a good idea.  We don't need representation that would cost the taxpayers money and represent a few possibly prominent citizens over the majority of its residents. 
   Now the reason worth mentioning the arches is the fact that I, Kevin Parsons, with my own money purchased the arches at public auction and did so for the town to actually make a $200 PROFIT from them.  While this added money to the town, no funds that the three aldermen used to remove them was ever recouped. If I ever make a decision costing the town money for no good reason I think the right thing to do is pay for it yourself and not at the taxpayers expense.   My only desire to serve as your Mayor Is for the betterment of the town, its businesses and residents and not for any political clout or personal benefit.  My ultimate goal is to cost you less money than any other town or city in the nation. 

    Thank you for your support and I hope you agree that we CAN DO BETTER than we are now and would appreciate your vote on November 8th. 

Balanced Budgets Should NOT Require Money from Emergency Fund

(Mountain City September 20, 2016)

It seems that when listening to candidates for any political race, we all hear a lot of talk about the same old rhetoric.

"I did this" or "I did that" and "I am not a politician" are some of the best lines because we know the person using these lines are actually more to blame than take credit for and Websters defines "politician" as: someone who is active in government usually as an elected official.  If the candidate says that they are not a politician and they are asking for your vote then I definitely would be hesitant to cast my vote for that person because they obviously are lying according to Websters dictionary.    

For myself I will not promise you that I will do my best and certainly I will not promise you that government is the answer to all our problems.  What I will tell you is that I have a plan to save the city money without cutting jobs or services and a plan to increase revenue without any placing any more burdens on city residents or its visitors.  

This is how I will implement this plan: We watch our spending and only spend taxpayer money for the necessary equipment and items that we planned to spend while preparing and staying within our balanced budget. We will budget for small expenditures that will give us the best return on the investment which has the best chance by promoting events which in turn bring visitors who will spend sales tax dollars here.  Also, I know there are some city employees who work tirelessly throughout the spring, summer and fall but don't have a lot to do during the winter.  I have been approached by a couple of those employees who have said they would like to help save the town money by taking a layoff slip during the winter when there is simply not enough work to keep them busy.  I see this as a win-win for both the city and the employee if they desire to do this.  We as a town save on an already out of control payroll budget and the employee still makes a decent paycheck each week and has more time to spend with family and help out friends.  As far as increased revenue without placing any more direct burdens on property tax owners we can first exercise the option of  getting a half cent of every dollar spent in sales tax revenue back from the state.  As you know city business owners collect sales tax in the amount of 8.5 cents of every dollar. If you ever buy something costing a dollar you know you can't pay 8.5 cents it turns out to be 9 cents.  When the business owner sends in the states 9 cents they collected because it is rounded up then in turn the state keeps that half cent while only sending the percentage we authorized which is 8.5 cents back to us.  Projected revenue from the sales tax local option with the half cent coming back to the city is equal to almost $30,000.   Its collected as our money so it should come back to our town.  While this is a brief summary of my key points to accomplish my goals each are easily done.  If you agree with me all you have to do is put a check beside my name in the upcoming Mayoral election.  If you want to know more contact me at kevin@kevinparsons.com.   

In case you missed one or both of my newsletters that were mailed out click on the link below to view them.   Thanks for visiting!


 In 2013 Mayor Keeble increased the water rates by 4 cents for each 4,000 gallons of water usage above 2,000 gallons then in 2015 Mayor Keeble authorized a 20 cent increase resulting in total a 24 cent increase in water rates for the next 4,000 gallons above the minimum used.  In 2015, Mayor Keeble also doubled garbage rate pickup by $7 per household a month resulting in a $84.00 annual tax increase to city residents per year. No reductions in service fees have been made by Mayor Keeble. Below is a chart indicating which Mayor cost himself and you more money.

“Mountain City Mayoral Candidate Kevin Parsons looks to be in “catbird” seat”
For Immediate Release: 10/14/2016


Mountain City – An independent poll shows voters are getting more informed than in the past about the upcoming Town of Mountain City Mayoral race which pits two mayors, one former and one current in a rematch of the last election held some five and a half years ago.  This rematch should have occurred over a year and a half ago but the current Mayor, Lawrence Keeble lobbied state legislators for the election to be changed to coincide with the November presidential election.  Former Mayor Kevin Parsons response to the change in election dates was that he felt it was good to save the town’s money by not having an election just for city voters where this way will split costs with the county. It's a shame that the money saved from the election date change went anyway with the wasteful spending that Mayor Keeble has paid out over these years .  Unfortunately, that reasoning of saving taxpayer monies doesn’t appear to be Mayor Keeble’s motive since that approach was not taken when spending over one million dollars out of the town’s rainy day fund when the sun was out.  If he would have been smart about the position of Mayor along with what it entailed he would have contacted our legislators as much as he did on this issue to get some things moving in the city then he would not have had to worry about me or anyone else running against him.  I can’t sit by and watch what many consider the worst Mayor in the town’s history take us back another four or who knows since he changed the last election date, this time it might be another seven or eight years if nobody ran against him. Neither we, our children nor our grandchildren can afford that.   

Many of the city’s 2500 residents had no idea about the shape or condition the city was in until they received and read two newsletters that have come out of the Parsons campaign along with a wealth of information about the poor leadership over city hall on Parsons website.  Parsons stated, “When I went into city hall a while back and requested to see the meeting minutes for the past five years I was shocked at how non-transparent the city has been as much of the information I gathered from the minutes were never put in the local newspaper or on the radio.  What bothers me the most is how a person could be placed in a position like Mayor to help the town yet his only help has been to tear it down.”   Transparency of government and open meetings are the next issues on the voter’s minds.  Many people say they find it ethically wrong and not to mention against the law to meet with members of a city council on the day of the meeting prior to the meeting to discuss how they need to vote.  Tennessee’s Sunshine Law addresses this issue but when you don’t educate yourself any about a job you have been entrusted with then how could you know but that still doesn’t make it right.   

The majority of respondents of the poll favor former Mayor Kevin Parsons as their choice for the next leader of the city.  Parsons has a solid lead from people who have said they were voting for Kevin because when he was in there before he really tried a lot harder and produced a lot more results than Mayor Keeble when he served as Mayor.   This is a true democracy when you can take a look at the two people in the race and compare them to what they did since they have already had the opportunity to do it.  The empty promises are now starting to show based on how poorly Keeble performed in the results. While Keeble states in his ads that he is not a politician, we already know that he isn’t based on his record as Mayor and not doing anything to help promote the town or help it grow.  He is correct in saying that he is no politician. With that being the case then he needs to stay out of politics. Not to worry Mr. Mayor, the voters in November will be sure to help you to no longer be a politician.  After all, it is only a year and a half past time for you to go home.    

Equality for Everyone?   Think again.

(Mountain City September 23, 2016)

Preparing balanced budgets for a business or government agency should not be dependent upon unreserved funds or savings in order for the business or government agency to operate.   During the years Kevin Parsons was Mayor of the town the budget was carefully prepared with emphasis on not using emergency or rainy day funds in order to operate. In fact those operating budgets for the town balanced dollar for dollar using zero dollars from savings.  In order to accomplish this certain line items from the budget had to be adjusted carefully so as not to sacrifice services that the town provides to its citizens.  

 During the past two years beginning fund balances or money used from the rainy day fund totaled $133,322.00 .  The amount needed for the 2015-2016 budget was $87,393.00 and the amount needed from savings was $45,929.00.  This is unacceptable because if you continue to operate the town's finances in such a manner in a few short years the town will be broke and revenue enhancements will be a necessity.

Not only is this a poor practice for any company or town to do the other is making budget amendments throughout the year after the budget is approved.  That is not to say that amending a budget will never be needed because amending the budget is likely since unforeseen circumstances require expenditures after a budget is submitted.  Un-audited Budget amendments made Mr. Keeble for the 2015-2016 budget year totaled over $600,000.   For the first time in recent history, at least two previous budgets submitted by Mayor Keeble were documented through audit findings from the state comptroller office to show a deficiency in his ability to prepare a budget by the Mayor per town charter.      

The statement from the auditors concerning those budgets reads as follows:

 FINANCIAL STATEMENT AUDIT FINDINGS 12-1 Significant Deficiency – Budget Condition: Actual expenditures exceeded the amounts appropriated in the General and Solid Waste Management funds. Criteria: State statutes require all expenditures of the general fund and special revenue funds to be authorized by the governing body. Effect: When expenditures exceed the budget, unapproved expenditures are being made. Recommendation: The Town should compare budget to actual expenditures to ensure that all expenditures, including grant expenditures and purchases using reserved cash, are properly authorized.

The town cannot continue to be lead by the current administration therefore changes to the way the town operates must be made in the upcoming election.  

Town of Mountain City Realty? We as citizens of the town should clearly not be in the real estate business. Mayor Keeble should have exercised the town’s option to condemn the Ramsey building and require the owner to clear the property rather than spend taxpayer dollars for the same result. When the town purchased the property an additional cost was added for asbestos removal.  A steel frame structure at the back part of the property behind the Fire Department should have been kept by the city to store police vehicles to protect them from the elements. Instead it was disassembled and re-used by the demolition company as an added bonus.  This is a text book definition of a government official mismanaging  public funds. 


 

 

 

 
Pete Ramsey opened his first five and dime store on November 22, 1940 and built the Ramsey building as it was known in 1946.  Ramseys closed its doors in October 1988.  While Mayor Keeble said he had been concerned about the condition of the building for several years finally resulted in the use of public funds to purchase the property.  While he is known for flip-flopping on different issues it was not surprising that he stated in an open meeting in 2013 that he is not interested in getting the town to buy the building, nor in creating a park at the site if it is eventually torn down.  A few months later Keeble proposed buying the building only if the farmers market would be interested in locating on the lot after the building was demolished but then decided to buy the building with no real direction for the lot afterwards.  His reason for the purchase was that the time and cost involved in litigation with the property owner far outweighed the cost of the town purchasing the property which neared $100,000.  The city could have exercised its option under the town's ordinance laws and had the same result but without spending any money on the property as any litigation costs would have been paid by the property owner and not the town. This type of argument by the Mayor only shows his total ignorance of the town's codes and ordinances. Not only did the town waste money on the purchase but the annual revenue from the property tax was also removed from books as the town is exempt from paying property taxes and is likely to be stuck with this property for a long time.

Fair Rate Increases? 
(Mountain City September 2, 2016)

Property Purchase Bad Deal for City
(Mountain City September 9, 2016)

for town of mountain city mayor november 8, 2016

For the past 5+ years Mayor Keeble has been wearing the apron while cooking up A FRESH crock of "Poor Taxpayer's Stew" on the first Tuesday of each month. 
Serves : 1
Cost to Prepare:  Approximately $24,000.00
Ingredients: 
1- long time city recorder,  
1- new city recorder, 
1- new Mayor, 
1- Monthly Health Insurance Premium, 
$100/week for 1 year, 
$200/week for 1 year.
First remove long time city recorder (a great asset to the town and good person) in April 2011, add new Mayor and a new city recorder (a long term assistant to the previous city recorder who was and is more than capable of performing the job), pay previous city recorder's health insurance until they turn 65 in April of 2012 plus $100/week as a "retainer" to be "on call" if the Mayor had questions for the previous recorder when needed, then in April of 2012 remove paid insurance and increase "retainer" to $200 a week until April 2013.  Prepare with your taxpayer dollars. 



*The point being is the Mayor should not have spent this amount of money because the new city recorder knew the job and he should have put more faith in the new recorder to answer questions about the operations of the town.  If the Mayor had been more involved in his position while serving on city council then he would have already known many of the answers to questions he would ask of the former recorder.  Again, the issue here is not the new or former city recorders, its the Mayor for not educating himself on the workings of the town.  Since the Mayor did call upon the former city recorder, it is certainly justified that he be compensated for dealing with the Mayor and the retainer fee paid to him was the right and fair thing to do.  The only way paying the retainer fee would have been the wrong thing to do is if the Mayor didn't call on him which wasn't the case and again you should find no fault in the former recorder accepting this retainer fee as he certainly earned it answering all the Mayor's questions.   

 

My plan to save tax payer money while still providing the best service is a simple yet effective one.  In order to get the town going in the right direction the city has to break away from the current reactive approach that just isn’t working and take on a more proactive approach in its daily operations to make a positive change.  Sales tax revenue continues to decline year after year due to the fact there is not much in town for people to spend their money.  We need to take every opportunity to attract specialty businesses and events to give people from within the county and surrounding areas a reason to come to town.  That in turn will start pumping money in the local economy for our business owners who will keep that money here when making purchases at other local businesses.  The city will then benefit from the additional sales tax revenue coming into the city for maintenance of our roads and much needed funding for other services as well. For a minimum investment of the town’s employees and a small amount of money for promoting these new opportunities which will continue to give back year after year.  My vision is that the town can see a huge return in its initial investment with little effort or money needed each year thereafter. 

In order to implement my plan, we will need to organize volunteers to work with city employees to spearhead events, businesses and festivals that will bring the additional revenue necessary to be able to then cut burdensome property tax rates and garbage fees yet still provide the best police and fire protection, the best streets and the best community services programs. My plan will also see that new businesses and jobs are added here too.  Volunteer groups that have achieved great success in organizing huge projects like the community center and Heritage Hall are ready to tackle new projects to help implement my plan.  We just need your vote to make it happen. I have the experience and record to be able to recruit and attract new businesses here as I was able to bring in Cool Springs Nursery and Little Caesars Pizza and was able to answer questions and help other businesses that have located here in the past ten years.  If given the opportunity to serve as your Mayor I will work to make you proud to call Mountain City your hometown and I will work relentlessly to help provide opportunities for our children and their children to live and raise their families here in the best town in the state.  


There was a property tax increase voted on by every member of the city council in 2007 including BOTH candidates for mayor.  This was the first time in almost 30 years for an increase in the property tax rate.  In an effort to balance the amount of revenue coming from city residents, Mayor Parsons reduced in city water rates for customers to an amount that almost offset the amount of money residents were paying out annually to the city.  This in effect created a very minimum increase in the amount each resident paid. It is also worth mentioning that while the rate increase that occurred in 2007 was minimal compared to the increases under Keeble, over 11.5 miles of road were resurfaced, a new fire truck, street sweeper, city hall update and makover to both the exterior and interior parts of the building, disc golf course, skatepark upgrade and more was accomplished so you could see where the extra money was being spent.  What have you noticed over the last 5 1/2 years that has changed to help improve the landscape and financial status of the town, its businesses and residential areas?  

Details are still sketchy at best and rightfully so as the Mayor has continued to not be very open about the dealings of the town with its residents. However in the August meeting minutes, Mayor Keeble obligated the town to take over the Dry Run Utility District.  The town should be taking care of the problems with its current system before tackling an additional water utility which due to the geography of the land and the age of the pipes in the ground are known to have a large percentage of unaccounted for water loss. Water losses in the current system will be out of compliance next year.  The current reactive approach by the Mayor will cause bigger problems for the town's utility customers. Knowing this there are still no future plans being made by the Mayor to get the system in compliance. The agency with jurisdiction over water loss reporting is the Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury Water & Wastewater Financing Board per House Bill 743, which addresses unaccounted-for water.  Simply, unaccounted-for water is the difference between the amount of water pumped from the water plant plus water or purchased from another utility and the amount of water sold by the utility to customers or otherwise accounted for. This difference is the unaccounted-for water, and it is expressed as a percentage. If no actions or plans are made and the water loss by the town continues outside the allowable percent, the state can and will take over a system as directed by the law which will result in higher rates and fees to its customers. The Utility Management Review Board and the Water and Wastewater Financing Board began requiring utility districts, cities and other water systems to use a water loss evaluation tool developed by the American Water Works Association (AWWA). This tool produces a number of performance indicators and calculates a “validity score” based on information entered by system personnel. The Town's validity score has averaged 72 the past three years which is within guidelines through 2016.  Dry Run Utility District has not filed the most recent required report so that score is not known.


A water system is deemed to have excessive water loss if it does not comply with the parameters for the applicable year the schedule is submitted:

Validity Score of 65 or less (1/1/2013 to 12/31/2014)

70 or less (1/1/2015 to 12/31/2016)

75 or less (1/1/2017 to 12/31/2018)

80 or less (1/1/2019 to 12/31/2020) 


The town's leader should be proactive and address this issue now rather than wait for matters to fall into the hands of the state which will have no regard for the utility's customers means or ways to pay higher rates to get the system in compliance.