Closure would bring big savings

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  • Thursday, February 28, 2008 9:15am

By Darlene Fairley

Dear Mr. Daher:

When I sponsored SB 5971, I knew that it would be a very controversial and emotional issue. I knew that I would have to reassure worried parents and guardians that under this bill, no one will lose services, and that it will actually result in better care and opportunities for our state’s most vulnerable residents.

What I did not expect was the distribution of misinformation. As a paraplegic, I take great exception to your accusation that I would try to “cleanse” our community of people who are not “beautiful.”

More and more families are realizing that their disabled children can live productive and satisfying lives at home and in our communities. This is evidenced by the fact that the institutionalized population is dwindling.

Unfortunately, rumors and inaccurate information about the cost of closing Fircrest have muddied the debate over this bill. Therefore, I feel compelled to respond to your letter in an effort to correct some of these inaccuracies.

The estimated proceeds from sale of the Fircrest property are $33 million. Once Fircrest is completely closed, the operating budget savings are estimated to be $42 million per biennium. These are net savings after accounting for the cost to serve Fircrest residents at other institutions or in the community. These savings would occur beginning in the 2005-07 biennium. During the 2003-05 biennium, the savings will more than cover the costs of transitioning residents to new placements and the costs to close the facility. Furthermore, the state will save another $21 million in avoided repairs by closing Fircrest.

It will not cost the state $35 million to close Fircrest. This figure was initially put out by the Department of Social and Health Services and then found to be in error. Unfortunately, the truth about this error has been slow to reach all interested parties.

I hope this response serves to elevate the debate.


Darlene Fairley

Senator, 32nd District

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