Legislature grapples with shrinking funds

Gwen Chamberlain
Funds due to Yates County from state and federal sources for 2010 and 2011 activities.

Several Yates County Public Health and Home Health Care workers attended the Yates County Legislature meeting on Monday to voice their opposition to selling the county’s home health care certificate.

No action was taken by the legislature, but during the public comment portion of the meeting Annemarie Flanagan, who formerly was employed at Yates County Public Health and Joy Schank, a local  nurse practitioner spoke.

Flanagan told the legislators to consider that selling the certificate would be a one-time cash deal, and warned if the county sells the service, “You are compromising the health of Yates County.”

She said the county’s home health program makes money for the county, and suggested legislators consider ways to market the service better.

“Let’s make Yates County a model of care. There’s grant money out there. Let’s bring it back to Yates County,” she said.

Schank praised the home health care nurses and care providers. “As a provider, I rely heavily on home health to be there,” she said.

Legislative Chairman Taylor Fitch said no decision on the fate of the Home Health Service has been made. He said he knows Yates County Home Health Service is recognized as one of the best organized, disciplined and caring organizations in the state.

Last month, the legislature started the process to seek proposals from companies that might be interested in purchasing the state certificate that permits Yates County to operate a home health care service. The deadline for proposals is April 27.

County Administrator Sarah Purdy said there is some misinformation in the community about the services that could be affected if the certificate is sold to an independent company that would provide home health care in Yates County.

She listed the Public Health services that will not be affected if the service is sold, such as: rabies clinic, early intervention services, well child visits, child safety seat inspections, all communicable disease work, public health eduation programs, lead program, immunization programs for adults and children, trasnitional case management, cancer screenings, preventive services for families, emergency planning, including pandemic and bioterrorism and emergency medical servcies coordination.

She said the legislature would be forced into a situation where it can’t meet the anticipated property tax cap (2 percent or the rate of inflation, currently 1 percent)  if the county keeps home health care services in its budget. The tax cap would limit the county to a tax increase of $124,000 for the entire budget, which has already lost $136,000 in revenue for next year.

“What’s coming home to roost are the problems of the state — the schools know all about this,” said Purdy, adding that each county is going to be faced with cutting things that are held near and dear “all because the state can’t manage to get its act together.”

Other business on the legislature’s agenda Monday included:

• Airport Property: The legislature accepted a bid of $130,000 from Land and Sea Properties for approximately 10 acres of property at the Yates County Airport on Old Bath Road in the Town of Milo.

• Distinguished Youth Award: Cara Lynne Booth of Dundee was recognizedas the Yates County Distinguished Youth for the first quarter of 2011.

• Court Security: The legislature authorized Sheriff Ron Spike to sign an agreement with the Unified Court System revising the amount of funds due to Yates County for court security to be $326,634. This covers the period from April 1, 2010 to March 31, 2011. See the box at right for more information on state and federal funds due to Yates County.

• Retirement: The legislature unanimously agreed to recognize Sheriff’s K-9 Orry, a German Shepherd assigned to Deputy Sheriff Brian Winslow. Orry has assisted in patrol, tracking, handler protection, building and area searches as well as narcotics detection since 2003. Orry will be living with Winslow’s family in his retirement.

• Roof: The legislature authorized Highway Superintendent David Hartman to seek bids to remove and replace the roofing on the tandem truck storage building at the Highway Department facility.

• Summer help: The legislature authorized spending up to $43,010 for five full time temporary laborers for the Highway Department. Legislator Rick Willson cast the lone “no” vote.

• Mortgage and Sales Taxes: The legislature agreed to seek home rule legislation to renew the 0.25 percent mortgage tax and to extend the 1 percent sales tax, both taxes that are already in place. The sales tax is set to expire on Nov. 30, 2011.

Annemarie Flanagan makes a point during her comments to the Yates County Legislature.