For the last couple of meetings, the Cocke County Finance Committee discussions have actually been enjoyable.

In what has been one of the more tedious beats of my 26 months in this position, things are picking up with positive discussions.

Sure the committee has taken its share of public and social media lashings for suggesting tax hikes and a possible wheel tax, and perhaps not trying to comb over every line item looking for a nickel and dime solution.

However, for a county that has been stagnant for as long as Cocke County has, at least they’re talking future.

While everyone wants to point fingers at how much Morristown is growing and how little has happened in Cocke County, it’s a lot easier to point fingers at how little Cocke County did to prepare itself decades ago.

Although it may be an arm-chair quarterback move to second guess the lack of tax increases over much of the 2000s, it isn’t hard to second guess the lack of investing this county did in itself over the years.

It was a lot easier for some commissioners and past commissions to pat themselves on the back for years of no tax increases, with fund balances under $50,000; but it’s a lot harder to stomach the lack of investment years later.

Simply put, the lack of action had a large interest fee on the principle of doing nothing.

Three or four pennies to invest and put back, say in 2005, would’ve been a lot of funds left to use today, if the county has to pony up and purchase property for economic development, build a jail or any other six-figure capital purchase that comes up unexpectedly.

That’s why it is refreshing to see the committee try to pick up the ball and run with it.

None of us like taxes. It hits us where it hurts. It may cause some of you to make drastic causes between survival items of food, medicine or taxes. It may cause some of you with limited disposable income to have to choose between purchasing the newspaper and paying the taxes.

You can argue until the cows come home about if the committee should or shouldn’t be doing more to run their magnifying glasses through each line item with a touch of scrutiny.

Could they find a handful of pennies to cut out? Perhaps. But at times, its hard to nickel and dime your way to prosperity as well.

However, its hard to argue that the committee isn’t trying to take the hand we’ve been dealt and trying to find a way forward.

A hearty thumbs up to them for trying every which way to do so.

As was mentioned in Tuesday night’s meeting, if we’re comfortable with where we are, then we’re good to go. However, it seems too many of us aren’t comfortable with our current position, which leaves us with choices to make.

THANK YOU FOR YOUR KIND WORDS: Since I announced my resignation last week and subsequent decision to become the marketing manager at Morristown-Hamblen Healthcare Systems, I have been inundated with many kind words, phone calls, messages and emails.

It is people like you all — and our staff — who made this choice one of the toughest of my life.

I’ve tried to respond to each of you individually, but if I have failed to do so; please know I appreciate each of you.

Although, as I told some of our staff, I’m not dead, nor dying, so I’ll still be around and involved.

Seth Butler is the Publisher & Editor of The Newport Plain Talk. He may reached via email at seth.butler@newportplaintalk.com or via Twitter @NPTSethButler.

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