Jim Folts   Blount County Commissioner


“To stand in silence, when they should be protesting, makes cowards out of men” - Abraham Lincoln

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  • Blount County Commission - Thursday Sept. 19th, 7:00 pm, room 430, Blount County Courthouse
  • Citizens for Blount County's Future - Tuesday Sept. 17th, 6:30pm, Blount County Library

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Feel free to let me know your views on county issues
. Just send me an email at jimfolts@gmail.com, or give me a call at 995-9476.

The Blount County Commissioners

Citizens for Better Government

Current Information

July 2013 Report

At the July meeting, the Blount County Commission approved the renewal of a contract to provide free medical services and medicines to County employees. In addition, the Commission was presented with a document showing the cost of benefits for Sheriff’s department employees have reached more than 60% of their base salaries.

Free medical services for County employees
The Commission approved a contract to provide free medical services and prescriptions to County employees. These benefits are in addition to the regular medical insurance benefits provided to county employees, which cost the County taxpayers more than $800 per month, while the employees pay just $25 per month. This is just another reason why the County employee benefits costs are spinning out of control.

Benefits for Sheriff’s office employees cost more than 60% of base salaries
The Sheriff’s office released a document showing that the benefits for a Deputy making $33,018, cost the citizens an additional $20,431. This is nearly double the cost of benefits in most private sector companies. Another way to look at this, is that you must add more than $10,000 to the salary of a County employee to come up with an apples and apples comparison to a private sector salary.

How does this happen? County employees can retire with full benefits at 50 years of age with 30 years of service. They pay just 5% of their salary for their retirement package, while the taxpayers pick up the tab for nearly three times that amount. They pay just $25 per month for medical insurance until they are eligible for Medicare at age 65.

Worse the County is not putting money aside to pay all these benefits. For example, the County is currently obligated to pay more than $20 million for retirement medical insurance, but has not put aside a single penny to make good on the promised benefits. Where will the money come from? You guessed it – tax increases on YOU.

Benefit obligations like these are what have driven a number of cities and counties (Detroit is just the latest example) to file for bankruptcy. Concern about these obligations led the State to pass a law offering cities and counties the ability to create less costly benefit plans. Both Knox County and the City of Knoxville have acted to contain these costs. The Blount County Commission has not even discussed this problem.

Commissioner Burkhalter gets his “facts” wrong
At the Commission meeting, when I pointed out the extraordinary cost of the Sheriff’s department employee benefits, Commissioner Burkhalter argued that the costs listed were not all benefits. He called attention to 500205 account line for $6600, and claimed it was for County general liability insurance. He went on to say, that if this and the employer paid portion of Social Security were deducted, the benefits cost would approach that of private industry. His comments were reported in the Daily Times.

His comments were wrong on all counts. The employer paid portion of Social Security is included in benefits cost calculations by private industry. The 500205 account covers the cost of county paid dependent health care. The 500207 account covers the county paid cost of individual heath care. None of the line items have anything to do with county general liability. Our County Finance Director has confirmed these facts. Bottom line, our benefits costs are indeed nearly double those of most private employers.

We cannot hope to solve the difficult problems facing the County, if we do not take the time to get our facts straight.

Ron McTigue, a citizen who cared
Ron McTigue passed away on June19th. Until his health failed, Ron was a regular attendee at these Commission meetings. He understood, that only vigilance by the citizens, can assure good government. He spoke at many meetings, and was unique in his ability to get us to laugh at our predicaments. I am sure he is bringing a new level of joy to heaven.

Ron was a Marine who cared deeply and fought for this nation.

Ron McTigue, Semper Fi.

We will always love and remember you.

Only YOU can change YOUR government

Please attend the Commission meeting on Sept. 19th at 7:00pm in Room430 of the Courthouse.