The County of You

Larry Van GuilderAs I see it

I’m going to give you $100,000. (You’re welcome.)

All you need to do is provide yourself the same services the Knox County government currently does under its budget, proportionately speaking, of course. For example, if the county budget was $500,000 you would have a budget equal to 20 percent of that amount and can spend 20 percent of the county expense. The county budget is a great deal more than $500,000, but we won’t let that stop us.

Someone must answer the phone, pay the bills and keep records of everything you do, including serving jury duty. You have $6,259 for those tasks.

Can’t hire help that cheaply? Sorry, figure it out.

What about protecting yourself from the bad guys and gals who creep into You County? You’re allowed $10,954. Maybe you can buy a used prowl car and do the patrolling yourself. A metal storage shed in the backyard will do for a jail for now.

Don’t neglect your health. You’ll need a professional to keep track of vaccinations and keep you informed of health risks like mosquito-borne diseases. Spend your $2,633 wisely.

Everyone needs recreation. Let’s play 18! Unfortunately, the $733 in your annual budget will restrict your playing habits to less expensive pastimes like badminton and gin rummy.

Miscellaneous expenses creep into every budget. You’ll have a few, and they’ll drain your budget by $2,420.

Do you like to read? Better clear out the guest bedroom for the You County library. You’re allowed $1,715. By the way, that includes lawyerly books, just in case.

You made some arrests, but must feed the incarcerated for a year, even if it’s just baloney sandwiches and coffee. You have $3,201. Start clipping coupons.

How will you dispose of trash and litter? You’ll need another outbuilding for this. It will help if you’re the sort who doesn’t produce much waste because you only have $520 to handle it.

Nothing lasts forever, and the roads and bridges in You County are no exception. Your budget is $2,103. (Can you operate a backhoe?)

Over the years, the county has accumulated debt. Since there is no such thing as free money (or lunches), interest and principal payments are part of the budget. That comes to $9,037.

If you’re keeping up you probably feel pretty good about your self-governance skills right now. After all, these items total only $39,575. You may secede from Knox County tomorrow.

As Lee Corso might say, “Not so fast!” We’ve overlooked something: education.

There goes $59,387 of your $100,000 budget. Ouch.

By the way, about one percent of your budget funds come from hotel and motel taxes. You should probably get busy promoting You County as a vacation and convention destination. And ask visitors to overlook the noise coming from that shed in the backyard: You’ll be expanding soon!

Larry Van Guilder is the business/government editor for KnoxTNToday.

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