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Concerned Citizens of
Franklin County, Inc.
PO Box 990
Eastpoint, Florida32328
(850) 653-5571

An Open Letter to our Franklin County Commissioners - The Wolf is at the Door

on Friday, 15 December 2017.

The Wolf is at the Door

Last Tuesday afternoon there was a Commissioner Workshop to discuss the pending/proposed Franklin County Government and Community Healthcare Corporation (CHC) Agreement to manage Weems Healthcare System. The contract as proposed is between the County and CHC and not with Weems because CHC does not have the confidence that Weems can pay them and has demanded that the County back the Agreement. This demonstrates the low level of confidence CHC has in Weems viability right at the get go.

And, this comes on the heels of Commissioners firing TMH last month starting a 90 day clock that will result in the loss of our Chief Executive Officer at Weems. Without a CEO, by law, Weems must close immediately.

And, this is after CHC was paid $55,000 for an Operational Assessment (OA) approved in April of this year. The OA broke no new ground for anyone on the local scene but changed CHC’s role from an anticipated risk sharing partner to one of damage control intermediary. CHC stated as much at the Workshop by continuing to reference the short term nature of the contract and the need to take at least six months to see if there is anything substantive they can do to turn around Weems. In fact the term “Best Efforts” was continually used by CHC to characterize their level of responsibility both legally and operationally. Best Efforts is the lowest legal bar there is. When County Attorney Shuler asked for a higher level of liability, he was rebuffed by CHC.

County Commissioners have tried to put a good face on it, but over and over it was evident to everyone in the audience, there were no metrics for success and no plan that CHC was willing to hang their financial hat on. So for everyone’s benefit, here are some of the key issues that the CHC Agreement will not achieve:

  1. There will be no measuring stick to ensure progress as its not in the Agreement
  2. There is no timetable that would back up a measuring stick, if it were included.
  3. CHC will be paid $30,000 a month, but has no defined set of responsibilities for which it is accountable. Anything not specifically covered in the Agreement, they are silent on.
  4. CHC has requested additional expenses of up to $60,000 a year; 12 months times $5,000 a month, but has not clearly defined what those expenses would be.
  5. CHC hires the CEO and pays him/her but passes along those costs to the County in addition to the monthly fee of $30,000. And, is demanding relocation money and other employment guarantees no matter what happens to the Agreement with the County.
  6. CHC has indicated the need to hire additional consultants from time-to-time with some of those consultants being CHC employees or affiliates but without any budget or forecast, just the assurance that the BOCC can veto a request for consultants.
  7. CHC is unwilling to be responsible for any mistake, even their own, no matter what the repercussions as long as they applied their “best efforts” to the decision making and execution process. This still leaves the County Commission fully exposed both financially and legally.
  8. CHC wants the County to name it Additional Insured under its various policies, but refuses to protect the county reciprocally for its bad acts.
  9. CHC has never run an ambulance or EMS service, but says it’s “game” to take on ours if they have to!
  10. Most importantly, CHC after spending $55,000 to “study” Weems did not tie its report into anything actionable going forward.

Last month, Weems came to the Commission once again to ask for money to meet payroll. Now they have been grudgingly approved for up to another three payrolls, about $540,000. Keep in mind that we still owe $690,000 from last year and owe TMH another $650,000 and that’s not all the money that Weems owes. We are going down the same rabbit hole we’ve gone down before. Even if we can make a deal with CHC, the need for more cash is critical, not to expand and thrive, but just to hang on. CHC will likely cost the County another $750,000 to a $1,000,000 in additional costs during the first 12 months of this Agreement. Promises made without any downside to CHC are as so much Pie in the Sky. We wonder; do even the Commissioners have any confidence in a good result?

What Commissioner will have the strength to speak the truth? The truth Weems cannot go it alone one day more. It is time to do what has been obvious for years; invite Sacred Heart to make a proposal that in one stroke would deliver better health care to the citizens of Franklin County, protect jobs and guarantee an end to raids on the Peoples’ Treasury. It is our belief that there are zero negatives to asking for a proposal. Are we going to wait until the Hospital is forced to close or is in such bad financial shape that we have no ability to negotiate at all? Are we waiting for the State to shut us down? The wolf is at the door and it is no one’s fault but ours.

Allan J. Feifer
Concerned Citizens of Franklin County, Inc.

Momentum and A Call to Action

on Tuesday, 10 April 2018.

Hello Friends:

George Weems hospital operations have lost over $15 million during the past 10 years. Yet, they have not been able to provide the basic necessary services, financial stability and good health care outcomes the citizens of Franklin County deserve. With this letter, I am happy to report new and substantial movement on the local health care front. At the request of the County, Sacred Heart (together with its parent organization Accession Health Systems) has made a proposal to build and operate a state-of-the-art mini hospital within Franklin County. It would be larger and more capable than any previous proposals

Sacred Heart operates at least two other of these so called “Medical Mall” facilities in Florida currently. The facility would either provide onsite care or coordinated care with its other facilities and cover the full range of Preventative, Acute and Emergency care in a brand new facility, much larger than had been proposed by consultants to Weems. Doctors, Clinicians and other staff would be fully staffed and credentialed for the healthcare specialty area in which they would work, unlike the present situation. (For example, the physician who currently staffs the Emergency Room at Weems is NOT a credentialed ER doctor.)

The new facility could be potentially built in Eastpoint making it more centrally located for the residents of Franklin County and most importantly of all; most Franklin County citizens would have access to emergency intervention within the Golden Hour for crises like heart attack and stroke that Weems is unable to effectively treat today. The new facility would employ many local citizens and as it grew with the addition of Doctors and additional rotating services, even more employment opportunities would develop over time. SH would cover the full range of ailments here in Franklin County including Physical Therapy, Speech/Hearing Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Minor Surgical Procedures, Diagnostic Tests and state-of-the art Imaging including Ultrasound. Most of these specialties are not available now or nor are they proposed for the Weems Renovation as presented. The proposed all new SH 27,500 square foot facility would require “No Upfront Cash Outlay” from the County and would bring together under one treatment roof many of the services that Franklin County patients must now leave the county to find.

A private Developer would build the so called “Medical Mall” facility and lease it to a new Hospital Authority to be created by the County. Sacred Heart would become a major risk-sharing partner. (The County has been unable to find another such risk-sharing partner as of this date.)

Today, virtually half of Weems income is subsidies. As these subsidies have begun to dry up, Weems future has been seriously in doubt. (Those in attendance at the March’s Hospital Board Meeting were given a negative read on this SH proposal, mainly centering on the loss of jobs -20 was the figure thrown out - and “local control.

However, “local control” has not been the answer to the Weems shortcomings and monies are hemorrhaging out of the facility weekly! ) Another negative comment amounting to a ‘scare tactic’ was the risk of Sacred Heart abandoning the facility and leaving the Hospital Authority holding the bag. But any contract, if written by a knowledgeable attorney on behalf of Franklin County, would surely cap risk and protect the County’s interests.

Here is a link to Sacred Heart’s Proposal for you to review for yourself:

http://www.abetterfranklin.com/images/PDFs/Franklin_County_Health_Services_Proposal_20180316.pdf

I encourage everyone to read this proposal closely and voice their opinion that Franklin County needs 21st Century medical care to attract to our beautiful county those goodpaying jobs and retirees who expect adequate health care. Haven’t the County Commissioners tried to be Hospital Administrators long enough? Let’s turn the job over to professionals who have already clearly demonstrated their commitment to local healthcare in our area for these many years. (Shockingly, statistics show that SH already cares for more Franklin County citizens than Weems does already.)

So folks, here we are once again at a crossroads. As a participant at this particular circus for the past 16 years, I’ve seen opportunities come and go. This proposal, on its face is a huge homerun for the citizens of Franklin County. Yet, the hand wringing and gnashing of teeth by County Commissioners is once again on full display. If you, like me, think this is the best deal we are going to ever see for good healthcare in Franklin County, pick up your phone, Tweet, email or Facebook everyone you can to support this proposal and not kill it off through either indecision or underhanded pandering to this or that political group. This is as good as it gets friends

I’d love to hear your opinions as well. Please call or write us if you have comments.

Thank you for your support of the CCFC. Some of our readers have not paid their 2018 dues yet. Please remember us if you can. Not a member? No problem, click on... http://abetterfranklin.com/index.php/join-ccfc Join today. We depend on your support!

Thank you!

Sincerely,

Allan J. Feifer
President
Concerned Citizens of Franklin County, Inc.
P.O. Box 990
Eastpoint, Florida 32328
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
ABetterFranklin.com
(850) 653-5571

“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.”

Commissioner Contacts:

Cheryl Sanders - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - 697-2534

Chairman-Commissioner Smokey Parrish - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - 653-8790

Commissioner Ricky Jones - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - 653-8861

Commissioner Noah Lockley - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - 653-4452

Commissioner William Massey - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - 653-8861

CCFC-Good Stewards of the Purse

on Wednesday, 13 June 2018.

Hello Friends:

There is positive movement on the health front. Today, we are concentrating on this year’s budget kickoff. Here are a few of our concerns and information we’d like to share with you.

Franklin County is managed by individual department heads who report directly to county Commissioners as well as our elected Constitutional Officers who are required to request their annual budgets from the County Commission. Franklin County’s current budget of $52 million supports a population of approximately 10,000, not including state inmates. Small county we may be, but county taxes, to the tune of over $5,000 for every man, woman and child, puts our county budget at the very top rank of county spending per capita in the state.

Absent a County Manager, many of the county’s key financial decisions are made by well-meaning but too often financially inexperienced, individuals who perform well on the operational side of their position, but struggle with sophisticated financial decisions and operations that may be above and beyond their everyday duties and skills.

Questions that need to be asked and issues that need to be addressed by every department and constitutional officer before they make capital requests or before they submit a budget request are:

  • What is the economic life of an asset? Every piece of capital equipment should have an asset card associated with it that tracks its history and helps predict future obsolescence.
  • Does each piece of equipment follow a prescribed preventative maintenance program to maximize its life? Who ensures that standards are met?
  • Is there a standardized approach to the acquisition of capital equipment through open bidding or does the county leave that up to the individual discretion of constitutionals and department heads?
  • When financing is involved, does the county have an annual arrangement with a financial institution to acquire equipment for the lowest possible finance cost? Is this arrangement transparent and open to competition?
  • Under what conditions should leasing of equipment be sought? Leasing is rarely the most economic form of ownership for county government. Exceptions are capital leases with a defined buyout.
  • Does every county department have a mission statement that clearly states what is expected of that department and its employees so they can budget to that requirement?
  • Does the county undertake a periodic operational review by a qualified company to look for opportunities for savings and efficiencies that exist in every operational area?
  • In department and overall county-wide, is there a shared assumption by staff, management and commissioners to attempt to operate within the current year’s budget footprint when they submit their next budget? While not always possible, a stated goal/policy to aggressively attempt to keep costs level.
  • Is there anyone tasked by county leadership who looks for ways to reduce spending, increase efficiency and provide better services to the citizens?
  • Is there a countywide personnel policy and compensation program that employees can rely on for day-to-day operations and promotion guidance?
  • Be wary of “Free Money,” aka grants that are a huge part of our budget. Many grants start you off but don’t sustain that purpose over time. This means that when the grant money runs out, the county frequently continues paying for whatever activity or person that was at first “free.”
  • County leaders should expect and budget for excess funds not used in a budget year. There must not be a mad rush to expend every dollar to bolster next year’s request.

As we enter this year’s budget cycle, those that request and approve budgets should be cognizant of recent spending increases. In 2012-13, the county budget was approximately $38 million. The most recent budget saw a $14 million increase in spending to the current $52 million. That is a 37 percent increase in five years. That is substantial and hard to justify by our way of thinking when population numbers have not increased and no new services have been introduced. Has the population grown or number of visitors demanding services substantially changed?

After several years of increases in financial spending, it’s time for a pause in the annual “Fleecing of the Lambs.” We the taxpayers and citizens are all, of course, those “Lambs!”

The CCFC is asking the county commission to pledge a “no net increase in millage rate taxes” this year. Ask your representatives if they are willing to take the pledge.

I’d love to hear your opinions as well. Please call or write us if you have comments.

Thank you for your support of the CCFC. Some of our readers have not paid their 2018 dues yet. Please remember us if you can. Not a member? No problem, click on... http://abetterfranklin.com/index.php/join-ccfc Join today. We depend on your support!

Thank you!

Sincerely,

Allan J. Feifer
President
Concerned Citizens of Franklin County, Inc.
P.O. Box 990
Eastpoint, Florida 32328
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
ABetterFranklin.com
(850) 653-5571

“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.”

Commissioner Contacts:

Cheryl Sanders - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - 697-2534

Chairman-Commissioner Smokey Parrish - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - 653-8790

Commissioner Ricky Jones - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - 653-8861

Commissioner Noah Lockley - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - 653-4452

Commissioner William Massey - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - 653-8861

CCFC News “Other People’s Money”

on Saturday, 28 July 2018.

Hello Friends:

The annual budget process is a three step procedure.

  1. Finance, at the direction to the Clerk’s Office, requests all Department Heads and Constitutional Officers submit their budget requests by June first. They were further instructed not to request additional funds over last year’s approved budgets without appearing at the County Commission Meeting prior to the Budget Workshop.
  2. The actual two day budget workshop was held on July 19th and 20th. There were few, if any issues. The initially proposed millage rate of 6.3460 was more than the rollback rate of 6.1524. FYI the rollback millage rate is the rate that would bring in the same amount of ad valorem tax as the current year to fund the budget at this year’s funding level. At the conclusion of the Workshop, the millage rate was set at 6.2762. The additional proposed millage rate will bring in about $400,000 more Ad Valorem tax than last year and increase your taxes by an average of 2%. Your TRIM Notices will reflect this level of proposed spending.
  3. Two separate Budget Adoption Hearings will be held in September. Commissioners can lower the millage rate at these hearings, but they cannot raise them.

The several hundred page proposed budget was not available until a few hours before the Workshop and therefore no one did any detailed analysis of spending and any means of creating offsetting cost savings. I hope this was not by design. While the Ad Valorem tax is the most noticeable and talked about aspect of the budget, it is only a portion of the proposed $51 million plus budget. The county takes in millions of dollars in other taxes, grants and fees that are uncounted in favor of concentrating on the politically visible millage rate. Franklin County will take in hundreds of thousands of dollars more this coming year than during this current year not even counting ad valorem taxes. Yet, there is no discussion of what actually drives the need to raise taxes on people again this year, as has been done for the previous three years.

No one raised their hand to or suggested to staff to offset the increased spending with savings in other areas. To put this in perspective, a less than 1% cut in the budget would deliver no tax increase this year. Why not look for savings?

The budget buster this year was outgoing Commissioner Cheryl Sanders request for a 3% COLA this year instead of the 1.5% proposed by Finance. This will cost the county an additional $135,000 over Finance’s recommendation.

Afterwards, some of the other Commissioners told me they were not pleased, but the damage was done.

Between now and the Budget Adoption Hearings in September, we will review and study the budget document, looking for those savings. We will present them to the Board of Commissioners once again in the spirit of helpfulness for their consideration.

In addition to budget matters, the CCFC is also making a major push to have Franklin County follow State Law and provide the opportunity at all public meetings and workshops to address our Commissioners before they vote on specific issues as is required by law before a vote is taken. As of today, the Commission only allows onesided public statements to be made at the beginning of County Commission meetings, and there is no comment or action currently allowed by Commissioners during that time. More than one person has taken their time to come to a meeting to offer input into an agenda item and only been given a perfunctory “Thank You” as their only acknowledgment. This is extremely disheartening to someone who believes in good democratic government and the right of the people to seek a response from their elected leaders.

The CCFC has sent to all Commissioners copies of the Public Engagement Policies from Wakulla and Gulf Counties which codify the right of individuals to speak to their Commissioners at various times during a meeting, and most importantly, before a vote is taken on an issue of personal concern. We have asked Commissioners to broaden their current policy and engage their electorate in the proper manner and with respect and patience. We believe that should be their job.

The CCFC would like to remain positive and upbeat concerning the public’s chances of being treated fairly. Sadly, not all Commissioners buy in to the concept of public involvement and as a consequence, we frequently arrive at an adversarial position. We are not convinced that Commissioners really appreciate the obvious…that it’s not their money, but yours. Let’s hold them accountable and remind them from time to time, and while we are at it, let’s remind them that the best interests of Franklin County’s people and not narrow special interests must always come first.

I’d love to hear your opinions as well. Please call or write us if you have comments.

Thank you for your support of the CCFC. Some of our readers have not paid their 2018 dues yet. Please remember us if you can. Not a member? No problem, click on... http://abetterfranklin.com/index.php/join-ccfc Join today. We depend on your support!

Thank you!

Sincerely,

Allan J. Feifer
President
Concerned Citizens of Franklin County, Inc.
P.O. Box 990
Eastpoint, Florida 32328
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
ABetterFranklin.com
(850) 653-5571

“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.”

Commissioner Contacts:

Cheryl Sanders - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - 697-2534

Chairman-Commissioner Smokey Parrish - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - 653-8790

Commissioner Ricky Jones - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - 653-8861

Commissioner Noah Lockley - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - 653-4452

Commissioner William Massey - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - 653-8861

The Rising Tide of Rising Taxes

on Tuesday, 28 August 2018.

Hello Friends:

By now you have received your 2018 TRIM Notice. For most of us, you will see a significant rise in your proposed taxes. Some Franklin County taxpayers are seeing total County and School increases from 5-18%. What does your own notice show? This is to discuss the County’s share of this increase, which is the fourth in as many years. This harkens back to those days 13 years ago – just before the nationwide recession - when those in the County leadership believed that rising assessments gave them permission to increase spending. Extra monies resulted in frivolous projects with no long term benefits for today.

Now, rising assessments are back.

In fact, Franklin County has an embarrassment of riches. We have no debt and by our accounting perhaps as much as $7.5 million in reserves and other (non-constrained accounts and additional) sources of money at the disposal of the County Commission. In fact, we believe there is a possibility that Franklin County is violating State law in having more in available reserves than the statutory maximum of 10%. (This would include all the pots of money that are reprogrammable by Commissioners) Some say great, we are hurricane prone and need reserves. But just how much is enough? It’s never discussed and in point of fact, FEMA picks up the vast amount of hurricane expenses. It’s another reason that Franklin County lives at the top of the list for most per capita taxes among Florida counties.

We have sent “Franklin County Fiscal Year 2018-2019 Proposed Budget” analysis to both Commissioners and Finance for comment for potential action on lowering the millage rate so taxes would not have to be increased this year. Our requests have been deferred until the first Budget Adoption Hearing. And, with the arrogant new public access policy adopted this month, citizens are virtually barred from having a conversation with their Commissioners at this meeting or any Public Meeting. Here is a link if you would like to view:

http://abetterfranklin.com/images/PDFs/CCFC-Franklin-County-Budget-Analysis-2018-2019.pdf

All numbers derived from County Documents.

Webster’s Dictionary defines Conversation as:

  1. Oral exchange of sentiments, observations, opinions, or ideas
  2. An informal discussion of an issue by representatives of governments, institutions, or groups

This right of an exchange of thoughts or suggestions has been taken away by a recent act of fiat of the Board. I promise you this will not survive. This leadership conduct is the epitome of a kind of hubris not often seen except in governmental operations not held accountable. It is insulting and vile to the conscience. You only have to experience the awful feeling once of finally getting up the nerve to stand up there alone on an issue of importance to you and to be totally ignored (one Commissioner frequently leaves the room during public comments) or stopped in mid-sentence as the small amount of allotted time expires, or told to “go back where you came from” or asked “are you finished yet.” The not-so-subtle message is that, even as a member of the voting public, you have no standing with your own Commission or District Commissioner. How is it possible that one’s own Commissioner does not stand up for the rights of their constituents or demand courtesy toward their electorate? But, no one does.

There is something you can do to demand attention from your Commission who has the ability to lower or maintain your current tax rate. Come to the Adoption Hearing on September 4th and speak. On my own, I can be ignored. But, if a roomful of citizens demands their rightful hearings, and demonstrate that the County does not need this tax increase, Commissioners will get the message. We need to demand that Commissioners direct staff to submit budgets that do not raise taxes! If our voices are heard, such magic will happen because of YOUR involvement and commitment!

We go to these Hearings, workshops and other venues to better understand the intricacies of a 50 million dollar budget as well as to make the public aware of the unnecessary tax increases that are being demanded of our local taxpayers. For example, Wakulla’s proposed budget is half of ours on a per capita basis (not counting their Enterprise Fund for Economic Development). Gulf County’s proposed budget is virtually the same as ours but their population is half again as large. At Franklin County meetings, you will be given this or that excuse for why our budget is higher than may seem appropriate or necessary. However, it is the huge amount of cash that we possess that turns $19,309,426 (Estimated Revenue Sources) into a $50 plus million dollar budget.

Please consider contacting the CCFC to see what you can do to help lower your own taxes this year. Come sit in the audience and either speak or glare at the stewards of your county. Write them, speak to them on the streets and let them know how you feel about these continuing patterns of unnecessary tax hikes. If I am the only person sitting there in that courtroom on September 4th, they will receive the message that no one else objects to their ‘fundraising.” They will continue the cycle of overspending and rewarding themselves and their friends handsomely in the process.

A less than 1% cut in the budget would deliver no tax increase this year. Why not ask all departments and Constitutionals to find savings on behalf of the county’s taxpayers?

The budget buster this year was Commissioner Cheryl Sanders’ request for a 3% cost- of-living increase this year instead of the 1.5% proposed by Finance. This will cost the county an additional $135,000. One wonders if this was meant to be a ‘taxpayer gift’ from outgoing commissioner Sanders. Other Commissioners later told me they were not pleased by Sanders disregard of the county’s own finance department, but no objections were registered during the meeting so the damage was done.

Between now and the Budget Adoption Hearings in September, we will continue to review and study the budget document with the additional help of outside accounting professionals, looking for more potential savings. Once again, we will present our recommendations to the Board of Commissioners in the spirit of helpfulness for their consideration.

On September 4th at 5:15 in the Courthouse Annex, the first of two Budget Adoption Hearings will be held. Please consider your attendance as a mandatory part of living in Franklin County. Remember, we get the government we deserve when we don’t participate.

We’d love to hear your opinions as well. Please call or write us if you have comments.

Thank you for your support of the CCFC. Some of our readers have not paid their 2018 dues yet. Please remember us if you can. Not a member? No problem, click on... http://abetterfranklin.com/index.php/join-ccfc Join today. We depend on your support!

Thank you!

Sincerely,

Allan J. Feifer
President
Concerned Citizens of Franklin County, Inc.
P.O. Box 990
Eastpoint, Florida 32328
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
ABetterFranklin.com
(850) 653-5571

“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.”

Commissioner Contacts:

Cheryl Sanders - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - 697-2534

Chairman-Commissioner Smokey Parrish - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - 653-8790

Commissioner Ricky Jones - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - 653-8861

Commissioner Noah Lockley - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - 653-4452

Commissioner William Massey - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - 653-8861

WHO's the BOSS???

on Friday, 28 September 2018.

Guest Editorial by: Mel Kelly (Former Mayor of Carrabelle)

I believe that the Franklin County Board of County Commissioners is out of control!

They have decided to limit public comments and input to three minutes by each person, which is allowed ONLY PRIOR to the meeting. There is no opportunity being given to add comments or ask questions about any agenda item as of now, by anyone who may attend with the hope that their input be heard on an issue of concern to them. NO COMMENTS ARE BEING ALLOWED ON ANY AGENDA ITEM EVEN THOUGH THE COMMISSIONERS DECISION OR ACTION MAY DIRECTLY AFFECT YOU, THE TAXPAYER!

Have you, as a taxpayer, attended any recent meetings of the current commissioners? Have you heard those speakers who come with legitimate comments, questions and concerns being criticized, ridiculed, insulted, ignored and dismissed for their wish to be heard by their commissioners? (More than once, we have heard with our own ears, Commissioners essentially telling a speaker to “Go back where you came from!” with NO APOLOGY, RESTRAINT or even REMORSE expressed by any other commissioner, including the Chair.) Yet, these taxpaying speakers are often funding the majority of property taxes that add to the operational funds for Franklin County.

Current property tax figures show that less than 1⁄4 - that is 23% of Franklin County taxpayers pay more than 60% - well above 1⁄2 - of the taxes collected and spent by commission approvals. And yet, those majority taxpayers are most often the subject of personal attacks - or the indignity of being ignored - by those same, self-important commissioners!

Do you know that the current 5 commissioners together pay a total of $3,325.75 in homestead property taxes to fund our county and schools? That is an average of $645.15 per commissioner’s payment. BUT, it is very important to note that, since one commissioner currently pays NOTHING and one pays a mere $50, the three others pay the remainder of that $3325.75 figure. And do you know that ONE of the current commission candidates pays more in property taxes ($4776.24) than all five seated current commissioners combined!

Is there perhaps something amiss with our assessments? Are new, out of town owners penalized for their interest and willingness to buy property in Franklin County? And it seems commissioners are most willing to take their high tax levy, just not their comments or questions in a public meeting!

How long will such high paying taxpayers continue to come to Franklin County to be insulted and demeaned and even disregarded by their county commission, whose salaries taxpayers pay? Do you know that each County Commissioner in Franklin County earns an individual salary of $27,305.00? Do you know that they receive more than $8000 annually in benefits such a health, dental, vision and life insurance at no cost to themselves? Do you know that the state of Florida adds another 48.7% of each commissioner’s salary in pension contributions? (No, that is not a typo) How many of those high paying taxpayers who are often insulted or disrespected at the speakers’ podium does it take to pay ONE commissioner’s salary, plus the additional benefits they enjoy? How many of those high paying taxpayers does it take to pay all five commission salaries at a total of $136.525.00 (without adding benefits and Florida Retirement System monies?) Conversely, how many of the tax paying commissioners who pay only $50 in annual property taxes, or even pay $0, NOTHING, in property taxes to fund the county they oversee should have a right to shut out input from other taxpayers who seek to ask legitimate questions or make comments about the county they are supporting?

The arrogance and despotism of the Franklin County commissioners must be stopped. Taxpayers should realize they are being used for their monies, while being tyrannically shut out of their right to make legitimate public commentary on behalf of decision-making efforts and the processes of government that regulate their Franklin County lives and taxes.

The election to be held on November 6th has three new candidates running for the office vacated by retiring commissioner Cheryl Sanders and one new candidate running against the incumbent Chairman, Smokey Parrish. You are encouraged to ask all candidates about their willingness to allow the taxpayers to better participate in county government. All new and current county commissioners must be held accountable and support transparency in their actions.

You are further encouraged to attend YOUR county commission meetings as your time allows. When you attend, please consider using your personal three minute allowance of free speech to tell the commissioners what you think about their decision to ‘tokenize’ taxpayers’ input into the county government. Remember, they need taxpayer dollars to operate.

Franklin County commissioners have an important job to do. How they do it may well depend upon you, THEIR BOSSES.


The CCFC has just sent a list of questions for all the Candidates running for County Commission. We will make sure that the answers we receive will be available to you prior to the start of early voting. The CCFC is non-political and supports no candidates.

We’d love to hear your opinions as well. Please call or write us if you have comments.

Thank you for your support of the CCFC. Some of our readers have not paid their 2018 dues yet. Please remember us if you can. Not a member? No problem, click on... http://abetterfranklin.com/index.php/join-ccfc Join today. We depend on your support!

Thank you!

Sincerely,

Allan J. Feifer
President
Concerned Citizens of Franklin County, Inc.
P.O. Box 990
Eastpoint, Florida 32328
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
ABetterFranklin.com
(850) 653-5571

“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.”

Commissioner Contacts:

Cheryl Sanders - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - 697-2534

Chairman-Commissioner Smokey Parrish - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - 653-8790

Commissioner Ricky Jones - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - 653-8861

Commissioner Noah Lockley - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - 653-4452

Commissioner William Massey - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. - 653-8861

A Special Message to Franklin County Property Owners

on Friday, 02 November 2018.

2018 has been extremely active for CCFC and Franklin County government. Five of seven governmental agencies in Franklin County again raised their taxes. We believe those raises were unnecessary. We brought analyses and information to budget hearings to prove the accounts could have been better managed to avoid those increases, on you, the taxpayer.

The CCFC represents those without a voice on matters of financial propriety, and seeks to secure transparency, efficiency and eliminate public corruption in Franklin County. If you ever had the feeling that you were powerless to affect change, that’s where we come in. We work with Commissioners, Hospital Board and other elected officials throughout the year. We hold elected officials to account and raise our voices to influence their deliberations and outcomes.

Please feel free to share this letter with your friends; encourage them to learn more about the work of the Concerned Citizens and to join the CCFC as new members.

Let me share with you some of this year’s CCFC efforts on behalf of best practices to achieve and guarantee transparency and a fiscally responsible, fair and accountable government for Franklin County.

  1. We have attended almost all County Commission Meetings in 2018. When appropriate and possible, we speak up with facts, concerns and alternatives which may be accepted later in deliberations.
  2. The Association frequently attends Hospital Board Meetings to primarily listen to reports and budget facts as presented. We will ask questions while pushing for accountability and logic in the expenditures for Weems Hospital operations. We hope Commissioners will finally take the CCFC’s suggestion to enter into a more sensible and successful risk-sharing partnership with Sacred Heart Hospital. This can cap the county’s liability and provide a long-promised new facility, supported by the existing hospital tax, and which may be more centrally located for all residents of Franklin County.
  3. The CCFC constantly researches best ideas and business practices, sharing them with County Departments and Constitutional Officers.
  4. We have been very involved in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael. Our county’s small voting size precludes us from securing some resources that bigger counties achieve. As CCFC president, I have personally spoken to Senator Rubio and with a representative in Senator Nelson’s office (among others) to discuss innovative and long-term solutions to specific challenges our county has.
  5. We expect (sadly not always successfully) that public meetings be held with decorum and respect toward the citizenry. We ask that the public be heard before a vote is held on agenda items. (The county currently enforces a three minute limit for each spokesperson’s public comment only at the beginning of each meeting.) We ask that public comments be heard and spokespersons be respected on agenda items before a Commission vote is taken and action implemented as was done in the past.
  6. At budget time, we are there early and often, sometimes incurring the ire of a few Commissioners who don’t like our good business suggestions and review. We are also there as often as possible at issues workshops, hearings and preliminary presentations.
  7. We often engage Federal and State representatives who can and will take our messages and good business suggestions back to county leadership using alternate messaging.
  8. We reach out through emails such as these and contribute Letters to the Editor and Guest Columns on a frequent basis. We receive and appreciate taxpayer feedback from many people who call, write or just spread our words on behalf of good government when taxpayer voices need to be heard.
  9. The CCFC continues to work with law enforcement on issues of suspected public corruption. We work with the Property Appraiser on issues of questionable assessments and exemptions that may amount to criminal fraud. We work with Constitutional Officers to continually present positive, alternative, good business methods and alternatives to help keep Franklin County taxes under better control.
  10. We engage professionals (lawyers, investigators, additional accountants) to further our mission of good, honest, representative government for Franklin County.
  11. CCFC built, maintains and operates an independent website which may be found at ABetterFranklin.com. We incur substantial mailing and other expenses to help bring taxpayers the news, behavior, decisions and actions of Franklin County Commissioners, elected Constitutional officers and other leadership.

Annually, we reach out to the community at large for help in meeting the financial challenges of continuing our work.

Many members support us with dues payment of $100 or more to ensure our continued success. But we will successfully and carefully put into action whatever you can contribute (perhaps $25, $50, $75) which will allow our year-round work to continue. We need your financial help to ensure that good government in Franklin County can and will become a reality.

Please support our important work efforts made on your behalf by putting your membership dues contribution in the mail today! Make your check payable to the CCFC and mail it to P.O. Box 990, Eastpoint Florida 32328 while it is top of mind.

(Dues are not deductible for income tax purposes)

Thank you for your generous support.

Sincerely,

Allan J. Feifer
President
Concerned Citizens of Franklin County, Inc.

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