At some point Monday night Anderson County government “clicked.”
At some point Monday night all 16 members of the County Commission, the County Mayor, the County Law Director, and I dare say a dozen or so department heads, found the fortitude to take a step back, take a deep breath, and plunge into the business of the county’s business head on.
And that says a great deal, to me anyway, about the leadership in this county.
The county’s business is your business. It’s the business of every citizen in this county and these elected and appointed officials took that to heart Monday night — at least that’s my take on the matter.
The 18.25-cents property tax increase that was passed and then vetoed by County Mayor Terry Frank may be dead. Or at least it’s not feeling very well.
But there is work to be done.
The grueling, soul-crushing work undertaken by the Anderson County Budget Committee — to take on what it has since January should not be overlooked — means more than most people appreciate.
The members of that committee were handed a 52-cent property tax hike in January and told this is what it will take for the county to operate fully funded in 2019-2020.
Twenty-two cents of that was needed for capital outlay projects so roofs won’t cave in on students during math class and/or the wheels on an ambulance or police vehicle won’t fall off when it’s en route to your emergency.
At 22-cents of the property tax rate, capital outlay projects looked more like maintenance on steroids.
And the Budget Committee responded. The members worked hard to bring a 52-cents “must have” down to 18.25-cents.
Now the members will be tasked to work a little more.
County Mayor Terry Frank knew 18.25-cents was asking too much — as did seven members of the Anderson County Commission who voted “no” to that budget.
In what was shaping up to be a fight — and there were some testy moments Monday (“testy” is kinda stretching it I guess) — there came a moment that looked like a “push comes to shove” type deal, but Anderson County’s leadership decided to pull.
Sometimes things just turn out that way. You expect big fireworks and whisky (in a bad way) and you’re handed sparklers and a soda instead (in a really cool way).
Several factors, I think, made this possible.
County Commission Chairman Tracy Wandell reminding his fellow commissioners — more than once — they all wanted the same thing, they were all on the same page.
County Mayor Terry Frank’s guidance in setting up a time frame so that Budget Committee can meet again and the numerous small legal challenges that come with redesigning a budget (or amending a budget).
And the commissioners who served on the budget committee were asked, once again, to step up will do just that.
It’s been a hard seven months for everyone involved. It has been a challenge. But again, when a decision was reached to look at the budget one more time, to take another shot at cutting down that 52-cents, turned 18.25-cents property tax increase, everyone seemed to rally.
It’s hokey, I know, but it was like watching a sportsball team down two touchdowns and a home run in the final inning look at each other and say, “Forget the score, this is how we’re going to win.”
Maybe we need hokey.
It’s not going to be easy. There is no “easy” to be found here.
Commissioner Shain Vowell probably said it best, “If there is someone here with a hat with a rabbit in it …”
Hat or no hat, rabbit or no rabbit, Anderson County government is going to conduct county business, the citizens’ business, and Anderson County government is going to scratch and claw to do what’s best for the people of this county.
Our county leaders have a big job in front of them — and it’s been thankless.
Maybe it’s time we all took a step back, took a deep breath and realized we’re all on the same page.
Ain’t that right, Mr. Wandell?