Fact-Checking Padgett's Claims Against Rogero

If you’re a city resident and likely voter, there’s a good chance you’ve gotten a mailing from the Padgett campaign about Rogero’s voting record while she was on Knox County Commission from 1990-98. It takes aim at her votes for five tax increases, including one that “gave her a 24% pay raise.” So what does that actually mean?

Rogero was part of Commission majorities that voted for property tax increases in 1991, ’92, ’95, and ’98. Here’s what they were for:

• 1991: In the midst of a recession, Commission raised taxes 8 percent just to keep spending levels the same as the previous year. No county employees received raises.

• 1992: At the urging of County Executive Dwight Kessell, Commission raised the rate another 7 percent, to give raises to county employees (including teachers) who hadn’t had them in two years and to build a new detention center to ease jail overcrowding and comply with a federal court order.

• 1993: Commission voted for a tax increase that paid for small raises, improvements to schools required under the Americans With Disabilities Act, and improvements to the county jail system.

• 1995: Commission granted new County Executive Tommy Schumpert most of the proposed budget he asked for, including an 8.6 percent tax increase. The money was designated for construction of new schools and roads; raises for teachers; the upgrading of county solid waste convenience and recycling centers; a new Traffic Division for the Sheriff’s Department; and the purchase of books and technology for county libraries.

• 1998: Rogero was one of several commissioners who tried to add a small tax increase to the county budget to give all county teachers a $1,000 raise. The proposal was voted down, 11-7.

As for that pay raise, the 1995 budget did include a proposal slipped in by Commissioner Ralph Teague (by accident, the Republican told the News Sentinel with a straight face) that nudged commissioners’ part-time compensation up from $12,000 to $14,900. It is true Rogero was part of the majority that voted for the budget that included that line. To say that “she snuck in a 24% pay raise for herself,” as the mailer asserts in large type, is close to an outright falsehood.

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