Editor's note: This is the second in a series of stories focusing on a financial viability report given by Don Pryor of the Center for Governmental Research on the Chautauqua County Home. This story highlights local funding the county must provide on a yearly basis to keep the home solvent.
MAYVILLE - The Chautauqua County Home will need more than just cutbacks and concessions to stay solvent. The home must receive county taxpayer support - to the tune of millions of dollars a year.
But it's nothing new for the Dunkirk skilled nursing facility, which has received $14.9 million in intergovernmental transfer funding over the last five years - with $6.6 million of that being fronted by the county.
The IGT program is a federal initiative that's been around in one form or another for 20 years. Each year the state determines how much will be offered through a "complicated matching process," according to a viability report by the Center for Governmental Research.
To receive federal funding, the county needs to provide a local matching source - usually dollar-for-dollar. Like most public nursing homes in New York state, IGT funding is necessary to remain fiscally sustainable.
"One of the issues that is critical, and you all have dealt with this earlier this year and you know about it, the whole notion of intergovernmental transfers and their essential nature to the survival of public nursing homes." said Don Pryor, director of human services analysis for the CGR.
So just how important has the IGT payment been to the County Home? From 2007 to 2011, the home would have faced an annual deficit of $1.6 million without county and federal assistance. With IGT, however, the County Home has had an average surplus of $656,000 a year.
"If you look without the IGT payments, in four of the last five years going back from 2007 to 2011, the nursing home experienced a deficit on basic operating costs alone," Pryor said.
Future of the government subsidy, however, is not guaranteed. Pryor said he has been told by reputable officials that IGT funding is expected to last through 2014. Beyond that, however, is simply a guess.
"... Chautauqua County, like other counties, will simply have to determine how much of a risk it is willing to take concerning the likely future of the IGT payment as it assesses its options for the future of the Chautauqua County Home," the financial viability report states.
County Executive Greg Edwards, meanwhile, has in the past called the county share of IGT a "smart business move." In fact, the legislature this summer agreed to allocate $1.36 million out of its fund balance to secure a $3.8 million IGT payment. The move was applauded by the county executive.
But Edwards has since affirmed that selling the County Home makes the most financial sense for the county.
"The taxpayers of our county cannot afford us taking $2.6 million of their hard-earned dollars every year to subsidize 250 government jobs," Edwards said in his weekly report.
"The CGR report assumes that federal IGT money will continue and that New York state will not cut our Medicaid and Medicare rates," he continued. "The trend across not only the state by the country is that counties are getting out of the business of county homes.