Where in the world is the Kmart money? It is a question that commissioners and voters alike should be asking.
When the county acquired $700,000 in proceeds from the sale of the building commissioners earmarked the money for industrial development, vowing only to use it when a prime piece of industrial property came along.
Now nearly two years and what seems like a zillion debates later the same group has managed to spend nearly every penny.
With $200,000 for the Children’s Center, $150,000 for a rock crusher and another $235,000 for bridge repairs in the first and fifth districts it seems that somewhere along the way the commission lost its original focus for the money.
While there are countless arguments for and against the projects the Kmart funds were diverted to, the greatest concern is not necessarily how it was spent but the commission’s inability to make a decision and stick with it.
It has long been said that a man is only as good as his word. In the commission’s case its word has only proven good from one meeting to the next. For as many times as they have voted to use the Kmart funds for industrial development they have reneged when a more immediate need came along.
And this constant flip-flopping on issues is not isolated to the spending of the Kmart monies.
Votes and re-votes on matters like Archery Lane and funding a jail addition have dragged on for months with no firm resolution.
The bottom line is until a record of consistency is established commissioners are unlikely to earn the respect and trust of the voters and will continue to be the butt of political jokes.
As for the Kmart money, there is $115,000 left, so stay tuned because the decision on how it will be spent is likely to be about as dependable as an East Tennessee weather forecast.