Thursday, August 31, 2006

Cannon County voters may vote on 1 cent sales tax increase

"The Budget Committee wanted to raise the property tax rate by a nickel (in the current fiscal year budget) with money going to education and the general fund," she said. "But we knew we didn't have the votes from the other commissioners."

Cannon County School Board Chairman Tommy Hale said the proposed sales tax increase spreads out the taxes.

"It doesn't put as much of a burden on the property owners," he said.

A sales-tax increase will not mean there will never be a property-tax increase, Gannon cautioned. "It's something the people need to look at and educate themselves about."

Link

Excellent Blog for keeping up with Election Law

 

Sunlight Foundation doing a great job

The Sunlight Foundation is doing a great job of tracking lobbying and lobbying connections in DC. It is a great example of a citizen/blogger lead investigative initiative. They also have a great blog. Here are some recent entries:

Senator Lotts' Son

Earmark for Lobbyist's Foundation

Drunk Lawyer tries to splain his way out of trouble

Painful video from the Tax Prof blog (Highly recommended tax info blog by the way)

Univ of ILL to start for profit online "campus"

Link

"All three (exisiting) campuses have some distance education programs, but the university system is now getting ready to launch a whole new campus, creating an online division that could eventually rival the individual campuses in enrollment levels, operating in a very different environment. The University of Illinois Global Campus would be operated as a separate for-profit entity, have almost entirely part-time faculty members (and none with tenure), and focus on a relatively small number of degree programs.


The idea, according to Illinois officials, is to learn from a variety of models out there that are growing rapidly (UMass Online, University of Maryland University College, and the University of Phoenix), while also learning from some of the failed attempts of the dot-com boom, when many colleges started online, for-profit spinoffs with much hype — only to see them go nowhere.

“This could be extremely significant in the online landscape,” said Trace Urdan, who tracks education ventures for the Signal Hill Capital Group. The Illinois effort reflects a number of key trends, he said: the continued growing popularity of online education, the desire of many adults to study not only online but with an institution they know well, and the realization of many public universities that they need different types of models to compete for these students — while not promising the moon overnight, as some institutions did 10 years ago."

Bedford Cnty keeps new, lower certified property tax rate of $2.27

Bedford County reappraised all the property in the county this year. As required by State law, the property tax rate was reduced by 50 cents from $2.77 to $2.27 as a result of the re-appraisal. The County Commission chose to leave the rate at the new, lower certified rate.

This means that you could move from a $250k house in Davidson County to a $250k house in Bedford County and save $1,106.25 each year in property taxes.

Davidson $250k x 25% assessment rate x $4.04 per $100 of assessed value = $2,525.00
Bedford $250k x 25% assessment rate x $2.27 per $100 of assessed value = $1,418.75

Mixing Govt and Business is almost always bad

More efforts to "assist" the free market by government lead to corruption:

"In many ways, Rivero's rise and fall is a classic Miami story of an ambitious developer who benefited from the loose controls of a chronically mismanaged government agency flush with cash and rife with cronyism."

New: Google Book Search with downloadable books

Google Book Search

25 Gigs of Free Online Storage

MediaMax

UK-Mailman suspended for telling people How to avoid junk mail

"When postman Roger Annies told residents on his round how to avoid junk mail he considered it part of customer service.

But bosses at the Royal Mail - which makes millions of pounds a year from unwanted post - were less than impressed with his dedication.

They immediately suspended the 48-year-old father of two, who has worked as a postman for the more than 10 years, and he is now facing the sack.

Mr Annies decided to act after receiving dozens of complaints from householders who were fed up with the piles of junk mail dropping through their letter boxes everyday."

How the Tennessean editorial page sees TnTaxRevolt.


Yes, I was reaching to find a caption. Click on the image for more cute pugs.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Technology just keeps making out lives better and better

Progress

This could be big. Really big.

Last week, a federal appeals court ruled that certain types of court awards are NOT income.....so what? Well, the implications could be far reaching. The IRS has, like all bureaucracies with broad powers, assumed that they are pretty much in charge of determining what is "income." The IRS has always pretty much taken the stance that if it shows up in your bank account, they get a piece of it. The court said, in effect, back off.
 
Here is a brief summary by Bruce Bartlett in his most recent column:
 
"Murphy argued that just as compensation for physical injuries only makes one whole after a loss, the same is true of awards for emotional distress. In short, it is not income within the meaning of the 16th Amendment to the Constitution. The appeals court agreed, ruling that Murphy's award for emotional distress is not income and therefore not taxable."
 
[...]

 

Given the logic of the Murphy decision, it is quite possible that the risk-free, inflation-adjusted rate of interest could also be excluded from taxation on constitutional grounds. Following through on this logic consistently would revolutionize taxation and eventually lead to a pure consumption tax, which most modern economists favor.

 

I'm not predicting the Supreme Court will follow this logic. But for tax analysts, it does represent the opening of an interesting possibility."

Corporate Tax Breaks lead to corruption

Giving large corporations targeted tax breaks to "induce" them to come to your state or city is bad policy at the very least and at its worst, leads straight to corruption. The State of TN and many cities, like Memphis through their PILOT program, give away tens of millions of taxpayer money every year. The best policy is always to keep taxes low for EVERYONE, not just the big corporations. That is the key to strong economic development.

HERE is a great investigative piece by the St Petersburg Times:

"Enterprise Florida encourages the Legislature to create and expand corporate tax breaks and grants. It negotiates - often in secret - with companies that contemplate moving or expanding here. And when it recommends incentives for a company, the governor's office almost always approves.

The Orlando-based organization, which has gotten more than $100-million in state money since 2000, likes to boast that it is a national model for doing government work with the savvy and efficiency of private business.

As the BellSouth case suggests, however, another description might be this: a network where back scratching and self-dealing sometimes seem more important than its mission."

Death and Obit info online

Had no idea there was so much obit info available online.

I was already familiar with the Social Security records HERE (with social security numbers) that lists 77 million.

In addition, here is a new site.

Pigeon Forge Raises Property Taxes 17%

Pigeon Forge Raises Property Taxes 17%

Like many Tennessee Cities and Counties, Pigeon Forge used a re-appraisal to raise property taxes by keeping the rate the "same" as last year, before the new appraisals. State law requires taxing jurisdictions to lower the tax rate after a re-appraisal to a new "certified" rate. Once this new lower certified rate is established then it can be increased after a public hearing.

When you use the old higher rate and the new higher appraisals, you are increasing tax bills by the amount of the value increase.

More on the "HOLD" process

Senator Frist is interviewed HERE about the HOLD on S2590. Regarding my question below about how a HOLD is actually recorded, Senator Frist says in the interview he "can find out":
EM: Do you know who’s holding the bill? Is that something that’s within your knowledge?

BF: I can find out, Ed..."
He also says in the interview that a HOLD does not prevent him from bringing the bill to the floor for a vote.

Soccer players use babies as "repair kits"

"One Premier League footballer, playing in the northwest of England, explained: "We decided to store our new baby's stem cells for possible future therapeutic reasons, both for our children and possibly for myself.

"As a footballer, if you're prone to injury it can mean the end of your career, so having your stem cells - a repair kit if you like - on hand makes sense," added the player, who declined to be named.

Paul Griffiths, managing director of CGI, said: "This has been carried out experimentally. The stem cells are injected directly into the knee and because they have the same genetic code they start rebuilding."

Link

Marley Money


The Bank of Jamaica has issued 1,000 gold and silver Bob Marley commemorative coins!

How To Turn $5000 To $25 Million

...selling to babies

Most great ideas are born from a need. The Baby Einstein Company LLC based in Littleton, Colorado, came from Julie Aigner-Clark's need for a learning tool for her infant daughter. In 1995, this former teacher and new mom read the latest research regarding babies' capacity to learn. Finding nothing in stores that used the research and that was developmentally appropriate, educational and fun, Aigner-Clark decided to create something herself. Her first video, Baby Einstein, featured intriguing pictures and mothers speaking different languages.

Source:

Tracking your trash habits - UK

"The little gizmos are scanned as a bin is emptied when the garbage truck comes around -- enabling local authorities back at their offices to track the garbage habits of each household.

"A crucial element is the ability to identify specific bins and record when they are emptied," said a spokesman for Deister, a German company that is marketing the technology.

"That information can be applied in many different ways."

Link

Starbucks is a ripoff? We report, you decide.

Article from the UK Metro

"The marketing ploy is known as 'product sabotage'. This involves only large measures of drinks being featured on their menu boards.

Tills (Cash registers) have a button for the smallest drink, which at 8oz and a third cheaper is simply not listed to customers, so coffee bar frequenters do not know it exists.

The investigation was undertaken by Tim Harford, who presents the new BBC2 series Trust Me, I'm an Economist.

Harford said: 'The most lavish drinks generate the highest profits.

Coffee companies hide or downplay the cheaper drinks in the hope that customers will buy something pricier.'

Link

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Who keeps the secret?????

Senator Frist HERE on his blog congratulates bloggers for collaborating to smoke out the Senator who issued the secret hold that is preventing Senate passage of S2590, a great bill that has very broad bi-partisan support.

My question: how is a secret hold recorded and who keeps the secret?

TN Webcams - Murfreesboro Traffic Cams


The only TN traffic cams I have seen that have color streaming video. Link

Alabama public universities spend $610k lobbying

An extraordinary AP story about lobbying by the Univ of Alabama and Senator Tom Coburn's efforts to find out more about this corrupt system of political spoils where everybody wins except the taxpayer.

Excerpt

"The University of Alabama System and its three member campuses in Tuscaloosa, Huntsville and Birmingham led the way in spending with a total of $610,000. Most of that went to Van Scoyoc Associates Inc., a Washington firm well-stocked with former aides to Alabama lawmakers like Republican Sen. Richard Shelby and Democratic Rep. Bud Cramer, both members of the powerful appropriations committees that write spending legislation.

University officials said they were proud of their efforts, insisting that lobbying has been critical in winning federal funding to improve the state's higher education system and economy.

"The return on investment would strike me as being an excellent value for the taxpayers," said Kellee Reinhart, spokeswoman for the University of Alabama System. (Clearly Ms. Reinhardt is forgetting that the same taxpayers who pay State taxes ALSO pay Federal taxes) "We're a $2.5 billion enterprise. We are the largest employer in the state. The volume and complexity of projects for which we seek support certainly benefit from having a streamlined channel of communication."

Annexation Lawsuit expected in Rock Springs

"Residents in the Rock Springs community are expected to file a lawsuit against the city of Kingsport this week challenging the recent annexation of their property, this according to a Knoxville-based advocacy organization."

Source

Hawkins County Commission rejects tax increase

Hawkins County Commission rejects budget with 5 cent property tax increase.

Source:

Very Nice ZIP Code Search Site

 
 

Katie's new photoshop weight loss plan

From Media Bistro

Two good blogs on whats new in Mobile Content

Moconews

Mopocket

Update: Make that three

Personal Democracy Forum

Mobile is HOT with newspapers

More Newspapers develop a mobile strategy

"Figuring out the right models will come later, says Atwood. "It's early enough in the game that it's hard to say which models are going to dominate."

At USA Today, offerings include a WAP site, SMS text information and a mobile sudoku game. Users can browse a site with sections that include news, sports, life and tech. Or they can text a code for a stock listing and receive a return text with the latest price.

Just as with the web or the printed edition of a newspaper, what users look for in mobile content varies, says Matt Jones, who heads up USA Today's mobile initiatives.

"It's a combination of things. In the case of the game, people have some downtime, but for the mobile WAP site, people just want a quick bite of the latest news or sports," he says."


Bold riverfront plans intrigue mayoral candidates

Tennessean article from today:
Bold riverfront plans intrigue mayoral candidates

I am sure it will also "intrigue" taxpayers who are headed off to work this morning with the knowledge that their tax dollars are funding yet another group who wants more of the money they will earn this very day. Forget "Remember the Alamo", Remember the graph.

French rep wants tax on text msging, email

This article about taxing text msgs and email is typical of the continuing trend to separate tax sources from tax uses. Bureaucrats want to raise money and then find a use for the money, blindly growing the size of government. As citizens we must demand the right to say, "we have enough government, we choose not to pay for any more."

Article excerpts:

"Originally, Lamassoure had this to say: "The economic value of today's globalization lies in information through transactions in the form of international communication. Why don't we levy taxes on this value?" Under his proposal, a tax on an SMS sent within the borders of a member state would be allocated to the national government of that state, while taxes collected on messages sent between the member states would accrue to the EU. The same would apply to email messages.

Lamassoure also argued that in times of globalization, it is less and less easy for states to raise tax revenues. "I suggest this as an idea not only for the EU but also for member states themselves and on the worldwide scale," he said. He compared his idea to the "Tobin tax" proposed in the 1970s to tax cross-border currency trading."

Monday, August 28, 2006

Make sure your site is in the Google index

Google webmasters

The axe will fall in 2011 unless Congress Acts

Make them permanent or taxpaying family budgets will be decimated.

Greatest golf swing of all time?

Tiger

Its Official-The amendment will be on the Nov ballot

Just got word that the Davidson County Election Commission has certified more than enough signatures to place our proposed charter amendment on the ballot. This amendment is very simple, it simply says that if the Metro Council and the Mayor want to raise the Davidson County property tax rates they must first hold a referendum and let the people vote to approve or disapprove the rate increase.

The French answer to Blake Wylie's VideoBlog

Bonjour America - An explanation of French cheese and origins of French bashing. Is French cheese a weapon of mass destruction?

Taxes UP, Quality of Life down, and UHAULs headed OUT in NJ

"The quality of life is going down about as fast as taxes are going up," said Kuendel, 50, of Atlantic Highlands (New Jersey). He and his wife are looking at houses in Delaware, where there is no sales tax, no income tax and property taxes are relatively low.

He's not much impressed by the Legislature's current efforts to come up with tax-cutting plans.

"I just can't see how you are going to get relief in this state," he said.

Source

Vermont Country Store

Who knew there was a Miss McDonald?

Settlements costing Memphis taxpayers millions

Settlements cost city taxpayers City of Memphis officials have approved nearly half a dozen out-of-court settlements over the last six months that will end up costing taxpayers about $2 million.
"The city attorney's office, with the approval of the mayor, has the authority to settle lawsuits against the city. But about 18 months ago, council members passed a resolution requesting the city attorney keep them apprised of all legal payouts over $100,000.

Marshall, who sponsored the resolution, believes the measure gives the council the power to reject settlements it thinks are too high, although the council has never done so.

Now he says he wants the council to consider another resolution that would require the city attorney to publicly report settlements once they're finalized.

"All of this is done with too much stealth," he said. "It's the public's money, and the public needs to see what transpired."
Source:

A billboard on your back-LED textiles

'Swedish Model' of High Tax And Spend Challenged

Opposition Challenges 'Swedish Model' of High Tax And Spend Opinion polls show that the centre-right Swedish opposition coalition, which wants to cut tax and reduce state influence in the market place, has a slight lead going into next month's elections....

Source:

Cell Phones changing the way protesters protest

Interesting article in the WaPo about the use of cell phone text messaging by Phillipine political protesters:

"Cellphones and text messaging are changing the way political mobilizations are conducted around the world. From Manila to Riyadh and Kathmandu protests once publicized on coffeehouse bulletin boards are now organized entirely through text-messaging networks that can reach vast numbers of people in a matter of minutes."

The press is too damned nosy about govt business

Frank Gibson is Chairman of the Tennessee Coalition for Open Government. He has a remarkable article in the Tennessean today about statements made recently at the National Conference of State Legislatures:

"Janet Kleinfelter, "senior counsel" in the AG's office, had told NCSL attendees that the press drives government underground when it asks for too many public records."

This level of arrogance by someone who probably regards themselves as a public servant and is paid with taxpayer dollars is scary and appalling. Frank goes on to cite several examples here in TN. Very good read if you are interested in open and accountable government.

Some love for www.DoNotAnnexUs.com

Today's Daily News Journal editorial shows Craig Alea and his www.DoNotAnnexUs.com volunteers a great deal of well deserved admiration and respect. And if I may be so bold, it is another great example of my belief that the most important and powerful unit of government is the individual, sovereign citizen.

"While this should stand as a reminder that residents and citizens should register and vote, this group of annexation foes would tell you that, being residents of the county, they have no elected representation in this case. However, they have done a remarkable job of representing themselves."

Sunday, August 27, 2006

TN Webcams - Downtown Nashville from Adventure Science Center

Texas High School Football Coaches make almost twice as much as teachers.

What is interesting is that many of the educators quoted in the article believe the difference is justified. Would be interesting to see if TN has the same disparity. Here is an excerpt from the article:

"Head coaches in Classes 5A and 4A — schools with 950 students or more — are making an average of $73,804 while teachers in those classifications average close to $42,400, according to records obtained by the Austin American-Statesman through the Texas Public Information Act.

Those numbers are similar to findings from 10 years ago, when The Associated Press reported that 5A and 4A coaches earned an average of $54,000 per year and the state's teachers averaged $31,000. Adjusting for inflation, the gap between teachers' and coaches' salaries has widened by 7.3 percent over the past 10 years. The 1995 salaries in today's dollars would be $69,488 for coaches and $40,207 for teachers.

The Austin American-Statesman asked every 5A and 4A school district in the state for the total compensation paid to head football coaches and for salaries of their highest-paid teachers, high school principals and superintendents for the 2005-06 school year.

Some of the findings from the 461 schools include:

•Five coaches in the state earn more than $100,000, with the largest salary going to Ennis High School's Sam Harrell, who earns $106,004.

•The lowest-paid coach is Houston Furr's Cornell Gray, who earns $42,300.

•Art Briles was the highest-paid coach in 1995-96, earning $82,658 at Stephenville High School. However, in today's dollars, Briles' 1995 salary would be $105,926. That would make Briles, currently the University of Houston coach, the state's second-highest-paid coach, behind Harrell.

•Twenty-seven schools pay their football coaches more than they pay their principals, including Copperas Cove, where Head Coach Jack Welch earns $14,465 more than the principal, George Willey.

•The 10 highest-paid coaches in 2005-06 have combined to win seven state championships since 2000.

•Southlake Carroll Coach Todd Dodge, whose teams are 63-1 the past four years, ranks 36th on the salary list, earning $90,510.

•Football coaches in the state's largest school districts — including Austin, El Paso, Houston and Fort Worth — are at the bottom of the salary list.

HT: www.JoanneJacobs.com

Quote of the Day: "It's a budget, not a wish list."


"I'm afraid of running businesses out of Payette," Waters said. "Payette doesn't need higher taxes. It's a budget, not a wish list."

Source

Who pays an increase in corporate income taxes?

A corporation is a legal person, not a real person. The real persons who are affected by an increase in the corporate income tax can only be one of three groups. Those are the customers, the employees, or the owners or stockholders. So which one of these groups of real persons actually bears the burden an increase in the corporate income tax? The Congressional Budget Office has produced a study that indicates 70% of the burden of the corporate income tax falls on domestic employees. The customers can choose other vendors and the stockholders can move their capital to other countries with lower taxes.

TN Webcams - Downtown Memphis WMCTV

TN Webcams - Graceland

TN Webcams - Great Smoky Mtns


Saturday, August 26, 2006

Tax Bills of the Rich and Famous-Graceland

Thank you very much - County

Thank you very much - City

Have a look

Inetta the Moodsetta tells them what they can do with their minimum wage job.


The minimum wage law is legalized discrimination against low skilled workers. Anyone who doesn't have the skills to demand more than the minimum wage is unable to get a job. Employers must make a profit or they go out of business and paying someone more than they produce is a prescription for bankruptcy.

Most people do have the skills to demand more than the minimum wage but some are simply reluctant to make a change. Inetta the Modsetta's on air resignation on the American Rhetoric website is a great example of someone who gets fed up and refuses to work for less than they are worth. Hats off to Inetta.

Source: American Rhetoric

Dickson County Commission ties its own compensation to County Mayor's pay

"I knew what I was getting paid when I took the job and I thought that it was enough to compensate us for our time. Anybody in it for the money shouldn't be here," Loggins said. "I also don't agree with tying commissioner pay raises to the mayor's raise. If the county employees don't receive a raise the commission shouldn't."

Source: Dickson Herald

Washington County Balances Budget without a Tax Increase

"The Washington County Commission's Budget Committee reconvened Friday with some good news from Committee Chairman Pat Wolfe — a proposed balanced budget without a property tax increase for the 2006-07 fiscal year.

"With the cooperation of our elected officials, it looks like we'll be able to balance without a tax increase over the current $1.87 certified tax rate," Wolfe said.


Source: Johnson City Press

Five-cent tax increase proposed - Hawkins County

Five Cent tax increase proposed - When Hawkins county commissioners meet Monday a five-cent property tax increase and approval of a $70 million spending plan will be on the agenda...

Source:  Rogersville Review

Friday, August 25, 2006

Who owns that House and How much property tax do they pay?

Most Counties in Tennessee Re-appraise property every four years. When you receive your new appraisal you may want to check nearby properties that are similar to yours to see if the appraisors treated you fairly. A very good new web based service is www.Zillow.com. Its free and they even have a beta version of the service that allows you to use your cell phone. Read about it HERE.
State and County Governments also maintain online databases. The State maintains a site for most small counties HERE:
and the large metropolitan counties have their own online databases:

In the Photo Booth - A Photography collection

USAToday: Soaring property taxes elicit backlash among homeowners


"It's not just that the market is softening," she says. "Many people have put their houses on the market because they fear losing their homes. The old-timers are afraid they won't be able to pay property taxes that have doubled or tripled."

Anger over rising property taxes is reverberating in many states that do not already have strict limits. State legislatures and some local governments are starting to cut property taxes, often shifting the burden to the sales tax."


Source: USAToday

www.DoNotAnnexUs.com - Rutherford County Citizens in Action

Craig Alea and hundreds of volunteers are fighting an unwanted annexation of their homes by the City of Murfressboro. You can learn all about their efforts at their web site: www.DoNotAnnexUs.com. Also, for more information visit www.CitizensforHomeRule.com. Citizens in Jackson are also fighting unwanted annexation, read about it HERE.


Picture from Daily News Journal

Do ya think this could have something to do with taxpayers moving OUT of Davidson County?


Thursday, August 24, 2006

Mayor misses re-election filing dealine

"When elections roll around in Normandy in November, those wanting to vote for incumbent mayor Larry Nee will have to fill his name in as a write-in candidate.

That's because Nee was apparently 25 minutes late in filing his petition to run for the office last Friday, according to Bedford County Elections Administrator Anna Clanton.

Source: Shelbyville Times-Gazette

But they promised to lower the property tax!!

"(Gibson County) Commissioners increased the wheel tax last year by $10, but they pledged to lower the property tax rate this year to offset the increase. Instead, the proposed budget calls for a 6% property tax hike.
"The wheel tax wouldn't have passed last year without a lowered property tax along with it," said Com. Bill Foster.
Budget Chairman Terry Carroll said there were no guarantees the property tax rate could be lowered. "You can't promise from one budget to another what the property tax will be," he said."

Source: Milan Mirror

More cities consider allowing voters to vote on property taxes

Another city considers limiting property tax increases:

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Quote of the Day

"What's going on here is a move to take money out of people's pockets," he said. "Tax dollars are people's sweat and blood. This is real money; we're not dealing with Monopoly money here."

Source