- Special Sections
- Public Notices
To: Steve Davis, acting commissioner
of the state Department of Public Health
From: Worried Anderson County taxpayers
Dear Mr. Davis;
We are absolutely thrilled to hear that you will make an appearance during the Anderson County Board of Health meeting, scheduled for Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the lower level of the Extension building.
A bunch of us wouldn’t miss the opportunity to see you in person, being that it was you who in 2008 finally caved in to the health board’s incessant demand to construct a new building after saying no several times.
While we’re not 100 percent sure why you have chosen to grace us with such an honor, we certainly hope it isn’t based only on the bad things you’ve read about our health department in The Anderson News.
We do have some weighty concerns, but we’ll get to those in a moment.
Although Ben Carlson, the agitator who covers the health board for the newspaper, certainly has made some salient and relevant points of late, we taxpayers want you to know that we aren’t overly concerned that health director Brandon Hurley let the grass grow too high or about the number of cars parked in front of the building. Carlson wrote recently that the most he’s ever seen is two, but three have been spotted by others on several occasions.
Besides, the grass (well OK, it’s mostly weeds now) is being kept neatly mowed since Carlson unnecessarily referred to the new building as an “eyesore.”
Heck, Mr. Davis, we’ve even gotten past the decision to waste $2 million on the new building. After all, there’s no sense in crying over spilled money forever, is there?
Our concerns, Mr. Davis, are financial and we’re hoping that by being proactive and bringing them to your attention now, you’ll use your visit Wednesday night to teach our health board and director how to fix the hole in the health department’s budget. That hole is so big that the department is flushing somewhere in the range of $15,000 a month right down the new building’s commodes, and there is apparently no end in sight.
Certainly you must be aware of this, right? After all, one of our health board members, Joy Hoskins, is listed on the state health department’s website in the line just below you. Boy! No wonder she knows so much about this stuff!
In case you aren’t aware, please allow us to fill you in. When you finally threw your hands in the air and allowed the new building, the health board and department were both fiscally strong. In fact, they had overtaxed us so much that the state threatened to cut off funding unless they figured out how to spend some of the cash they had compiled.
But instead of giving us a tax break and simply expanding its new building, the health board (Joy was one of those who recommended it!) went whole hog and voted for the most expensive option available: a new building near Walmart.
Our health director and his supporters on the health board obviously weren’t aware that the economy was already in trouble in 2008 and figured to get worse.
They also weren’t aware that a bad economy was likely to force the federal government to slash Medicaid funding, nor that the director had stuffed money into his budget by improperly billing the school system for public nurses and had to knock that off immediately.
Those problems threw the director’s budget for a loop, forcing the once-flush health board to plow over $300,000 in reserve cash into the health department over the past two years.
What was nearly a $1 million surplus is now down to around $175,000, and if the director doesn’t stop flushing roughly $13,000 a month down one of his new building’s commodes, only massive layoffs, reductions in service or a huge tax increase will save it.
Oh, the health board has tried. Earlier this year members ordered the director to figure out how to stop losing so much money, but he’s had other obligations, including four trips to other states in the first six months of the year.
So, Mr. Davis, we are all begging you to use your visit here Wednesday to help us find a way out of this awful problem