Government officials throughout the Volunteer State wasted millions of taxpayer dollars this past year through fraud, abuse, and incompetence, according to the 2019 Tennessee Pork Report, released Wednesday.
The Nashville-based Beacon Center of Tennessee, a free market think tank, released the report, as it has for the past 14 years.
Examples of waste, fraud and abuse include Graceland’s veiled threats to move out of Memphis, which landed the property $75 million in tax dollars. Another example — officials in the financially-strapped city of Nashville giving millions of dollars to Amazon and the NFL draft.
“The Beacon Center allowed Tennesseans to vote on their choice for the Pork of the Year award,” according to a Beacon press release.
“This year’s ‘winner’ was the $14.5 million taxpayer-funded upgrade to the Richard Siegel Soccer Complex in Murfreesboro at the same time city officials raised property taxes by 36 percent. The city is already losing $150,000 a year on the complex and even by the city’s almost certainly inflated projections, it will take 127 years to pay off the debt.”
One finalist for Pork of the Year included $700,000 in federal and state taxpayer money that officials spent to build a visitor center at Reelfoot Lake. Officials later tore the center down because it didn’t meet earthquake requirements.
Another finalist was the city of Nashville. City officials had to withdraw $1.5 million directly from the school district’s budget — without warning — to cover the cost of the TIF program, which gives tax dollars to developers in the city.
“From Memphis to Chattanooga and everywhere in between, there continues to be a massive amount of waste, fraud, and abuse throughout the state,” the press release quoted Beacon spokesman Mark Cunningham as saying.
“The cities of Memphis and Nashville continue to ‘lead’ the state when it comes to wasteful spending. Hopefully, the Pork Report will show taxpayers how inefficiently their money is being spent.”
The 2019 Pork Report comes from state and local budgets, media reports, state audits, and independent research conducted by Beacon Center staff and scholars, the press release went on to say.
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