Orleans Arc votes to merge with Genesee ARC

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 26 August 2015 at 12:00 am

ALBION – An agency that serves people with disabilities in Orleans County voted to merge with a sister agency in Genesee County.

The Arc of Orleans County and Genesee ARC are already sharing a director, Donna Saskowski. The Arc of Orleans board of directors wants to join the two agencies, seeing an opportunity for reduced administration costs while preserving needed services for residents, said Don Allport, a member of the Arc board and a past president for the agency.

“The services will stay here,” Allport said during today’s Orleans County Legislature meeting. He is also a county legislator.

“It was a unanimous vote,” he continued. “We’re looking to a bright future.”

Allport said the smaller-county ARC chapters have struggled with Medicaid reductions and reimbursement changes through the Affordable Care Act.

“The smaller Arc’s are being forced to combine,” he said.

However, he thinks Orleans and Genesee are the first to do it.

The Genesee ARC board still needs to approve the merger and Allport said that board is expected to back the union this evening.

An exploratory committee has been looking at the issue with help from a consultant. The agency in Genesee County operates on about a $13 million annual budget with 340 staff members. In Orleans, the Arc has a $12 million budget and about 300 employees.

Saskowski, in an interview earlier this month, said some of the ARC chapters in the state are reducing programs and staff due to shrinking government reimbursements and other fiscal challenges.

“We might be able to provide services in a better manner and be more stable as an agency,” Saskowski said about a possible merged agency.

Two counties with a bigger land area, Livingston and Wyoming, have a single ARC chapter, the Arc of Livingston-Wyoming.