Come on 7 or 11

Jefferson County will have a new committee meeting this week to address the County audit findings. The committee is State mandated and that should tell us something. We are in the radar of the State government and they don’t like what they see. We have a multi million dollar deficit of nearly $ 5 million dollars and growing every year. Some members of the County Commission appear to not grasp the seriousness of the situation that we find ourselves. Add to that the uncertainty of Jefferson Memorial Hospital lease, and the outlook is a bit scary. We could, in a very short matter of time, find ourselves owing a hefty tab to the State of Tennessee and losing a significant amount of income from the hospital lease. Should the sell of Tennova get the nod from the government, we will most likely have to renegotiate the lease on the hospital and it is very iffy if we will get the sweet financial deal that we got from Tennova. Certainly, there are some in the County that would rather have a lesser deal with a non profit company and that is something that we may have to decide in the next year. The point is that, even if we agree to the proposed change, our bargaining position may have changed, as well.

We know that we owe the $5 million that is supposed to be put aside to close the landfill and we face a possibility that we may lose or decrease the hospital lease. We are currently using that money to help balance the budget. If we were talking about personal finances and owing the government a hefty chunk of change while facing a possible decline in income, most of us would be in the panic mode. If not all out nervous breakdown, even the most stalwart would be concerned. I guess that I am still looking for concern on the faces of the people that have the power to make decisions. I can worry about the bottom line and you can worry about the bottom line but we don’t have a vote until next year. And that may be too late to matter. The truth is that the landfill issue was not created overnight, but it has been an audit finding for several years. And the truth is that our elected officials cannot control whether Tennova decides to sell to yet another for profit company but they were warned that earmarking those funds for necessities could result in trouble. Tennova has been ripe for sell or take over for awhile now and it only takes a little investigating to see that there was an opening for this to happen. I wonder just how much any of our decision makers knows about Community Health Systems. There appears to be some concerns on that front, as well. Perhaps the meeting of the audit committee will be the first step in moving the County down a solid fiscal path. Where they will find $5 million dollars or how they will satisfy the State remains to be seen. We seem to have adopted a roll the dice philosophy in Jefferson County and so far we have been fairly lucky. The problem is that the more you roll the dice, the greater the odds that you will crap out. 

Source: K. Depew, News Director