Merger approved for Orleans, Genesee Arc

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 25 April 2016 at 12:00 am

Photos by Tom Rivers – John Huber, president of the board of directors for The Arc of Orleans County, congratulates Mary Lou Tuohey for 21 years of service on the board. Huber also announced on Friday that NYSARC, the state agency overseeing The Arc, approved a merger between the agencies in Orleans and Genesee counties.

HOLLEY – The state organization that oversees 48 chapters that provide services to people with disabilities has approved a merger between The Arc of Orleans County and the Genesee ARC.

NYSARC’s board of directors voted to approve the merger on April 15, John Huber, president of the board for The Arc, announced on Friday during the Best Friend awards banquet.

Staff and board members from the two chapters have worked more than a year to develop a plan for merging the two agencies. Huber said that plan will now be implemented over the next year. The goal is to preserve services for people served by the agency and to “safeguard people’s salaries and benefits as much as possible.”

The new merged agency will be known as The Arc of Genesee & Orleans. It combines the Genesee agency that has about 350 employees and an annual budget of about $13 million with the Orleans agency that has about 300 workers and a budget of nearly $11 million.

Huber said the “managed care model” has cut into reimbursements for Arc services. Leaders in both Orleans and Genesee see a stronger agency and economy of scale working together, he said.

Both Orleans and Genesee feared the shrinking reimbursements could create a financial crisis for the agencies. They chose to merge in a “forward-thinking” vision of the future.

“We didn’t want to be in a position where we were taken over by another chapter,” he said.

The two agencies need to merge boards of directors with four representatives from each county. They also need to merge billing, bank accounts and other programs.

“As of now we are one agency,” Huber told about 300 people at The Arc’s awards banquet. “Now the devil is in the details.”

The two agencies have been meeting for about 2 1/2 years to discuss ways to share some staff and services. Those talks led to a push for a merger.

Combined, the two agencies serve over 1,200 individuals with disabilities.

The Genesee chapter celebrates its 50th anniversary this year and the agency started 46 years ago in Orleans.

“Next year will be year one of a brand new agency,” Huber said.

Matthew Degnan shared the blessing for the food during Friday’s banquet. He thanked The Arc for its support while he was growing up. “The Arc has given me independence, respect, dignity and freedom,” Degnan said. “I just got my hand controls in my car and I can drive now.” Degnan said the new merger with Genesee ARC will allow the bigger agency “to help all who are differently abled.”