Republican candidates running for the Schenectady County Legislature in District 3 mocked claims by Democrats that they could build a new Glendale Home for free during a meet the candidates forum Wednesday night at Town Hall.
Republicans Jim Buhrmaster, Michael Dieterich and Kurt Semon challenged a claim made in a campaign flier sent out by Democrats Cathy Gatta, Tom Constantine and Cathy Bern-Smith. The flier states “Cathy, Tom and Cathy strongly support building a new Glendale Nursing Home, an action that will not cost county taxpayers one cent.”
Quipped Semon, “It’s a miracle. You can’t build something for free.”
Dr. Brian Gordon, D-Niskayuna, chairman of the county Legislature’s subcommittee on the Glendale Home, who attended the forum as an observer, explained the flier’s language. He said the state will cover 85 percent of the estimated $50.5 million construction cost through enhanced Medicaid reimbursements to the county. The county will pay the remaining $7.5 million by increasing the private pay rate to the market rate. Private pay accounts for 11 percent of the coverage at the nursing home, with Medicaid covering 85 percent.
The new nursing home would contain 200 beds and is scheduled to open in the fall of 2013. It’s expected to operate more efficiently than the current Glendale Home, a hodgepodge of buildings, some dating back to the 1930s. The facility’s annual budget is nearly $30 million.
Buhrmaster said the county should get out of the nursing home business. “Our private sector is trying to take the burden away from county taxpayers,” he said.
Dieterich, who is president of Modular Construction, said the county could build a nursing home for less. He also criticized the annual county subsidy to the home. The subsidy will be $7 million in the county’s proposed $295 budget for 2012, which carries a tax levy increase of 1.5 percent or a $13.60 per year increase in property taxes for a home with a full value of $142,000.
“It is a big burden, and I believe it can be built for substantially less. This issue needs to be addressed again,” he said.
Bern-Smith said she supports the need for a county-owned nursing home. “The nursing home provides a niche that private nursing homes can’t,” she said.
Glendale, for example, is the home of last resort for hard-to-place residents with medical conditions such as Alzheimer’s. It also provides care to people with little or no insurance.
Constantine said he would agree to look at the bonding for Glendale and would not support construction if it “takes money from other areas.”
Gatta did not attend the forum due to another commitment.
The Schenectady County League of Women Voters and the American Association of University Women sponsored the forum.
Three seats are open in District 3. Buhrmaster is the only incumbent and is seeking a third four-year term. Gatta was appointed to the Legislature to fill the vacancy created when former Chairwoman Susan Savage left to join Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration. Savage’s seat carries a two-year term; the other seats carry four-year terms.
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Categories: Schenectady County