Signal payoff not 'extended'
Your editorial June 23 on Signal Mountain's recent tax vote is misleading. Over the last few years, the Town of Signal Mountain has raised its taxes several times to pay for a high school which should have been paid for by Hamilton County. This dream came to fruition in 2008 and has been an incredible success. The town undertook a $7.7 million bonded indebtedness for this school which was originally scheduled to be paid off over 20 years. Due to a combination of using previously collected sales taxes (also voted on by the citizens for the school), early tax collections and low interest rates, we have lowered that debt nearly by half in just four years.
Part of the reason for the rapid pay-down is that tax collections from the school portion of the property tax were set high in anticipation of higher interest rates than have occurred. Because of this, we are collecting amounts much in excess of the minimum annual payments. Now, in this time of economic downturn the town has wisely decided to use that excess tax revenue for other needs.
You state that we have "extended" the payoff to 2021. In reality, we have shortened it by six years saving hundreds of thousands of dollars in interest.
I support the Town Council's decision to keep overall tax rates steady while shifting priorities from debt service toward needed services and maintenance.
PAUL M. HENDRICKS, M.D.
Former Signal Mountain Mayor and Town Council Member
Lower tax increase could save library
I am responding to your editorial (June 23) about the action of the Collegedale city commissioners against a tax increase to support the library.
The tax measure was voted down not because the majority of the commission does not want to keep the library, but because a 22-cent tax increase is not needed to save the library. There are non-essential budget increases, which when removed, would lower the tax increase. The library is an important service to our community. We wish the County Commission would see fit to assist us, but they have not chosen to do so.
Thank you for the opportunity to set the record straight.
KATIE A. LAMB
Collegedale City Commissioner
Disagree, but still be tolerant
The responsibilities of living in a free society include being tolerant of opinions with which you personally disagree. The letter advising this paper to shut down Clay Bennett's contributions is surprising, coming from someone supposedly well-educated. The writer has a perfect right not to like Bennett's cartoons, but needs to be reminded that eliminating opinions that don't agree with your own is not what America is all about.
I like Bennett's cartoons for the most part, and find that the captions the Free Press editors feel are needed to explain the cartoons on the other page certainly make me roll my eyes, but America's freedom demands we all try to accommodate one another and live in peace as we are able.