County weighs options over ‘home’ finances

A $4.8 million gap between projected revenues and expenditures for the Fulton County Residential Hea
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Categories: Schenectady County

A $4.8 million gap between projected revenues and expenditures for the Fulton County Residential Health Care Facility in 2011 has ratcheted up the debate over whether to privatize the facility.

The gap was determined when the facility presented its 2011 budget projections to the county’s Health Services Committee. The projections do not include more than $2 million in state funding that may or may not be available next year. The facility could also benefit from about $935,000 in federal funding not included in the budget projections, but only if the county provides a matching $935,000 in spending for its department of social services.

Greg Fagan, the chairman of the Fulton County Board of Supervisors, said the county has not provided a direct subsidy for its nursing home for the last two years but has spent several million dollars to gain access to federal matching funds that have covered expenses at the home. He said some of the cost increases at the facility include $500,000 in increased state pension contributions and approximately another $500,000 for a new sprinkler system.

Fagan said the nursing home may have some reserves that can be used to help pay for some of the increased costs, but county officials haven’t determined yet how much cash the facility has. The county is pressuring an auditing firm to provide answers. He said in all likelihood the county will need to find a way to balance the home’s budget for 2011 because he believes it will take at least a year to sell it, if the board chooses to do so.

“If there is some fund balance it will soften the blow somewhat, but right now we don’t know exactly how much there is,” he said. “I think it has certainly opened up a few more people’s eyes to the possibility that we may need to pass this place on to somebody else.”

CSEA Local 818 President Ron Briggs said all of the facts about the facility need to be revealed through an audit before anyone can make an informed opinion.

“We need to know what we’re talking about, so that people on either side won’t be crying that the sky is falling or that everything will be OK. It is the county’s fiduciary duty to provide an accounting of what’s going on,” Briggs said. “Give us an appropriate figure of what things will cost, take all available revenue streams and then give the citizens a correct accounting and then make a decision based on facts not on rumor.”

Fulton County Administrative Officer Jon Stead said two entities remain interested in purchasing the nursing home: the Pharney Group based in Tarrytown, Westchester County, and Centers for Specialty Care of the Bronx.

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