Local governments under siege by state

Johnson City Press • Apr 7, 2014 at 9:20 AM

The last days of the Tennessee General Assembly often produce bad laws for local government. This year is no exception, as the closing weeks of this session have seen state lawmakers tread on matters that traditionally have been left in the capable hands of local governments.From rewriting Tennessee’s annexation laws to attempting to dictate how much a city should charge for its water and sewer services, several members of our local legislative delegation have been quite busy in recent months meddling in the affairs of local governments. If they are so interested in municipal and local school issues, perhaps they should have run for the City Commission or the school board instead of the General Assembly.We often hear lawmakers in Nashville gripe about the federal government improperly inserting itself into the affairs of the state. Yet, these same state lawmakers are quick to do the same when it comes to matters of local government.State officials have, for many years now, escaped tax increases by saddling local governments with unfunded mandates. Simply put, local taxpayers are being made to pay for things the state should be taking care of.Shifting the tax burden from one level of government to another is also disingenuous. So is misleading voters into thinking that they are not paying more in other ways to cover state government’s cost of doing business. How many times have lawmakers increased existing fees for doing business with the state government, or created new ones just so they can tell the voters they have not raised their taxes?Too many.

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