Gov. Bill Haslam said today that closing the Taft Youth Development Center in Bledsoe County is part of his overall effort to streamline state government and offer services at less cost.
“We feel like we were hired to deliver the very best value for the lowest tax and that’s what we’re trying to do,” Haslam told the Chattanooga Rotary Club. “Everybody says government is too big and you should cut it and run it like a business. But every time you make one of these decisions to cut some service, some people don’t like it.”
Haslam said the state’s five youth development centers across Tennessee are only about 70 percent full.
“I think it’s more economical for the state to have four centers that are about 90 percent full,” he said. “That will save us four to five million dollars a year.”
The job losses from the Taft center closing will be offset, at least for some workers, by a new state prison being built in Bledsoe County, Haslam said.
The governor said he also is getting criticism for proposing the shutdown of the Lakeshore Mental Health Institute in Knoxville less than a mile from his home. The center has 390 employees and houses 90 patients.
“We’re very confident that community providers can take care of those folks cheaper than what we’re doing,” Haslam said.
Dave Flessner is the business editor for the Times Free Press. A journalist for 35 years, Dave has been business editor and projects editor for the Chattanooga Times Free Press, city editor for The Chattanooga Times, business and county reporter for the Chattanooga Times, correspondent for the Lansing State Journal and Ingham County News in Michigan, staff writer for the Hastings Daily Tribune in Nebraska, and news director for WCBN-FM in Michigan. Dave, a native ...