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Guest Column

May 4, 2013

Manor's fate will be Otsego board's legacy

The Otsego County Boards (plural) of Representatives, more in the past than in the present, have negotiated the county into a financial corner leaving the present board between a rock — increased taxation and/or deficits — and a hard place — selling the Manor.

The state of New York has accentuated the dilemma by reducing Medicaid reimbursements to the county for the 75 percent of the Manor residents who so qualify.

The board has three constituencies.

• The residents of Otsego Manor, mostly old and infirm — the compassion issue (to which much newsprint and advocacy have been devoted.)

• The employees, who have benefited from negotiations in good faith — the job security issue (of significant importance, at least to them.)

• The taxpayers of Otsego County, who ultimately bear the cost — the pocketbook issue (the, so far, silent majority in this discussion.)

There is a fourth entity that has a vested interest in the county ownership of Otsego Manor, and that’s the Civil Service Employees Association, which has at risk 200 dues-paying members. While the union is not a constituency to the board, it’s not a minor consideration, as the CSEA knows how to play hardball to protect it’s membership.

None of the four issues can be dealt with in a vacuum, as they are at least somewhat interrelated.

It would appear that the sale of the Manor is a foregone conclusion at this point. Options have been explored and are available on the county website, as is the County of Otsego 2013 Adopted Budget, which is available in print form at the County Treasurer’s Office.)

The board has deliberated, yes, behind closed doors, but also in public forums. The process appears to be moving forward cautiously. Barring a miracle, the county will divest itself of Otsego Manor, and the contingent liabilities that go with the ownership and operation of the Manor, in due course.

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