Talk of selling Countryside Home resurfaces among county leaders

WARRENSBURG - In an effort to cut taxes for Warren County property owners, county supervisors are now examining the prospects of selling the Countryside Adult Home.

At the supervisors' March 3 meeting, they resumed discussions about privatizing Countryside to reduce a county budget gap that is predicted for next year. Warren County taxpayers now pay about $850,000 annually toward Countryside's operation, with an equal amount paid by the state.

The county board is considering soliciting proposals from private enterprise to take over the operation, to save hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Countryside is a county-sponsored facility, located on Schroon River Rd. in Warrensburg. It provides room, board and activities for elderly or special needs adults that don't have the means to live on their own.

County Budget Officer Kevin Geraghty said that if Countryside is privatized, the county board would likely demand that existing employees have first shot at the jobs under private ownership. Also, he said he wants to make sure that the Countryside residents, now about 41 in number, get the same level of care they've been receiving.

Several weeks ago, the county supervisors heard a proposal from representatives of a real estate firm seeking to broker a deal between the county and prospective new owners.

But before taking any action as to the home's fate, the board is now looking for a new director for the home. The director up through a month ago was Brenda Hayes, who spearheaded a drive in 2009 to re-certify it from a 60-bed facility down to a 48-bed facility under state regulations, saving hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxpayers money.

During 2009, Hayes cut expenses drastically at the facility - under the auspices of the county supervisors who were seeking deep reductions in her budget. She eliminated several jobs in mid-2009, a move that angered staff and led to a public protest.

Hayes is now working as an administrator at Westmount Health Facility, the county's nursing home, while continuing to oversee Countryside operations with the help of the home's staff.

Countryside Adult Home is the successor to the old Warren County Home that provided accommodations for the elderly while requiring those physically able to work on the adjacent county farm to subsidize the facility's expenses.

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