Letter: Berks County commissioners must not sell Berks Heim

I was at the July 19 Berks County Commissioners meeting, where I heard first-hand concerns regarding the timeline for the potential sale of Berks Heim. These concerns are legitimate and timely, as the Commissioners have been clear about their collective willingness to sell off the Heim if certain conditions are met.

The desire to sell the Heim comes from a misguided attempt to ‘run the government like a business’ — a sentiment that misses the mark. Berks County is not a business, and the Heim is neither a subsidiary nor a product line to be traded for a buck. Furthermore, the projected deficit is minimal — less than 0.5 percent of the County’s overall budget. An annual tax to cover the deficit would cost Berks County households less than one would pay for a funnelcake at a Reading Phillies game.

The Berks Heim employees’ unions have already been asked to make concessions or face a continued sale process. I ask — after the very workers who are responsible for the Heim’s well-established positive reputation are made to sacrifice, who would be next but the residents themselves? Though there are certainly good and worthwhile private nursing homes, as a county-owned entity, Berks Heim is both accountable to and a reflection of the citizens of Berks County in a way no privately owned facility can be.

“The test of a civilization is the way that it cares for its helpless members.” — Pearl S. Buck

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— Jess Royer Spring Township