Name Melissa Miles
District 8
Current Occupation & Employer
Political Experience RNC Delegate, Chairman Young Republican Rutherford County, Congressional Campaign Volunteer
Education BS
Civic/Religious Organizations You Belong To WCRP, Friends of Franklin Parks, Heritage Society, Franklin First United Methodist Church
How Long Have You Lived In Williamson Co.? 20 years
Military Service n/a
Email Address mgm711@gmail.com
Phone Number 615-636-5646
Thank you for volunteering to serve your community, what motivated you to seek this position? Having deep roots in Franklin, TN since I was born, I grew up helping my grandparents on their 500-acre farm and my father's farm on weekends and summers. The beauty of Williamson County is breathtaking and the people have always been the best all around. I've seen how local government decisions can have a huge impact on citizens and have experienced this personally. Another reason, times have changed. Residents want to see a legislative body that will focus on the future, look at new ways for increasing revenue without raising property tax. After attending some commission meetings it didn't appear that spending was an issue. Everyone voted yes to million dollar projects. Also, I don't like the fact that the commissioners do not see an itemized budget before voting to approve. It was great to see wine sells in grocery stores approved, but they didn't look at the unincorporated areas. Businesses suffered. One grocery store closed. That potential revenue for the county would have been a huge help for funding new schools we need. There desperately needs to be an overhaul of distributed funds. I'm all about promoting faith, family, and financial stability.
On your first day in office, what will be the top item on your agenda? Taxes
Have you attended County Commission meetings or work sessions, researched the duties and responsibilities of a County Commissioner, and talked to other elected officials about what your role and time commitments would be as a Commissioner? Incumbents: How do you communicate with your constituents and when are you available to meet? Yes, I have attended County Commission meetings and reviewed County Commissioner responsibilities, spoken with the Mayor, several other current commissioners. To do a good job it will take personal time and dedication. But I love it and want to help build a brighter future as well as encourage young ladies and gentlemen to pursue local government as a career.
The County Commission is responsible for approving the budget and funding our schools, roads, and infrastructure with property taxes collected. On the other hand, cities fuel growth by approving zoning requests and building permits for commercial and residential construction. What would you do to encourage a shared fiscal responsibility with local municipalities? Additionally, in your mind, who should pay for growth and how? First, I believe well-planned growth can be a good thing for a county. It can be a bad thing if it's not well thought out. It takes serious planning and a future-forward vision to substantiate a vigorous county that embraces a mindset for growth driving real solutions for our infrastructure and schools, allocating funds and innovative ideas that offset debt without increasing property tax. To encourage shared fiscal responsibility takes a willingness to unify and connect with all local municipalities. Second, unity and accountability is key to a strong government. We can build unity by our common bond for the people. Don't be afraid to hold yourself accountable and keep an open mind. It will not always be easy but it can be well worth the efforts. It would not be fair for the residents to pay for growth. I feel that the County Commissioners need to learn and watch what developers plan when land is sold for commercial development. Before high-density development occurs look at the nearest school locations to determine if they are already overcrowded. If new schools need to be built assess how much revenue from taxes will be realized and if the county will have the funds for schools. Residential developers should share in this responsibility and special fees assessed. Same with commercial developers. It's important to assess each situation. With new headquarters entering the County, I feel they should share responsibly for needed school revenue and not get the big tax breaks that so many corporations do. Some tax breaks are good so that we can provide jobs through new businesses, but multi-million dollar tax breaks go too far.
Our current property taxes if left unchecked are estimated to double - perhaps triple - in just a few years. The tax burden is on current residents many of whom are looking forward to retirement, living on fixed incomes, or raising families. Would you support legislation to foster sharing the cost of growth with the business sector as many high growth States have done? Would you support researching alternative funding sources such as making commercial or business rental leases subject to sales tax? What other cost containment measures would you recommend? Mentioned in my previous statements, I do not believe current residents should have their property taxes doubled or tripled. This would not be fair to the residents that bought their homes years ago to retire in Williamson County. This is wrong. To maintain economic prosperity, we must keep “Fair and Simple Taxes for Growth,” as stated in the Republican Platform. Think about this…” Fair and Simple.” Is it going to be “Fair” to raise our long-time resident’s property tax again due to the enormous growth and the need for new school systems and roadways? Growth presents a burden for our County residents. I believe in taking a common-sense approach which would not be to raise property taxes. The burdens this will impose on our residents living on a fixed income will have a devastating impact. They could be forced to leave their homes. We must look at alternative funding sources. Commercial or business rental leases should have been subject to sales tax years ago. It doesn't have to be huge. Again, it's common sense or logic that should be the deciding factor on how much the sales tax should be. An example of logic, take the new ChopT restaurant. It partners with the Nashville Food Project to help those without food. Or Happy Retales that gives 100% profit to animal rescues. This is good business. Why can’t a paper supplier help schools with paper supplies or a computer company refurbishing its computers for schools? This could lower school budgets and increase learning. A win-win.
In 2016-2017, $44,000,000.00 or 21% of our property tax dollars were allocated to pay the interest on our debt. While interest rates are currently low, if we continue to fund growth by borrowing, we take on significant fiscal risk as bonds interest rates rise. What funding ideas to you have other than purchasing 20 year bonds? I don't believe in purchasing bonds. It's never smart to plan for growth if it involves creating debt. While some debt is unavoidable, legislative bodies should at all cost avoid debt. As mentioned earlier, we need to look at our current distribution of funds. As times have changed, we need to update our financial system. Traditional budgeting practices are no longer viable in today's economy and many may be obsolete. Old accounting practices can be a source of mismanagement, waste and actually cost the government. I believe taking ‘if you don’t have it, don’t spend it’ approach.
In an effort to promote accountability and transparency local municipalities in other states have put their checkbook register on line for citizens to see how their tax dollars are spent. What recommendations would you make to increase transparency and accountability to the electorate? I think posting the checkbook register online is a great idea. Also, posting a line item budget that the County Commissioners must approve is also something I would advocate.
What cost containment measures can you suggest to save tax dollars? If you don't have it, don't spend it. Basically, we need common sense solutions that will provide safer communities, better schools, and more efficient infrastructure. We've got to reduce waste. I'm sure there are funds being spent that shouldn't be. Eliminating excessive or ridiculous spending should be stopped and made public if it doesn't. I want to make sure our county government is as frugal as our families must be.
Schools funding including interest payments on money borrowed to build new schools is close to 80% of the total County budget. Commissioners vote either to accept or reject the budget as presented, they have no control over how the money is spent. If the budget is rejected, they must negotiate with the Director of Public schools until they reach a resolution. Would you support a resolution to change current law to allow line item veto power to the County Commission when approving the School Budget? Yes