Herkimer County was recently ranked by the state as being 54 out of 62 in terms of health. We shouldn't be surprised since matters that directly relate to that embarrassingly low rating were executed by you — or, at least, by the Legislature that you selected to represent you. That's right, you, me, all of us deserve to be humiliated by our actions — or those actions that were performed in our names. Let's take a look at a couple of decisions that contributed to such a poor health rating.
One. In our collective wisdom we, through our legislators, ripped the guts out of our suite of health care departments. We decided that we should eliminate long-term care, pre-natal care, personal care and care for physically handicapped children. We did this in 2011-2012 and saved ourselves $750,000. As to those who needed these departments and had benefited from them in the past, well, too bad, we've got to run the county as a business.
Two. And in the same time period, we also decided that providing care, comfort and protection to 80 of our senior citizens as they lived out the last years of their lives was just not in our business plan. We were losing about $800,000 a year operating the Country Manor, or about $27.39 per day per resident, and that was just not good business so we shut it down. To recoup some of our losses we sold the certificate for long-term care for $200,000 — (oh, yeah, we had other bids of $250,000, $310,000 and $340,000 but our good business sense made us take the low bid).
So, with just these two sets of resolutions, we saved $1,550,000 a year and helped to earn our ranking of 54. Congratulations to us. Yet, somehow, our fiscal acumen sees nothing wrong with spending $40 million on a new jail (land, legal fees, remediation, etc. to be added) for housing about 70 criminals. Let's see, $40 million for 130 cells (we only have around 70 inmates on average) is $307,000 per cell and at an estimated operating cost of $3,500,000 a year, it'll be close to $135 per day per each of the 70 inmates.
We see nothing wrong with our priorities — or moralities — in denying $27 a day for 80 long-term, law abiding, tax paying, end of life good citizens while okaying $135 a day for 70 scoff laws. Yes, sir, you can't beat us when it comes to making good business decisions for our county.
Carl Streeter is a resident of the village of Ilion.