Barren County Progress/JPI
This past week, a video has surfaced with amazing footage that includes actual audio from an interview by Brennan Crain with Glasgow City Councilman Patrick Gaunce.
Crain is the news director for the Henry Royce Radio Station in Glasgow. The content creator for the video is Jeff Greer, founder of a local Facebook site called the Glasgow Voice.
Gaunce is a big fan of Crain, and this helps in any interview. Being comfortable allows people to speak freely, and this interview was done in a manner as if two friends were chatting. Crain was professional, and Gaunce spoke with a level of clarity I have not seen before from him.
Nevertheless, the attention for this interview is made possible because of the creative ability of Greer, a Glasgow native who moved to Nashville after college to pursue a career. A quick chat with Greer will outline a creative fella with high energy who is experienced in news, marketing, publishing, and content creation for media and top-name entertainment.
In the interview with Crain, Gaunce stated, “If I was King for the day, I would raise taxes, but I would raise it in this manner. Oklahoma City is a good case study…They did it in downtown Oklahoma City, and they have a NBA team, a river walk, and every year now the citizens are wanting to be taxed again. I think this is what we gotta do. Say we are going to raise taxes to get a million dollars, and we are going to build you a new pool, we are going to build a park, um, we are going to paint a mural. We need more money, but if you can show them what you are going to do with it, they still may not like it, but they will swallow it a whole lot easier.”
That’s right. Gaunce said, “They may not like it, but they will swallow it a whole lot easier.”
As a community publisher, there are few politicians I have seen try to live by a promise more than Patrick Gaunce. He did all he could to build a “waterpark” that had a price tag of $6M. This attempt was made at the very time closings had been announced for RR Donnelly and Sitel.
I quietly tried to counsel him with what this meant to the city budget. My estimate was a shortfall of $600,000 and I was close. Gaunce said, “That is above my pay scale, and I’ll listen to the finance professionals and not you.”
I wrote in this space back in January 2019: “This “Cadillac” $6M package as Patrick describes it is for a water park and city park that has a $451,000.00 a year payment for 20-years. For those who may not completely understand the magnitude of this cost, let me help break it down like this…In order to provide this $451,000.00 a year payment, the following assumptions would be needed. At .015% payroll tax, it would take 600 full-time salaries at $50,000.00 a year for 20-years to generate this amount. Considering we are losing jobs, I can’t imagine us gaining these jobs this year or the next, so it is sure to come out of the existing budget.”
Or a tax will be needed.
Gaunce supports Judge-Executive Micheal Hale in establishing taxing districts. Therefore, we now have the “Ambulance Tax”. The community was told the tax was needed to build a new ambulance station. This is the largest tax increase in several decades. Hale said in the December 2016 meeting that he expected to raise $457,000 of new tax money for the new ambulance board. The new tax would be additional money from all Barren County tax payers and free up Glasgow and Barren County general funds, allowing them to spend more on other needs.
They have purchased 6.1 acres for $450,000, just about $74,000 an acre at a far edge of Barren near Metcalfe County; in an operation where seconds saves lives this doesn’t seem convenient to Cave City and Park City. Hale spoke in the Cave City Council meeting last week of being fully staffed and employees fill this week’s ambulance board meeting pleading for a fair wage, respect to stop turnover and help filling the open positions.
Magistrate Carl Dickerson was alone in voting against the tax at that time saying there should be some other way and suggested using the new alcohol tax money.
In the January 2019 Glasgow City Council meeting, Gaunce welcomed Harold Armstrong to being the newly elected mayor of Glasgow by immediately pushing for votes to build the $6M water park, and he began filling the room with supporters challenging Armstrong and the city finance committee. It was difficult to hold Gaunce off, but the city just couldn’t afford borrowing money. Members Wendell Honeycutt, Terry Bunnell, Marlin Witcher, and the city treasurer Stephanie Garrett and finance officer Joe Lascala stayed strong. Looking back, if Glasgow had done this just prior to the pandemic, there is no telling if Glasgow could have survived.
Gaunce is now promoting a new Glasgow restaurant tax, some say just to hurt the operation I have attempted to establish to help downtown Glasgow. What he doesn’t understand is that Glasgow is not like Cave City. We aren’t a tourist town, so those taxes will once again be pushed on our friends and neighbors who support local restaurants. I do not support such a move when many of our fellow citizens are on financial life support and still struggling. Once again, Gaunce is absolutely blind to the fact that several restaurants have closed in just this year alone.
Gaunce has stood against Armstrong on most every effort during the past four years. He has divided our city by calling our mayor a liar on social media numerous times and spewed false narratives, all of which is a blatant violation of the “ethics code” he himself approved. Gaunce even told Stephanie Garrett, the City Treasurer, that if she worked for him he would fire her. This was done in an open meeting in which he rallied thirty of his followers to come and challenge the finance committee for his new spending plan, the amphitheater. Garrett displayed an example of how a strong professional should respond and held her composure. In this meeting, Gaunce was determined to rob the garbage landfill fund to partner with a small group of investors, some of whom helped him build the $800,000 kitchen on a Housing Authority owned property through one of the charities he partners.
Gaunce is so much against Armstrong that he was alone in voting against the current city budget that gave every small business in the city hurt by Covid-19 an opportunity to apply for up to $10,000. And yet, he and Hale attempted to bully the county magistrates into giving him a combined $1.025M for his pet charities. One of the charities hadn’t even gotten off the ground with an operable location and was doubling the budget for another.
Gaunce became very upset with Armstrong because he stood in his way of allowing him to take control of a city asset, the Lera B. Mitchell Clubhouse.
As a community, we can be upset at government workers and elected officials for not standing up to bullies. After all, they are supposed to do what is right for us all. However, even though our council members and magistrates are family people and take pride in serving in the position, they didn’t sign on to be threatened, bullied, or thrown in the middle of controversy after controversy.
This is why some of the more timid government officials end up following Gaunce. I have read several opinions of how an all new council is the best answer, but I do not agree. I believe any or all of the men and women who are running for these spots could do the job if they didn’t have Gaunce there pressing them to raise taxes, put the city in debt, and push for projects to reward his political supporters.
I’ll go even further and say that Gaunce has a couple of loyalists on the ticket lined up to slide into the slot being vacated by Honeycutt. If just one of them win this open seat, he will have a super majority for all that happens in Glasgow, and he is floating the discussion of one combined county government.
If Patrick Gaunce comes out of this election cycle with Micheal Hale, it will be the Tax King running our entire county and, to put in Gaunce’s own words, “It sure will be hard to swallow.”