CCFC- April Letter to Membership
First Quarter Wrap-up
It has been a couple of months since we last reached out to our members. We had a very busy first quarter and there are several issues we want to keep our members abreast of. As we commence another county budget period we are closely watching several areas of concern. Among them are:
- The Weems crisis lurches on. At the last Hospital Board Meeting in March financial statements were not available for February. We have another meeting this week and I hope to be able to report actual numbers to our Board. The last information we had was that Weems owed about $2 million in current accounts payable. Since then Weems has received $800,000 in State charity care money. We will have to wait and see to what extent this has changed anything.
- This last week at the County Commission meeting it was announced that Weems was asking that a $62,500 bill for â€œpreconstruction activityâ€ be paid. This is after Commissioner Sanders agreed with me at the prior meeting that new construction activity at Weems was to be put on hold way back in January. Motion to pay was approved without objection.
- Since the Commission has decided that it no longer wants to run Weems it asked TMH to look for partners to lease or sell Weems to. TMH provided two possibilities. The first neither leases any hospitals or owns any and has already been discarded. The other, Community Hospital Corporation is a Texas outfit with broad experience. But, hereâ€™s the rub. CHC has requested an Operational Audit to be done to decide what level or even if they can bid for Weems. Instead of going out for an independent Operational Audit, our Commission decided to award CHC a $55,000 contract to do so, of which $15,000 is to be paid by TMH. Effectively, CHC is being paid to examine Weems and potentially make an offer. I strongly advised the Commission on the foolishness of paying the one and only potential bidder to undertake the audit to no avail. Weâ€™ll hear back in about two to three months what they â€œuncover.â€ CHC was given no instructions on how to conduct the audit by the Commission.
- Once the Weems issue is settled, one way or the other, the most important issue facing the county can be addressed. That issue is economic development. Franklin County is effectively in a no growth status. All the important metrics including income, population, investor interest, schools and more are flat. The county has relied for more than 15 years, and continues to rely on various regional organizations and solutions rather than hiring their own Economic Development expert who works only for Franklin County and can be held accountable for success. It is high time we get serious about improving the entire ecosystem of Health, Education and Economic Development in Franklin. Franklin County is among the poorest counties in the State of Florida. There is no excuse for the state we are in. While we do a great job of Tourist Development under Curt Blair and with the support of the Commission, the other levers of economic development remain â€œundeveloped. It is time for a â€œbrain trustâ€ of successful and motivated individuals to be created that can bring forward a comprehensive unbiased plan for the future. Nothing we can do going forward is as important as this simple and somewhat obvious action.
- Recycling. The dirty little secret of recycling is that even with the most conscience collection of recyclables, itâ€™s largely a waste of time and money as currently done in the county. Fonda Davis (Solid Waste Director) is another gem in our county. However, even he canâ€™t change the economics of scale or commercial viability of recycling. The truth is that the majority of recyclables wind up in the county landfill. This will upset quite a few people, but thatâ€™s the day-today reality of recycling. Rather than continue the current path, Commissioners should find a better way of recycling or stop it entirely. Recently, Commissioners asked Waste Management what it would cost to have mandatory curbside recycling. If I am correct, I believe they said it would triple your disposal cost. Letâ€™s have a discussion for a new vision. A vision that includes what to do with county drop off sites that are eyesores, attract vermin and generally filled with non-recyclables anyway.
- Drug Court. I met with Sheriff A.J. Smith last week. Accolades to the new Sheriff. His first 100 days is nothing short of miraculous. Heâ€™s cleaned up every aspect of his Department and is looking for solutions to the very real crime problems we have here. Sheriff Smith said to me that 90% of his arrests and inmates are drug related. One of the Sheriffâ€™s ideas is to create a â€œDrug Courtâ€ as has been done in many other counties to divert cases of non-violent individuals and especially first timers to reduce the jail population and to create opportunities for individuals to get their act cleaned up and avoid having a Felony conviction following them for the rest of their lives. His Drug Court initiative was brought up last week by Commissioners and was not generally well received. I hope that the Sheriffâ€™s idea takes root and is ultimately successful.
There is actually a lot more to share but time and space do not allow us to go on. Iâ€™ve said this before, but the government we get is the government we deserve. There is a lot going on at the K-12 school. With the newest Principal not being offered a new contract and the State withholding a final grade at this time, we have deep concern for whatâ€™s going on there. Weâ€™ll be watching to see how this all plays out.
Thank you for your support of the CCFC. Not a member? No problem, click onâ€¦http://abetterfranklin.com/index.php/join-ccfc and Join today. We depend on your support! Membership dues are not tax deductible.
Thank you for your support!
Allan J. Feifer
Concerned Citizens of Franklin County, Inc.
P.O. Box 990 Eastpoint, Florida 32328
â€œThe Concerned Citizens of Franklin County, Inc. serves as a citizensâ€™ advocate to ensure that our Franklin County governments are more open, affordable, efficient, and responsive to our citizens. The organization seeks to hold public officials accountable for their actions in the administration of their duties and in their fiduciary responsibilities to the taxpayers.â€
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