Craven County Board of Commissioners Meeting Monday, 20Feb17, Trillium, FQHC etc.

Craven County Board of Commissioners Meeting
Monday, 20 February 2017 
8:30 a.m.

This meeting of the Craven County Board of Commissioners was especially disappointing.  Clearly an abuse of the “Consent Agenda” occurred Monday even after I had called it to the attention of all commissioners.  They made it perfectly clear that my concern did not bother them one bit.  They included a proclamation praising the work of Trillium without any public discussion.  However, I’m sure there was plenty of behind-the-doors discussion among commissioners.

Let’s take another look at Trillium.  Commissioner Dacey is on one of the boards of Trillium.   He reported at a Commissioners’ meeting in August this year that Trillium serves a 24 county area in coastal North Carolina.  It has 187,000 eligible assistance recipients in that area, and they manage over $444 million dollars in federal fees.  They contract out all services and actually perform none themselves.  In other words, they are the agency that doles out federal dollars to providers of these services for people who need them and are eligible for them.

Some good came of my disclosing all this to our CCTA members and friends.  A family member of one of the folks eligible to receive services through Trillium called me to discuss the Trillium service.  She stated that her family member was on a 10 year waiting list for that service!  She said that she knows of many cases where that is true.  She also said that, while this is going on, several employees of Trillium have salaries in the $500,000 range.  It sounds a lot like the Veterans Administration, doesn’t it?  Well, they are both federal government programs, aren’t they?  I guess it’s one more part of the huge swamp that needs draining; do you think the President even knows about this part yet???  Anyone want to volunteer to write or call him?

Scott Dacey, who has stated that he is on the board of Trillium,  requested the resolution that you can read HERE.  Then, Scott voted in favor of it.  Do you see that as a conflict of interest?  It feels like Scott is representing Trillium rather than the people who elected him.  Sad.
All members of the Board of Commissioners voted in favor of:

1) The resolution in favor  of Trillium.
2) To spend $734,149 from a NC grant and $81,572 of Craven County taxpayers money to raise houses in the FEMA flood zones that experience frequent flooding.

3) To proceed with the Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC).
The FQHC will hire more county employees for a total of $360,000 more for salaries, FICA, retirement benefits, 401K, dental coverage, disability coverage, life insurance, etc.

Not a single Commissioner resisted any of these staff recommendations to spend even more taxpayers money!  How well represented do you feel?  (Commissioner Theron McCabe and Commissioner Jason Jones did show some resistance to the decision to raise the sticker rate for disposing of garbage by county residents.)

The FY 2018 Budget Overview revealed very little that is new to us. Education spending is up as is the total county spending. The presentation mostly concentrated on what a good job staff and commissioners have done in saving up taxpayers funds to be able to spend on other programs they will initiate in the coming year.

The stated goal is for the fund balance to be 18% to 25% of the annual budget at the end of each fiscal year.  Last June, it was $33.1 million dollars, or 24%.  Having a reserve is healthy.  I applaud it.

However, Commissioner George Liner said that, if this year’s ending fund balance should be above 25%, he didn’t want it to go into the Capital Reserve Fund (funds set aside for capital improvements over the coming 5 years).  Instead, he wanted to consider keeping funds in the general fund “because we can be more flexible with that.”

There was no talk of cutting taxes if the fund balance went above 25%.

There was no talk of cutting any expenses.

They also discussed key legislative issues to take up with the NC General Assembly. There are 14 of them. They mostly ask for state funding of programs they would like to have in the county. About half of them make sense to us. Read those HERE if you are interested.

Respectfully submitted,

Hal James, Chairman, CCTA’s Watchdog Committee

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