Put another $500,000 of county taxpayer money into the Chautauqua County Home in Dunkirk?
County Legislator Vince Horrigan of Bemus Point has the right answer:
The county-owned nursing home, which is up for sale, has enough money in savings to pay its own way through the middle of next year, says Colleen Wright, the home's financial officer.
And by that time, if Chautauqua County legislators do their duty by selling it, the nursing home and its $10,700-a-day deficit will be well on the way to being off the backs of local property taxpayers.
Let's remember that the county selling the nursing home does not mean residents there will be kicked out or employees will have to lose their jobs.
Not at all. In fact, whoever buys the home will be bound by stipulations designed to ensure a smooth transition for everyone involved.
The sale simply means county taxpayers will no longer have to continue paying millions of dollars to subsidize the high cost of running a county-owned nursing home.
A flock of seven Democrats and one Independent county legislators are sponsoring a proposal to give the County Home another $500,000 in local county tax revenue in order for the home to qualify for a matching $500,000 from the federal government. That would be on top of millions of dollars in local subsidies spent by the home over the past few years.
Chautauqua County Executive Gregory Edwards supports the idea, saying we are going to have to put money into the home anyway. Rose Conti, president of the CSEA Unit 6300, said if the county has the money, it's a positive way to spend it.
''It's a good deal for the county," she said.
No it is not.
Legislator Horrigan has it right - spending taxpayer money this year is premature. If the deal to sell the home is not quite finished up mid-year next year, the county can apply for matching funds then, to coincide with the depletion of the County Home surplus.
And by the way, $500,000 sounds like a lot, but the County Home is losing money so fast that it does not amount to even a finger in the dike. With the county home running in the red at the rate of $10,700 a day, that $500,000 would last just 46 days - until the first week of June if the funding started today.
This past Monday was the deadline for interested parties to submit bids to buy or lease the County Home and operate it as a nursing home for at least 10 years. Edwards said he will be reviewing those bids soon.
Meanwhile, the full legislature will likely vote this week on the $500,000 proposal.
All legislators should vote no.
Their job is to get the County Home off the backs of local taxpayers, not to keep spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to bail it out.