FREDERICK, MD - Frederick County Commissioners have already privatized much of the county government, and Thursday they voted to explore another area. The board is considering turning over control of the county-run nursing and rehabilitation centers.
Jane Kemp lives at Montevue Assisted Living and feels the people there are like her family.
"They treat you very humanely here, like a friend, and you get used to them," Kemp said. "You hate to see them go."
However, those people could end up leaving. Commissioners voted to explore options for privatization through a broker of both Montevue Assisted Living and Citizens Care and Rehabilitation Center.
"Many citizens have stopped me on the street and said why are we in the nursing home business when we should be focusing on the core functions of government," said Blaine Young (R), president of the Frederick County Board of Commissioners.
Commissioners say the county is losing money on the centers. They are scheduled to receive $4.2 million in county subsidies in fiscal year 2013.
"Since 2000, the taxpayers have lost over $53 million dollars in this venture," Young said.
About 220 residents live in both of the buildings. Many of them worry if the privatization goes through, they won't have a place to live.
"I wouldn't know where in the world to go really because my sister and brother are all gone and some of the family lives in Virginia. Some live down in Jacksonville," Kemp said. "I really wouldn't have any other place to go."
Commissioners expect to receive a report from a broker within three to five months. They'll then debate the offer. If they accept, they'll send it to a public hearing.
"The commissioners just don't know what they're doing," says Diane Grove, administrator at Montevue Assisted Living. "This is more than just a building. This is a home. This is a home to 75 residents, 75 Frederick County residents. We have employees who are the resident's families. Most of our residents don't have families."
"Frederick is a very caring community. This is part of our history. It's been here for 400 years and then to have it taken away and so quickly isn't right," said Sonja Sperlich, chair of both centers.
That's a history that could go from the public to private sector within a year.