After Monday's Knox County Commission Work Session and the vocal support for a resolution asking Governor Haslam to delay the closing of Lakeshore for two additional years. TN Commissioner of Mental Health Doug Varney came to Knox County today to meet with Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett and members of the Knox County Commission.
The Commissioners present were Jeff Ownby of the fourth district, Second District's Amy Broyles, Eighth District Dave Wright, At Large Commissioner Ed Shouse, Vice Chairman Brad Anders, Fifth District Dr. Richard Briggs and Chairman Mike Hammond. Knox County Law Director Joe Jarrett was present as well.
Commissioner Varney explained the rationale for the closure and the move to replace the state run facility by moving the patients to community run private facilities. Varney indicates that the $20 million in annual state funds will follow the Lakeshore patients to an agreed plan of treatment. Varney also indicated that a reduction of 75 beds was only a savings of $3 million dollars. The only way to capture a big savings is to close a state run facility and move those dollars to private sector providers. He also said that running a state run facility for the purpose of being an employment provider was not being responsible in a tight budget year.
Vice Chairman Brad Anders encouraged Varney to produce and provide a process map for the closure. Anders pointed out the failure several years ago of DRI/DOC and that a process map was necessary for this to be a successful transition. Varney pledged to produce that process map and get it to County Mayor Tim Burchett by the first of the week.
Varney thanked the County Mayor for calling the Governor who called Varney and told him to get over here and meet with the Mayor and Commission. This got a few laughs. Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett summed up the situation to Varney by saying, "we trust but will verify" It is great having Mayor Burchett!