By Joe King, [email protected]

Candidate Steve Simon (the Herald / Joe King)

Candidate Steve Simon (the Herald / Joe King)

When election season inevitably rolls around, a lot of push-button phrases tend to get thrown around, but Blount County Commission Candidate Steve Simon is a pillar of knowledge and passion when it comes to fiscal conservatism.

“Blount County absolutely needs to be more fiscally conservative,” Simon said. “One of the problems they have over there is they have a $220 million debt. Just to give you a range of that size, they have an annual budget of $164 million. That’s higher than any other comparable county, not just nearby ones in the state. To make it worse, 40 percent of that debt is a variable rate, so that can change any day. We need to do something about getting out of that arrangement.”

Following his emphasis of fiscal conservatism, Simon said line item cuts based on each specific usage will be the route to go and he is passionately against raising taxes.

“To give you an example of the lack of fiscal conservatism in Blount County is the budget itself,” Simon said. “From year to year increases on certain line items can be anywhere from four to 40 percent and in a couple cases 300 percent. It is pretty hard to imagine how it could come up in that amount year after year. But the more concerning issue to me is when it comes to the budget, the County Commission considers that budget 30 days before it’s due. So you don’t have much of a choice to make changes.”

To fix this situation, Simon proposes a period of 30 days of consideration per every $30 million in the budget.

“That is certainly appropriate for the condition the County is in financially,” he said.

Other than working toward a program to get the County out of debt, Simon said education, addressing individual community concerns, and being available for his constinuents are key factors to his campaign. In fact, availability is such a big deal to Simon, he has a second cell phone dedicated solely to commission-related calls.

Running for District 9, Seat B, Simon was the Mayor of Rockford from 2002 until 2010 and has a vast background with business finance management and small business startups.

“I have a strong background in reviewing and managing budgets, cutting costs, encouraging job growth,” Simon said. “I have been fully involved in small business startups and operations.  I’ve been close to where the rubber meets the road with the details of managing finances.”

CUTLINE: Fiscally Conservative Republican Steve Simon is running for Blount County Commission for District 9, Seat B. (The Herald/ Joe King)

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