Binding Referendums on County Government

Lincoln County Home Rule Charter provides an opportunity for county citizens to have their voice heard by having county referendums pursuant to Tenn Code Ann 2-5-151.
This is a very important feature of the Lincoln County Home Rule Charter allowing any registered voter in Lincoln County to start the petition process described below:

2-5-151. Petitions for recall, referendum or initiative.
Any governmental entity having a charter provision for a petition for recall, referendum or initiative or any person acting pursuant to such charter provision shall meet the requirements of this section. Before a petition may be circulated, at least one (1) registered voter of the city or county shall file with the county election commission:

(1) The proper form of the petition; and

(2) The text of the question posed in the petition.
This allows the citizens of Lincoln County to have the right to redress any action by the Lincoln County Government. Under the current county government the redress of county government is very limited. The charter requires that a petition to be approved and be put on the next general election ballot for a referendum have signatures of county register voters equal to 7% of the voters in Lincoln County who voted in the last gubernatorial election in Lincoln County (approximately 650.) The referendum will be binding on the Lincoln County Government. The Lincoln County Home Rule Charter does not allow for special elections and has a requirement that if any petition has been certified, if the petition addresses a past action of the Lincoln County Government, per section 9.15 of the Home Rule Charter, (the measure that is the subject of the referendum shall be rendered not in effect, there will be a stoppage of work or activity and all funding to the measure suspended, pending the outcome of the referendum.)

Found at Section 9.14. Petitions for Recall, Referendum, and Initiative to be Applicable.

Stated Debt Management Policy for Citizen Protection

Lincoln County Home Rule Charter includes well defined debt management requirements including a current Outstanding Debt Report reflecting total outstanding indebtedness of Lincoln County to better protect the citizen of Lincoln County.

The total indebtedness of Lincoln County is not easily ascertained. Different county officials cite different amounts. The Home Rule Charter has stated rules to be followed in incurring or refinancing county indebtedness.

Found at Section 11.09. Debt Management.

Requirements for Purchases of Land, Buildings or New Construction

Section 9.16. Real Property Acquisition Requirements

This requires that proper planning and due diligence be done before county taxpayer dollars are appropriated. Before real property can be acquired by the Lincoln County Government, the following due diligence must be performed by the County Mayor. Real property is defined to mean land and buildings, this also applies to new construction or additions.

1. A Requirements Document must be written and contain at a minimum, an in-depth detail description of what is proposed to be acquired; the reasons for requesting the acquisition; a description of the acquisition’s benefit(s) to the citizens of Lincoln County; the projected cost of the project—to include any site preparation work, utility costs, sewers, remodeling, etc.; its impact on the operating budget in cost of additional staff, furnishings, maintenance, utilities, insurance, etc.; and the proposed financing method, costs to finance, and interest cost. The requirements must be written in such a manner that would create the most sources to meet the acquisition needs, a sole source justification on why the requirements were written, that limited competition, will be included in the requirements documents.

2. A Risk Assessment report detailing all associated risk and a risk mitigation plan must be written.

3. After the Requirements Document and Risk Assessment report have been prepared with the required information, the County Mayor will make a presentation to the Lincoln County Board of County Commissioners of the Requirements Document, Risk Assessment, and supporting data. The Lincoln County Board of County Commissioners may request more information or may approve the documents by a two-thirds (2/3) majority vote of the commissioners to schedule a public hearing to present the acquisition plan to the citizens of Lincoln County or may vote to not proceed with the acquisition. The Lincoln County Board of County Commissioners will not vote on the acquisition until a meeting after the public hearing and actual contractual costs have been established, the vote will require a two-thirds (2/3) majority for approval. If the real property acquisition requirements are not strictly followed, acquisition of said property acquired will be voided, all monies will be refunded to the Lincoln County Government, and title shall pass back to the previous owner.

Found at Section 9.16. Real Property Acquisition Requirements.

Voter Approval for New Or Increased Taxes

This is a requirement of the Home Rule Charter that any new taxes or any tax increases will be approved by the voters of Lincoln County by referendum.

The normal election cycles in Lincoln County are every two years, therefore, a referendum could be placed on the ballot every two years.

Also the Home Rule Charter does not allow for special elections to be held.

Found at Section 11.03.A.

Property Tax Freeze Act for Qualifying Senior Citizens

The Home Rule Charter adopts the Property Freeze Act, Tenn_Code_Ann_67-5-705 for qualifying citizens 65 or older.
As of 2105 this law has not been adopted by Lincoln County.

Approving the charter would freeze the property tax on principal residence for qualifying seniors not allowing any increases in the tax.

Probably there are some seniors in Lincoln County that have to do without food or medicine to pay their property tax.

Found at Section 11.02.F. Budget Plans and General Financial/a>.

No Automatic Departmental Inclusion in Proposed Tax Increases

The Home Rule Charter prohibits any county departments or boards being automatically included in any proposed tax increase.
This is not currently the case in Lincoln County.

The Home Rule Charter requires that any proposed tax increase would have to stand on its own merits.

No other county department or board would benefit by having the proposed increase doubled.

Found at Section 11.03. Tax Raises and County Income.

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