KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – Knox County government will transition from the Tim Burchett administration to Glenn Jacobs’s on Friday. Burchett, the republican nominee for Congress in November, said going through his desk is like going back in time. He said the letters, notes and memos remind him of the “good times and the not-so-good times.”
The notes that stick out to him are mostly from the people he describes as those he was able to help going outside the mayor’s typical job responsibilities. Burchett says he made a career out of doing unorthodox things for people who nobody else would help.
Burchett reflected on the battles over the years. He said they don’t seem as tough on paper as he remembers them, especially the fights about taxes. During an economic downturn early into his administration, Burchett says he was urged to increase taxes and thus increase county revenue. He refused.
“We didn’t raise taxes and we built a lot of nice schools for people who didn’t they they’d get them,” he said.
Carter Middle School is one of Burchett’s proudest accomplishments as county mayor. He describes the families in that district as hard-working, country, people who had been promised a new school for decades. Burchett wanted the patching to end and the new concrete poured. His pride likely comes from the fact the county paid for the school in full and didn’t borrow the money for construction.
Burchett also touted more than 8,000 new jobs in the county and what he says is nearly $1 billion in capital investment over the course of his two terms.
He says the job hasn’t changed him, saying, “I was idealistic when I started, but I’m still idealistic, I just realize I can’t do it all overnight.”.
He hopes he’s remembered as a mayor of his word and a mayor who was tight with the budget, adding “‘We could go into debt, the citizens wouldn’t notice it that much. But the reason we’ve got such a good bond rating and can borrow money for so cheap is because we’ve done those kinds of things.”
To sum up his eight years, he said, “if you don’t have it don’t spend it, you don’t have to spend it just because you have it.”
Burchett also spoke at length about his family. That’s when Burchett perks up and seems a little happier about a sit-down interview. He spoke about his “little girl,” calling her exceptional, sweet, beautiful and smart, “just like her mama,” he said.
“I sit at home thinking about how luck I am “I’m on the dadgum gravy train with biscuit wheels. I am living the life,” he added.
He also reflected on the time he spent with local veterans. Both of Burchett’s parents fought in World Wwar II, his father a corporal and his mother a pilot. He takes pride in their service and says of other veterans “I owe everything in jmy life except my salvation to those men and women.”
“If I have one suggestion to Glenn Jacobs, three words: don’t wreck it. We’ve started a good trend of paying down debt, keeping our word, and every project that comes in here you don’t have to fund, no is an easy, it gets easier actually. It gets tough sometimes but the role of government is not always getting involved in every dadgum thing.”
Monday was Burchett’s last County Commission meeting to attend as mayor. He asked the Commission to approve a $1.35 million allocation to the West Knox County Senior Citizens Center, which will pay it off. He says the funds are from surplus left from the budget.
Jacobs will be sworn in at 9 a.m. Friday.FacebookTwitterGoogle +