County will fix more bridges with money freed up from nursing home

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 25 July 2014 at 12:00 am

ALBION – Orleans County expects a sale to be complete soon for the county-owned nursing home, a 120-bed healthcare facility that has needed county subsidies to pay its bills.

The county budgeted an $825,000 contribution from taxpayers for the nursing home’s operations this year and that is projected to jump to $1.65 million next year. County officials fear the gap between government reimbursements and costs will get larger, necessitating county subsidies of $2 million to $4 million annually in the future.

That burden prompted county officials to sell the nursing home – The Villages of Orleans Health & Rehabilitation Center – for $7.8 million to Comprehensive Healthcare Management Services LLC. The sale needs the approval of the state and the Public Health Council is expected to vote on it Aug. 7. The state board has already given the sale contingent approval.

The nursing home sale is on target to be finalized by Jan. 1, 2015. If the sale isn’t finalized by then, county officials put a clause in the contract for Comprehensive Healthcare Management Services to pay for the operating losses for each month, beginning with January, until the sale is finalized, said Chuck Nesbitt, the county’s chief administrative officer.

Most of the sale price will be used to pay off existing debt, about $6.5 million, for the nursing home. The county will be spared from paying the shortfall for the nursing home in the future once its owned by a private firm.

The sale comes at a time when the county needs to repair or replace bridges and culverts. State and federal government dollars have been harder to come by for the county infrastructure. The nursing home savings will allow the county to direct more local dollars to infrastructure.

“We’re looking to address a number of bridge projects,” Nesbitt said.

The federal and state dollars are already scheduled for the next three years through a regional transportation council. Little of that money was directed to Orleans.

Nesbitt and the county don’t want to wait until 2018 for the next transportation funding plan to have a chance at state and federal money for local bridges.

“It’s problematic because of the number of the bridges and culverts that need attention,” Nesbitt said. “They can’t be deferred until 2016 or 2017.”

He expects the county will fix six bridges next year, with more to be targeted in the following years.

Besides the money it will be spared from the nursing home, Orleans also is projected to receive $268,000 in casino funds through a compact between the state and the Seneca Nation of Indians. Those dollars can help with the infrastructure projects, Nesbitt said.

The Legislature on Wednesday approved a bridge replacement on Hulberton Road in the town of Murray for $1,338,900. That project will be paid 80 percent by the federal government, 15 percent by the state and 5 percent by the county.

Crane Hogan Structural Systems in Spencerport submitted the low construction bid of $894,275 for the new bridge over the west branch of Sandy Creek.