Legislator’s letter raised more questions than it answered
Orleans County Legislator Lynne Johnson’s letter regarding the proposed privatization of the county nursing home did not answer any questions – It simply raised more.
First, let us be clear, this has been a political issue from the outset. The county government has taken steps over the past few years to sell the public on the idea of privatization. They have done it with fuzzy math and twisted facts and gimmickry like the “truth in taxation” addition to property tax bills.
While the fiscal stability of the county nursing home is uncertain, the reality is that there will be an increase in demand for nursing home beds over the next decade. That is why there are buyers for all these public nursing homes – because they are valuable institutions.
Our government is designed to serve the will of the people. If the people of Orleans County wish their tax dollars to go toward paying for the nursing home then it is the county government’s job to make that happen, not use scare tactics like Ms. Johnson’s implication that if they don’t sell the nursing home it will close. In fact, there is a much greater chance that it will close with a private owner than if it is publicly owned.
In addition, Ms. Johnson ignores the impact on the local workforce. A private employer will balance their profits on the backs of underpaid workers.
Finally, let’s compare the handling of the OTS bus service to the nursing home. Even though the bus service is a perennial money loser and heavily subsidized, no one has suggested we end the bus service. In fact, the county authorized the building of a bus garage that will cost over $1 million dollars at the same time they bemoan “state mandates.”
The bus service cannot be sold because it doesn’t make money. It is kept because it serves our citizens and fulfills a need in our community. Cannot the same be said for our nursing home?
(Crane is chairwoman of the Orleans County Democratic Party)