Jim Folts Blount County Commissioner
“To stand in silence, when
they should be protesting, makes cowards out of men” - Abraham Lincoln
Next Commission Meeting
December 2010 Report
options presented - still no decisions. $2.6 million problem in the insurance fund.
At this month's
Budget Committee meeting, the Mr. Jennings returned with four budget options, ranging from one
which holds the existing tax rate and makes significant cuts to the
County budget, to a 'business as usual' option that results in nearly a
20 percent tax increase. Once again, the Finance Director asked for
guidance in preparing next year's budget.
in the Budget Committee was interesting. Concerns were voiced about
cutting county workers. Concerns were voiced about asking County
workers to contribute $50 per month to their medical plan costs (they
currently contribute nothing). Comments were made about deeper cuts in
the schools. Yet, not a word was voiced about closer scrutiny of other
large budgets, like the Sheriff's department. And, no one mentioned the
terrible impact a major tax increase could have on the citizens of the
County. Nearly 30 percent of the real estate transactions in the county
involve foreclosed homes and properties. Ten percent of our citizens
are unemployed. Nearly 20 percent of our citizens are on Food Stamps. A
major tax increase will increase foreclosures and cause more small
businesses to fail, further increasing unemployment. There is really no
viable alternative to cutting the budget. Unfortunately, the Budget
Committee again put off any decision until January.
Jennings also brought another major financial problem to this meeting.
The county self-insures for liability and workers compensation. It
seems that our previous Financial Director did not do the actuarial
reviews necessary to assure that there was enough money in these funds
to pay our insurance claims. Worse, during the previous administration,
nearly $900,000 in accounting "errors" were made in calculating the
amount of money in these funds. These errors went undetected by the
state auditors, until this year. After Jennings reviewed all these
matters, he discovered there is no money in these funds,
and it will take an injection of $2.6 million of taxpayers' hard earned
money to make these funds sound. This led Commissioner Samples to
openly wonder why the County is in the self-insurance business at all.
Clearly, the County has not been managing their self-insurance very
Option presentation - no decision
A $40,000 budget
transfer from the Civil Defense department to the Sheriff's department
was discussed. It seems that the head of the Civil Defense department
is a former Sheriff's deputy. He told the Commission he wanted the
budget for his salary to be transferred to the Sheriff's department. He
said this was necessary so that he could maintain his POST
certification. He also said he would somehow continue to report to the
Mayor, even though he would now be paid by the Sheriff. This sets a
terrible precedent. Having a person paid out of one group, but
responsible to a different group is something most well-run
organizations try to avoid like the plague. Who evaluates the
employee's performance? Who does the employee take orders from - the
person who pays him, or the person who he is supposed to report to?
Even worse, changing organizational structures and budgets to suit the
convenience of an employee, makes no sense at all. Despite all these
problems, the Commission voted to take this matter up at the Commission
meeting. I was the only dissenting vote.
Meeting 12/16/2010 – Canceled