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Candidate Kent says Legislature takes credit for ‘no-brainers’

Posted 29 October 2013 at 12:00 am

Editor:

There are a number of things that people should be clear about prior to what may be one of the more significant elections in Orleans County history. They involve questions of judgment. Taking credit for things we had little to do with is another issue.

Our county jail upgrade was largely the result of good fortune and Tom Beilein becoming Commissioner of Corrections. As with the Emergency Radio System upgrade, votes by the Legislature to formalize these things would likely have been “no-brainers” for any Legislature, though laying the groundwork for them did consume a great deal of time.

Several recent moves by the Legislature show questionable judgment. Giving the visiting nurse service to HCR, when Medina Hospital was willing to pay for it was one. Creating a “Manager of Public Safety” title in 2010 to justify a $10,000 pay raise was another. The unanimous 2010 vote disapproving of a State bill that would have increased jail time for criminals who wound police with armor-piercing ammunition in the commission of a crime has to make one wonder.

The choice to help someone from the Town of Evans go into a competing business across East Center Street from Medina Lumber, not long after the Snyders brought that business back to life, points out the need to do more for local business people. Another is the apparent unwillingness to help numerous Oak Orchard businesses at “The Point” by working creatively to save the bridge below Narby’s.

But it gets more interesting. “Truth in Taxation” was rolled out on January tax bills in 2012 after people were not scared enough to sell the County Nursing Home in 2011. It hardly qualifies as truth, and it turned out to be an eye-opener. Many were amazed that garbage collection costs far more than keeping faith with our infirm elderly.

Moving The Continuing Day Treatment Mental Health program to Batavia in December 2012, exposed taxpayers to considerable risk. As Sharon Ludwick pointed out, it made no financial sense. It also resulted in decreased service delivery effectiveness for “seriously and persistently” mentally ill Orleans residents.

Then there was the decision to liquidate “The Villages.” When the County Republican chairman questioned it last winter, he was reportedly told not to worry because it would all be wrapped up by Election Day! The Legislature didn’t do its homework on this one. It didn’t even inquire about having The Center for Governmental Research do a study of “The Villages,” as it had done for Genesee County. The sentiment expressed at a public hearing in February was ignored. An LDC was set up, answering only to Chairman Callard. It is so secretive that we cannot even be told who the bidders for “The Villages” are.

Throughout this saga, the public has been repeatedly misled. The County’s “Frequently Asked Questions” contains numerous misrepresentations of fact.Its publication in “The Friendly Carrier” involved questionable ethics to say the least. Numbers given by County leaders vary widely from one time and circumstance to anotherby as much as $1.8 million for 2012.

One County leader insists on distorting the findings of the CGR study, “The Future of County Nursing Homes in New York State.” The study does not even mention Orleans County, much less say it should sell “The Villages.” It does say that the three things that counties should consider when deciding to sell are the rate at which the senior population is growing (45 percent increase between 2010 and 2030 here), the numbers of “hard-to-place” residents in the area and the number of alternative long term care facilities available locally. Consider Orleans the “CGR trifecta.”

While there is a mountain of information to digest on this subject, it should be noted in closing that, if “The Villages” is sold, taxpayers will be handing over nearly $6 million to a private operator yearlyif the private operator keeps Medicaid eligible resident numbers where they are now. (CGR suggests such numbers will decline.)

Orleans taxpayers will pay for Medicaid eligible residents no matter where they go for care.  Orleans taxpayers will pay $900,000 each year through 2026 without the benefit of State and Federal support. That is more than the property tax impact this year! Check your tax bills!

Sincerely yours,

Gary Kent
Albion

(Kent is a candidate for Orleans County Legislature, endorsed by the Democratic Party and also running under the independent “Save Our Nursing Home” party.)