I am concerned about our poor and indigent residents who continue to fall through the cracks, receiving less than needed in both our city and county budgets often because either entity feels it is the responsibility of the other based on who is being served or the type of service being offered .It is concerning that our county leaders are acknowledging the city residency of those served under the indigent health care program as reason for considering removal of the program from the county budget. The County receives taxes from all county residents, including those living in our urban core, which provides a wider tax base for the county from which it is able to fund big ticket items such as our Department of Health and our school system. The County must not be allowed to turn its back on the indigent residents who reside in and around downtown Knoxville.
As a member of city council, I cannot guarantee that I or my colleagues will be able to implement the needed policy changes or secure the budgetary line items needed to ensure the comprehensive, physical and mental health needs of all of our indigent community members would be met during my term when the county fails to follow through with its commitments. However, I will meet with our County representatives to urge them to recommit to fully restoring their financial commitment to indigent health care and if this proves unsuccessful, I will join my constituents at public meetings and forums to call on the County to understand the compounding problems that arise when our residents are not able to receive the very basic health care services they need and our trust in the County to use our tax dollars to protect our public health throughout the county, including Downtown Knoxville and surrounding neighborhoods. In addition to the health care services already provided by county funding, I support the city leading efforts to expand access to affordable mental health providers in the city, through community grants, infrastructure commitments, city land leasing, or other city initiatives that would promote the development of mental health centers.