A revent report on the possible choices for the county home used a couple of number that could use some analysis. The estimate was that in the years ahead, if the decision was to keep the county home as operated by the county, there would be a need to come up with about $3.5 million a year.
What does that figure mean for a county resident? Well, the population of the county is something just over 130,000, so that to get up to $3.5 million would impose a tax burden of between $27 to $28 per year per person. This burden might be lessened by whatever further concessions there might be on the part of the employees, as well as by some cost savings that might be found by all involved.
A family of four would then be asked to take on about $110 per year in calculating this by individuals. Realistically a good part of that population are children and the burden is not distributed per capita, but by property tax assessment. Thus not every person would be assigned the same share of this cost; some would pay more, some less.
What would we the citizens of the county get in return for this cost? Our neighbors and fellow taxpayers who work at the County Home would keep their jobs, would be sustained at decent paying jobs with health and pension benefits. They would not join the exodus from the county in pursuit of decent jobs elsewhere.
The fellow citizens who live at the County Home would keep the good and kind care they have received for so many years. Future generations would be able to look forward to the same promise if and when the time came.
What if we say no to that option? We sell the home and get a quick buck in return. The new owners would be able to ease out the current employees by reducing salaries, eliminating benefits all in the name of cutting costs. In the future - the long run - those who could not pay the cost of privatized care would have to go elsewhere, out of the county, out of state. The Home would be for those who could afford it.
Without health insurance and pensions the employees who need care will come to the emergency room where the costs will all be on us, the taxpayers since we will have no choice in this matter. So what will we have won for a short term benefit - a long term burden of taxes that would far exceed the cost of maintaining the County Home by paying a modest increase in the county tax to sustain the county home.
As the old saying goes, you can pay me now or you can pay later.
Tom Morrissey is a Fredonia resident.