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Local News

February 25, 2013

Local officials uncertain of cuts impact


Delaware County Social Services Commissioner William Moon said with a busy agency to run, “I don’t have time to study something that may never affect me.” He would need to know what the federal cuts would be and how that state would deal with them, before he knows what the impact on the county would be.

The one person who talked of specifics was Bassett Healthcare Network President and Chief Executive Officer Dr. William F. Streck. His best estimate is that his organization could lose $3 million annually from the cuts he said in a prepared statement. These would include $1.8 million from Bassett Medical Center in Cooperstown, $700,000 from A.O. Fox Hospital in Oneonta and $500,000 from Cobleskill Regional Hospital. These are on top of federal and state health care cuts, he said. Bassett budgeted for these cuts, so “we are at least prepared,” Steck said.

Bassett spokeswoman Karen Huxtable said, “We are still implementing strategies to deal with the impacts.”

These plans include holding the line on expenses where possible, leveraging the network’s purchasing power to gain purchasing efficiencies and filling vacancies where possible. There have been no layoffs, she said.

Otsego County Economic Development Department Director Carolyn Lewis said federal spending has to be cut but “this is taking the proverbial ax to it. Nobody really knows what to expect. It’s an unfathomable amount of money and its across the board.”

She said she would like to see this approach avoided. Although area businesses are “resilient,” she said, “It’s a fragile ecosystem.”

Big cuts to defense and aerospace might affect local businesses in that supply chain, Lewis said. Raising taxes on small businesses might affect those who have been hanging on in a tough economy.

“The most frightening aspect is that the cuts are so deep and broad and so fast,” she said. Businesses may not be aware of the implications so they are not able to prepare for cuts to federal lending programs, regulatory and export assistance.

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