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Many county actions in sale of nursing home weren’t ‘responsible’

Posted 8 February 2014 at 12:00 am

Editor:

Judging only by a “press release,” those charged with selling our Orleans County Nursing Home appear to have found a promising operator. Of course, things aren’t always what they appear to be. The sale will come at a cost to “hard to place” county residents. But, in this case, the LDC Board may have made the best of a questionable decision to sell “The Villages.”

LDC board member Richard DeCarlo called selling the “only responsible” thing to do. Only now and then does the County Legislature do what is clearly responsible. In fairness to the LDC Board, they didn’t create the mess in the first place, and it was a mess.

The run-up to last week’s announced sale was littered with actions that can hardly be termed “responsible.” Was it “responsible” to sell The Villages for $7.8 million when over $20 million has been invested in it in the past 20 years? Was paying a realtor nearly $200,000 to sell what another agent would have sold at a cost to the taxpayers of $50,000 to $100,000 “responsible?”

Was letting occupancy slip to 92 percent in 2012 – with the resulting cost to the taxpayers – “responsible?” Was using the Office for the Aging newsletter to deceive the public “responsible?” For that matter, was it ethical? Was consistently exaggerating nursing home losses “responsible?” It certainly wasn’t truthful.

How “responsible” was it not to have CGR (The Center for Governmental Research) do a feasibility study before deciding to sell The Villages?

Is selling something for much less than it is worth “responsible?” Yes, I read the $6.5 million figure. I’m just not sure where it came from and how real it is. Remember how the $2.1 million dollar “audited loss” in 2012 turned out to be $295,000? Was washing our hands of an obligation written into statute 183 years ago – without first rescinding the statute – “responsible?”

It may come as a revelation to some legislators, but services cost money. Caring for the elderly and infirm costs money. Public safety and emergency response costs money. Prosecution and incarceration costs money. Public/mental health services cost money. Taking care of our buildings and grounds and maintaining our roads and bridges costs money. Even assisting the indigent costs money.

As we pick winners and losers, it is interesting that counting losses becomes more of an issue when the service has to do with long-term care of the indigent elderly and infirm. Recall the immortal words of our Legislative Chairman, “We cannot make money (caring for the elderly).”

Sincerely yours,

Gary F. Kent
Albion