It is important for the public to know that when the County Delegation approved money in this year’s budget for this program it was with the understanding that the program would continue. The time to have these programmatic discussions is during the budget process. We funded the program with the clear message that the Commissioners would do all in their power to make the program a success. Pulling the plug on this program mid-budget year is not the correct action. As far as the Delegation is concerned this program is still funded and should remain open.
During now and the next budget process interested parties from the Delegation, our towns, and the Commissioners should meet to see how the program enrollment can be improved upon. Yes there is a lower than anticipated usage, which is something that should be worked on. We are sure that if you ask the average citizen in Rockingham County whether there is a County run Adult Medical Day Care Program, most would ask what is adult day care and then they would say they never heard of the County program. Marketing the program should get the numbers up, and will go far to help the program break even. In watching the bottom line, however, we must appreciate that providing services to the elderly should not be viewed as a revenue source for the County. Even private for-profit adult day care programs struggle to break even and tend to be cross-subsidized by their other services.
Finally, contrary to assertions by the Commissioners, this is in no way a partisan issue. Republicans and Democrats alike are upset by the closure of this program. Rest assured that some of the most fiscally conservative members of the County Delegation voted for keeping this program alive even though it runs at a 15% loss. The Rockingham Nursing Home runs at a 26% loss. The only function of county government that requires no county tax dollars to function is the Registry of Deeds. The County portion of property tax bills has seen practically no increase in the past three years. Even with that we found the money to fund this important program. The County Delegation does an excellent job of balancing the burden placed on taxpayers with the need to maintain key programs for the benefit of our citizens, the Adult Medical Day Care being one of them. We believe the public would agree.
Rep Donna Schlachman, Exeter
Rep Patrick Abrami, Stratham