Tim Hellwig, Chautauqua County Home administrator, has done all he can to wring savings from the Chautauqua County Home.
Hellwig recently told Chautauqua County legislators that cost-saving measures are working. The home is expected to save more than $200,000 this year through layoffs and attrition of a custodian, a ward clerk, operations assistant, food service supervisor and typist. Another $13,000 in savings can be realized through some different management of a few positions. The home has also increase use of private pay and Medicare residents, which bring in higher reimbursement rates than residents using Medicaid, and increased efficiency with an electronic medical record-keeping system.
For all that, Hellwig says, "We are where we should be."
Now, though, those who don't want to sell the County Home have a problem.
For all the progress Hellwig has made this year, there is still little he can do to permanently save money without some major help from the CSEA, the union which represents the home's employees. Automatic step increases for 75 new hires have cost the County Home more than $45,000 this year while merit-based and incremental increases required by the CSEA salary scheduled are being honored as well. Hellwig also says it will be difficult to see more cost savings without concessions from the union.
And, there is that little matter of IGT funding the home receives from the federal government - after it is secured with funding from Chautauqua County taxpayers. Saving a few hundred thousand dollars is nothing to sneeze at except, that is, when it is compared with the county's IGT funding. The county will spend $2.1 million on IGT funding for the home in 2013. The pennies the home is saving are still dwarfed by the dollars it receives from Chautauqua County. That's not a situation that is likely to change any time soon.
It's why we continue to say, in the clearest words possible, Chautauqua County's best course of action is to sell the Chautauqua County Home.