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Budget cuts, jail contract on county agenda
by Noreen Cochran
December 10, 2013 03:55 PM | 1330 views | 0 0 comments | 20 20 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Fulton County Board of Commissioners’ special called meeting Wednesday at 9 a.m. will be a forum for debate on cuts to the 2014 budget, which takes effect Jan. 1, and a $15.6 million contract for inmate physical and mental health services with St. Louis, Mo.-based Corizon Inc.

At the board’s Dec. 4 meeting, District 39 State Sen. Vincent Fort, D-Atlanta, asked the board to reconsider its 50 percent slashing of the county’s $50 million annual payment to Grady Health Systems.

He was one of 15 speakers on the topic.

Fort, who is also a leader of the nonprofit Grady Coalition patient advocacy group, said the 2013 Legislature hobbled the county’s efforts to raise more revenue, enacting a property tax cap.

“The need for cuts to your budget was widely discussed at the state capitol,” he said.

Fort said the state needs to prevent a cut to indigent health care as the cash-strapped county struggles to close a $70 million gap.

“We need to hold some folks accountable. [Gov. Nathan Deal] has chosen not to do Medicaid expansion; 43,000 patients at Grady would otherwise have health insurance,” he said. “The state’s distribution of funds is unfairly distributed to Grady. Grady ought to get more from the state.”

Mental and physical health care at the county’s Rice Street and Union City jails will also be on today’s agenda as Vice Chair Emma Darnell demanded Sheriff Ted Jackson be present to answer questions about quantifiable performance standards like prompt exams of new prisoners and less reentry by released inmates.

Despite the presence of Flora Eatman, the sheriff’s department finance division manager, Felecia Strong Whitaker, interim purchasing manager, and George Herron, director of jail health services, Darnell said the board wants Jackson to speak.

“I think $15 million is going to require the department head to give us a little time,” she said. “No reflection on this outstanding staff.”

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