Theft, corporate welfare, dominate Tennessee headlines in July

Theft, corporate welfare, dominate Tennessee headlines in July

Waste, fraud and abuse at all levels of Tennessee government were rampant in July, according to a smattering of published news reports.

Spring Hill wastes taxpayer money on former employees

Spring Hill officials spent $92,000 on insurance on former city employees who weren’t eligible, according to the Spring Hill Home Page.

“The auditors found that insurance policies for city employees were not being reconciled consistently resulting in several employees’ insurance premiums being paid by city benefits after termination,” according to the publication.

Chattanooga schools still struggling, despite constant government fixes

Hamilton County Schools are struggling academically, and they rank among the state’s lowest performers, according to the Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Things are so bad that state officials are now involved.

Photo courtesy of the Chattanooga CVB’s Facebook page

Members of the Chattanooga City Council want to give the school system more time to come up with a plan to change things, the paper reported.

The alternative, the paper went on, is state intervention.

The schools in question are Orchard Knob Elementary, Orchard Knob Middle, Woodmore Elementary, Dalewood Middle, and Brainerd High.

“In recent months, Tennessee Education Commissioner Candice McQueen has recommended Hamilton County Schools and the state partner to create a special mini-district for those schools, as opposed to an outright state takeover,” the paper reported.

As Tennessee Watchdog reported in 2015, Chattanooga participated in a federal program to give no-cost lunches to students, at taxpayer expense, regardless of financial need — on the premise it would improve overall test scores.

The following school year test scores fell even further.

Another Memphis business gets corporate welfare

TAG Truck Center will receive federal tax credits to transform the former Mall of Memphis site into a truck dealership and technician training facility, according to the Memphis Commercial Appeal.

These tax credits are designed to rejuvenate low-income urban areas, the paper reported.

Photo courtesy of Flickr.

CORPORATE WELFARE: Memphis has given out a generous amount of money in corporate welfare, records show. (photo courtesy of Flickr.com and https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/)

“Three firms are providing $23 million in financing under the New Markets Tax Credit program,” the Memphis Commercial Appeal said.

The Economic Development Growth Engine of Memphis and Shelby County also granted the project a partial property tax freeze. Additionally, the financers, Stonehenge Capital and SunTrust Banks, got a $10 million tax credit allocation, the paper reported.

Wilson County clerk indicted

A former Wilson County clerk stole tax payments and fixed government records to cover up her theft, according to a FOX 17 report out of Nashville, quoting the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.

Shannon Hodgin allegedly stole more than $14,000, according to the station.

“Authorities began the investigation on March 1, and Hodgin resigned as the clerk in the Wilson County Trustee’s Office after the theft was discovered,” the station reported.

“She was indicted by a Wilson County Grand Jury on July 10 on charges of one count of theft, one count of official misconduct, and one count of tampering with government records.”

Audit says taxpayers got screwed on Nashville Sounds ballpark

The final cost of the taxpayer-funded Nashville Sounds’ First Tennessee Park ballooned to $91 million, according to the Tennessean.

The costs went up, the paper went on, after officials made improvements to the surrounding area.

The same audit also blames an expedited, 13-month construction timeline as one reason the minor league baseball stadium overshot its budget for construction and land acquisition by around $10 million,” the paper said.

The Nashville Metro Council approved $65 million in municipal revenue bonds in 2013 under former Mayor Karl Dean. The construction of the ballpark, however, swelled to $69.8 million, the paper reported.

“But the overall cost of the project increased further because of $21.2 million in other related work needed to make the Sulphur Dell stadium site in North Nashville ready for development,” the paper reported.

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