Freezing out taxpayers

Our friends at The Beacon Center are out with their latest research on government waste: 2020 Pork Report.

Item number six on their list is the hiring freeze in Shelby County government. I appreciate the attention to our budget predicament, but some additional context is warranted.

Below is the section dealing with the Shelby County hiring freeze.

I believe this is a reference to the hiring freeze put in place during the first meeting of this current fiscal year. That measure was introduced on July 13 by then-Chairman Mark Billingsley and received unanimous support.

Here’s that resolution:

As you’ll notice in the highlighted portion of the resolution, there was a provision allowing for “necessary exceptions.”

Those exceptions began to be brought forward immediately, some of them occurring in the very same meeting. Additional exceptions were considered by the commission in the next several meetings.

Some members of the board considered these exceptions to be out of line with the “freeze” policy, and eventually the vast majority of commissioners lost their patience with the process and were ready to lift it.

In the September 28 meeting, there were two dueling resolutions on the agenda. One resolution lifted the freeze altogether. Because I worked to put together a compromise, that resolution was withdrawn.

The other resolution, which I introduced and sponsored with two other commissioners, merely changed the composition of the hiring freeze committee.

Instead of coming before the commission, exceptions would be approved by executives in the mayor’s administration and other elected offices.

This resolution passed, 11-1, and remains in effect to this day.

Furthermore, for additional context, there was already a hiring freeze in place earlier in the calendar year.

I introduced that resolution and sponsored it along with Commissioner Morrison. It was approved on April 20 by a vote of 7-4.

All that said, I agree with the Beacon Center that local government needs to be responsible with your tax dollars and curb the growth of spending.

We will need to remain especially vigilant in the year ahead.