MAYVILLE - Local CSEA members have concerns about the possible privatization of the County Home.
At the legislature's regular September business meeting last week, lawmakers heard from Rose Conti, CSEA Unit 6300 president.
Conti presented the legislators with a list of questions which she asked county officials consider when making decisions about the County Home - decisions which she said have a broad impact on her members and the residents of the county.
In specific, Conti questioned why there is a rush to sell the County Home. She asked about money transferred from the County Home's general fund years ago to the county, and whether the County Home could have that money back. She also called for an outside, impartial study of the County Home to be done before any privatization efforts are undertaken.
The full transcript of her questions to county officials can be found online with this article at www.post-journal.com.
"Back in 1986 was the first time that we talked about selling the County Home out from underneath the residents that live there and we're still talking about doing that to them," Conti said. "I think we have to take a look at the history of why we decided that was a bad idea and why we are responsible to these people who have given their whole lives to this county."
Though the bulk of the night was spent on the tentative 2012 budget and related issues, the County Home was brought up by the public several times during the meeting.
CSEA workers gathered outside the Gerace Office Building on Wednesday in support of the County Home, with signs such as "Save Our County Home" and "Respect Your Elders."
A local business owner also took to the microphone to share a personal story, as her grandmother is a resident of the County Home.
"She's at the County Home because we chose to put her there," the woman said. 'We searched high and low. We looked at privately owned nursing homes and we chose the County Home because of the quality of care there.
"And I'm a little upset that we, the taxpayers, are hearing through the newspapers that the County Home is going to be privatized," she continued. "We're hearing through the newspapers and we don't have a say in it. We don't know when the vote is. We don't know any of it. Nothing is brought public for us, the taxpayers - for me, a granddaughter who is trying to care for her grandmother the best that we know how. And I just don't think it's right. I think it's up to this county to allow us, the taxpayers, to have a better say and to be able to see and know exactly what is going on when it comes to our loved ones."
The county is moving forward with its attempt to privatize the County Home, having published a request for proposals recently.
The county is seeking proposals from qualified real estate firms for "the marketing of the potential sale, lease, or other disposition of the Chautauqua County Home."
The Chautauqua County Home is a 216-bed skilled nursing facility located on a 30-acre site on Temple Road in Dunkirk. It is fully licensed by the State of New York Department of Health, and is certified by Medicare and Medicaid.
In 2009, an ad-hoc committee formed by the County Legislature gave a report to county lawmakers, offering up ways in which the County Home could be operated more efficiently. Many of those recommendations were implemented, but the County Home still continues to be a concern - as the enterprise agency is operating at a deficit and will soon deplete the $5 million it has in reserves.