Loudon County Commission recently approved mid-year pay raises of $1,000 for full-time and 2% for part-time employees and hired seven new employees. Other benefits include generous medical, a pension plan and retiree insurance. The county employee workforce is 456 strong.

Why did commission adopt a budget and then proceed to ignore it?

Commissioner Kelly Littleton-Brewster brought forth a plan of increasing the hourly rate to $16 for 53 employees with a price tag of $266,288. The lofty pay hikes sailed through commission. Voting "yes" were Commissioners Brewster, Julia Hurley, Matthew Tinker, David Meers, Bill Satterfield, Adam Waller, Harold Duff and Gary Whitfield. Commissioners Henry Cullen and Van Shaver voted "no," citing procedures were disregarded.

Why did most commissioners vote on a pay hike that circumvented the budget committee and salary and benefits committee process? The county has no job performance evaluations and no nepotism policy.

County residents are conservative, but most commissioners are liberal spenders. It’s easy to spend other people’s money. Seniors have received zero or modest COLAs from Social Security, while Medicare insurance increases and prescription drugs spiral far past COLAs.

In 2006, voters overwhelming approved a constitutional measure; however, commission has refused to adopt a resolution and implement a senior citizens property tax freeze program unlike other counties. The county proudly announced a $10 million fund balance.

Commission should consider returning excess tax pennies to taxpayers and not use the money on spending splurges.

After a recent confusing commission vote, more spending is contemplated for an electronic roll call system estimated at $21,000. Commission also approved other wage adjustments to 11 county officials that exceeded $150,000.

Commission may be vying for votes from county employees, but other taxpayers and seniors vote. Elections are coming in May.

Pat Hunter

Lenoir City