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Lies, Damn Lies, and Jim Vaughn

Recently, County Commissioner Jim Vaughn wrote a letter which appeared in the Gallatin News and Hendersonville Star News as well as on his Facebook page.

The letter claims that if the current school system budget is funded, it will require a tax increase -- if not this year, then next.

Vaughn states that he was surprised by last year's tax increase -- but he fails to mention that he missed County Commission meetings on September 2nd, 8th, and 15th of 2014 -- meetings at which budget issues were discussed and the school system's budget approved. That's right, Jim Vaughn didn't vote on last year's school system budget, but he sure complained about it.

Now, he's claiming that this year's school system budget will lead to a tax increase. Maybe he doesn't understand the budgeting process because, as he told all assembled at the June 15th County Commission meeting, he hadn't attended a single meeting of the Commission's Budget Committee or of the School Board where the budget was discussed. He told his fellow Commissioners he was confused and needed 10 days to review the budget before he could vote on it. Not surprisingly, his fellow Commissioners, many of whom had done their due diligence and attended key meetings as well as studied the budget, didn't take him up on the offer to delay the budget vote for 10 days so Vaughn could catch up.

What he also fails to state in his rant about reserve funds is that this year's school budget uses $1 million less from reserve funds than last year's. He doesn't tell readers that year after year, Sumner County Schools, through careful planning and conservative fiscal management, has significant funds returned and available to be used for the next year's budget. Vaughn should know this, because he previously served on the Commission's Budget Committee.

Vaughn asks readers "how much is enough?" A tired refrain that reminds me of the time he wrote last year that the schools were doing just fine and didn't need any more investment. He was wrong then, and he's wrong now.  Jim Vaughn consistently fails to attend key meetings about Sumner County's budgets and then proceeds to write articles deliberately misrepresenting the facts so he can score political points.

Interestingly, Vaughn did attend some recent budget meetings. They were meetings for the City of Hendersonville's budget. That budget, which included a nearly 11 cent tax increase, resulted in a pay raise and improved working conditions for Jim Vaughn -- an employee of the City of Hendersonville. It's worth noting that the raise that benefitted Vaughn and others added nearly a full cent -- that's almost 10% -- to the tax increase the city recently passed. Vaughn will see his salary raised by around 3.5% while most school system employees will see a raise of just 2%. Jim Vaughn is more than happy to see taxes raised so he can feather his own nest, but tells his constituents to watch out for the County Commission and some phantom tax increase. Vaughn plays the role of protector of the taxpayer while at the same time enjoying the benefits of the tax increase that pays his salary.

Jim Vaughn is encouraging citizens to attend the County Commission meeting on Monday night so they can protect their interests. I agree. Citizens should attend Monday night's meeting and ask Jim Vaughn: Why don't you go to budget meetings? Why don't you support investment in our schools? Why don't you understand the budget process? Why are you misrepresenting the current budget situation? Why is a tax increase to raise your salary ok, but one that invests in schools not ok?

It's time Jim Vaughn was faced with the truth. His game of missing meetings and then complaining is tiresome, and residents of the 6th County Commission district and all of Sumner County deserve better.