County commissioner can't speak at Cornersville BOMA

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

By Karen Hall


A county commissioner, who wanted to give the Cornersville Board of Mayor and Aldermen some interesting information, was not allowed to speak at the board's monthly meeting last week.

Seth Warf, who represents District 7 on the commission, but was born and raised in Cornersville, stood up when Mayor Amos Davis called for citizens' comments.

"You're not a citizen," exclaimed Davis.

"I wanted to bring you some information from the Land Price and Sale Committee," said Warf.

"You should have called and put it on the agenda," Davis told him.

"I've just come from the meeting," Warf explained, but Davis still refused to allow him to speak, so Warf left the room.

"I think the Mayor of Cornersville was very rude to me," Warf said the next day. "Very unprofessional. I think people need to know how rude this guy is. Mr. Davis is not the right person to be in that office."

The information Warf wanted the BOMA to know was that the Land Price and Sale Committee had been discussing whether the county should purchase a house on South Main Street, near Cornersville High School. If the county buys the house, it would result in a loss of about $308 in annual property taxes paid to the City of Cornersville, and Warf thought the BOMA needed to know this and have time to speak to their county commissioners.

Property taxes were also at the heart of another hot topic at the meeting.

"I've had three or four calls wanting to know about a letter explaining if police were taken off the interstate, taxes would be raised in the City of Cornersville," said Alderman Jimmy Wolaver. "Where did it come from?"

"It came from me," admitted City Administrator Taylor Brandon.

When asked why he had not signed the letter, Brandon said, "That was my discretion. I wanted people to focus on calling their legislators."

The names and contact information for State Sen. Jim Tracy and State Rep. Billy Spivey were listed at the bottom of the letter.

The letter starts out, "State Rep. Billy Spivey is sponsoring a bill that will revoke interstate permits statewide. You need to understand the impact this bill will have on Cornersville."

The letter goes on to explain that by having its officers writing tickets on the interstate, the Cornersville Police Department is able to operate at little or no cost to the tax payer.

"It (the permit to patrol the interstate) is the biggest reason why Cornersville has not raised the property tax rate in nine years," the letter continues. "Without the permit, the Town will be forced to make difficult choices. The Town will have to lay off as many as two police officers or raise the property tax rate to keep the same level of service. You could get less protection, or pay more to keep what you have.

"The bill is bad for you and bad for Cornersville," the letter concludes, urging readers to let Tracy and Spivey know they are opposed to it.

"Why did you send the letter to some people and not to others?" asked Tommy Upton when it was his turn to make a citizen's comment.

"The ones that are for that legislation, the letter didn't go to them," Davis said.

"I'd like to have known about the letter myself," said Upton. "Why didn't I get a letter?

After some questions about the town's budget, Upton was told his three minutes were up, and the next citizen to speak was Paul LeGrone.

"I also got the letter," he said. "I was a little freaked out by an anonymous letter, but I wrote to both legislators. My opinion is that police work shouldn't be profitable. That's not a comment on our police department, but to make a profit is not to 'protect and serve.'"

LeGrone went on to say he didn't even feel like he could discuss the proposed legislation and its effect on Cornersville because when people asked where he got the information, he would have to reply, "An anonymous letter."

"I would look like a fool," he exclaimed.

Other citizens declined to comment in the meeting, but had plenty to say outside on the sidewalk and clustered around Warf's truck, where he told them what he had not been allowed to say in the meeting.