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Genesee leader calls for innovation

BATAVIA – Genesee County must be innovative and willing to change to meet the challenges of the year ahead, according to Raymond F. Cianfrini, the new chairman of the County Legislature, who delivered his first State of the County address Wednesday.

Cianfrini, who represents the towns of Oakfield and Alabama, reviewed changes facing the county in 2014 in an address before legislators and department heads.

The county’s most vexing problem is the debt incurred due to nursing home losses of $2 million a year because of what Medicaid pays and the cost of treatment.

The Oakfield attorney said the county is in the midst of yet another study with options to sell or lease its nursing home or partner with an outside agency.

Legislators have assured staff, patients and families that the 240-bed home will not be closed.

A $10.8 million emergency communication system that links all emergency responders through a new 800-megahertz radio system is nearly completed.

The changeover from Motorola to Harris Communications was tested recently. Only three new towers are needed to blanket 90 percent of the county.

The annual address also included a plea for relief from unfunded state mandates, notably Medicaid, which consume a hefty share of local taxpayer dollars.

Cianfrini wants the state to assume the full cost of most unfunded mandates by using this year’s $2 billion surplus.