I hope everyone had a great Fourth of July. We’ve been busy behind the scenes keeping up and influencing issues that affect your wallet and continuing to represent your interests with public officials. Here’s a summary of what’s going on this month:
1. July 16th Town Hall Meeting at the Eastpoint Firehouse—our topic for the evening will be Eastpoint Water and Sewer. Meeting starts at 6:30.
2. July 23rd Franklin County Budget Workshop at the Courthouse Annex. Workshop begins at 9:00
3. Weems Hospital Renovation/New Construction
4. Continued efforts to have the Clerk of Court’s Office undergo an external Operational Audit
Several individuals are concerned that Eastpoint Water and Sewer District has become unresponsive to the needs of its users. The CCFC was contacted to facilitate a meeting to help EPWSD users to develop a plan to address their local concerns. The CCFC has not expressed an opinion on the issues and will only function as a facilitator for those wishing to move forward in an organized and cohesive manner. Everyone is invited to participate.
This year’s tax digest is flat once again. Unfortunately, the Board of County Commissioners left the door open for County Departments and Constitutional Officers to ask for increased funding over last year. The Department of Health is asking for an additional $210,000 alone. With flat valuations on properties anticipated in the county, there will be a push to increase the millage rate yet again. Anyone interested in helping the CCFC on Thursday the 23rd is invited to contact the undersigned. There is strength in numbers…believe it!
The USDA approved an approximate $10 million loan for Weems Hospital. The BOCC has approved the loan documents but is under no obligation to move forward and in fact, voted at the last BOCC meeting not to spend additional funds on the new hospital until after a workshop is undertaken to better understand the process, facts and issues associated with moving forward. Let me make this crystal clear for CCFC members; management of the Weems Hospital System, including the Hospital Board is the best since we began following the ongoing problems and issues. Our problem is that we believe that given the lack of profitability of Weems, its heavy reliance on local and ever declining federal dollars to keep the doors open and with a small population to draw from, that Weems Hospital as currently configured and planned is not economically viable and will continue to be a significant drain on the community while providing an ever smaller percentage of care within the community. This is the discussion that has never been held.
This Tuesday, July 7th the BOCC will receive its annual audited financial statement. The CCFC believes that due to issues related to internal controls within the Clerk’s Office that the release of the audit was extensively delayed. The CCFC believes that the audit will not replace the need for an independent outside operational audit to address multiple issues including missing funds, failure of internal controls and other issues that do not lend confidence to the ongoing fair, open and transparent operation of the Clerk’s Office. The CCFC has reason to believe there are other issues beyond the theft by the Clerk’s niece of in excess of $225,000 (and perhaps as much as $325,000) that scream for an independent set of eyes, that at this time, the Clerk has refused. I hope you will attend Tuesday’s BOCC meeting if at all possible so you can witness what happens when and if this issue comes up. It is worth noting that the Clerk has not attended a BOCC meeting since February.
It always seems that there is drama in Franklin County. Let me say that Franklin County has so very much to recommend it. We may be no more corrupt or inefficient at times than other counties. However, Franklin County is our county and we focus on what we see and know about. The very fact that we are so small has led to a system rife with nepotism and self-interested relationships. Please stand with us as we protect your wallet and best interests for open, affordable, efficient and responsive county government in one of the highest taxing counties in the State.
Allan J. Feifer
Concerned Citizens of Franklin County, Inc.
P.O. Box 990
Eastpoint, Florida 32328
“The Concerned Citizens of Franklin County, Inc. serves as a citizens’ 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.”