BATAVIA – A public hearing will be held Thursday in the Office for the Aging, 2 Bank St., on Genesee County’s $145 million budget for 2013, which carries a small property tax increase for the second straight year.
In a memorandum accompanying his spending plan, County Manager Jay A. Gsell pointed to seven years of operating losses at the County Nursing Home and its domiciliary unit.
Next year’s tax rate will increase by 8 cents to $9.97 per $1,000 of assessed value. That compares with a 7-cent hike this year after four years when the rate remained at $9.82.
The general fund of $101 million is about $2.7 million more than 2012, while the amount raised by local taxes will remain near $26.2 million. Gsell used nearly $3 million from reserve funds to meet the legislators’ goal of a rate below $10.
The 160-bed Nursing Home, which opened nearly 40 years ago, has needed county funds to operate since 2007. The annual deficit has ranged from $520,000 to this year’s $2.7 million. A further drain has been the domiciliary care unit of 80 adults beds, whose occupancy has hovered around 40 percent for more than two years. Gsell plans to eliminate six full-time jobs at the “dom.”
With most patients on Medicaid, the daily cost of $260 is offset by only $170 in reimbursement. In addition, nursing pension costs for a full-time staff of 215 are increasing by up to 20 percent next year.
Legislators have made it clear that the county’s 180-year tradition of institutional long-term care is not at risk. However, options that include marketing and/or sale will be considered. Gsell said that the “deck is stacked against county-owned and -operated long-term care facilities from ever operating in the black.”
After the 7 p.m. public hearing and residents’ reactions, legislators may make further changes before adopting the budget, which is usually done in late November.