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Higher taxes, fewer services? Yes, thank the thieves of Unicoi County

Did you hear about the 17,000-plus people who were victims of a pickpocket? Of course you did, because you were one of the victims – again.
It seems crime is rampant in Unicoi County, and it’s going on right under our noses. It’s happened to you and all your neighbors. Yes, each of us can be called a victim here.
The accusation last month from the Unicoi County School System that Angie Williams, the director of finance, had taken nearly $21,000 in public funds for “personal use” was only the latest chapter in a sad, seemingly ongoing tale of corruption from folks with their hands in the public cookie jar.
One day after the school system made the claim of wrongdoing, Mrs. Williams’ family immediately supplied a check for $20,967.36 in “repayment.” To be clear, Mrs. Williams hasn’t been officially charged with any crime, and the letter from her husband accompanying the cashier’s check offers no admission of guilt or apology. It’s one more layer of confusion in an already complex issue that is bound to get more detailed as time moves on.
If you’re feeling a little déjà vu here, you’d be correct. This is the third time in recent years the taxpayers of Unicoi County have been cheated out of their own money.
In 2006, former Circuit Court Clerk Gregg Masters pleaded guilty to stealing at least $10,507 from public funds. He repaid the money, but he never spent a night in jail. (He was sentenced to six months of home confinement).
Only a couple of years later, auditors once again found thousands in missing funds from the circuit clerk’s office. The district attorney and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation said there was no doubt money had been stolen, but a grand jury refused to indict because it couldn’t be clearly proven who specifically took the money. We may never know who committed the crime.
So here we are, taxpayers, with at least $50,000 – maybe more – taken from us all.
It’s outrageous and deplorable.
Think about what could have been done with $50,000. Imagine the public needs that could have been financed – newly paved roads, books for the library, better school buses, new uniforms for student athletes, more road salt during the winter, and the list goes on and on.
But the county didn’t have the funds, because a series of thieves decided to take what doesn’t belong to them – YOUR money.
Your county tax rate is higher because someone took YOUR money.
They have taken from all of us. They took from the rich and the poor. They took from innocent children and from senior citizens on fixed incomes. They took from every single taxpayer and resident of Unicoi County.
Enough is enough.