Balancing compassion and fiscal restraint

By Freeholder Lillian G. Burry

Burry-Lillian-079In a county as large and diverse as Monmouth County new issues arise for the Freeholders on almost a daily basis.  Fortunately, most also come with a very clear and simple resolution as well and so are dealt with almost as quickly as they come.  Then there are a few issues that are not that simple.  These tend to be ones that place two or more fundamental commitments of government in conflict with one another.  Determining the future of our care centers is just such a complex issue.

Good governments mirror the values of the societies that establish them.  Compassion for the most vulnerable among us is a fundamental value of our society.  From their origins as tuberculosis hospitals through their evolution as nursing homes into more sophisticated care centers our two facilities have met this moral obligation in Monmouth County.

At the same time there is another obligation of government to minimize the burden it places on tax payers and this is always a responsibility to be taken most seriously.  The search for a perfect balance between these two competing goals has been before us as long as I have been a Freeholder and last year, when I was Freeholder Director, I determined that we would find a way to strike a final balance.  To that end I appointed a special committee of experts with that as their charge.  With their work now done I am confident they have succeeded.

The Geraldine Thompson Care Center in Wall Township has long been home to a frail elderly population.  We have now put new management in place that has transformed it in part into a more sophisticated sub acute care component that will increase revenues bringing it closer to financial self-sufficiency and increasing its value in the market place.  We are now at a point when it can be sold.  And this is not just a financial decision.  There was a time when private care facilities were two scarce and expensive. Now the private market is ample and competitive in cost.  There is no longer a social need to run two facilities and so the balance of responsibility swings toward the taxpayers in this case.

The John L. Montgomery Care Center is another story.  This facility is home to more than an elderly population.  It is also home to younger people who through injury or illness require the care this facility provides.  This place has become their home and alternatives are more difficult to find. Here the need for compassion swings the balance. At the same time we have the room there to institute the same operational reforms we have put in place at the Geraldine Thompson facility to expand its range of services and increase revenues with the ultimate goal of financial self-sufficiency.

For a body to survive it takes both a heart and a mind.  The same is true of a society and both of these must be reflected in the governments such societies establish.  By following this plan I believe we will strike a final balance that serves Monmouth County well.

Posted: March 12th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Monmouth County, Monmouth County Board of Freeholders | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

One Comment on “Balancing compassion and fiscal restraint”

  1. Jennifer Gregory said at 8:45 pm on March 18th, 2015:

    Thank you, Freeholder Burry! Monmouth County residents are lucky to have an elected official who looks beyond the almighty dollar and party politics to make sure her most vulnerable constituents are well cared for. Thank you for your compassion, kindness, and support… Jennifer Gregory, Recreation Director at Jon L. Montgomery