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Legislature has made many poor ‘business’ decisions in push to sell nursing home

Posted 17 January 2014 at 12:00 am

Editor:

Getting an LDC “Board” to handle the sale of our County Nursing Home was “perfect.” None of the Board members could possibly have much understanding of how services provided by “The Villages” are financed. They might not even know the actual bottom line cost. But the decision to sell was not theirs. They were just executing a directive without public scrutiny.

Whether the decision was a good one, or not, was not for them to decide. Managing the sale would be just another “public service.” They could do the Legislature’s “hatchet” work with a relatively clear conscience. The actual decision to sell our county nursing home had, after all, been made by Orleans County “leaders.”

Just as the rest of us, the LDC Board members have been led to believe selling this particular county nursing home makes “business sense.” Does it?

In what was arguably a good business decision, Orleans County borrowed about $10,000,000 to “renovate” “The Villages of Orleans” about seven years ago. The “renovation” was really more new construction than renovation. As promised and anticipated, this legislative decision resulted in a massive increase in Medicaid reimbursement (about $2,000,000/year) to Orleans County for an indeterminate number of years. That reimbursement has helped offset a $900,000 annual bond payment due through 2026.

The decision to sell “The Villages” deprives the county of at least $4,500,000 in annual Medicaid reimbursement. It makes the 2007 renovation seem foolish. Selling “The Villages of Orleans” will send even more public money – earned at taxpayer expense – to a private owner of a facility we no longer own.

Making the decision even more costly is the fact that Orleans County is eligible for Intergovernmental Transfer program funds because it currently owns a public nursing home.This is our compensation for accepting Medicaid-eligible and other “hard-to-place” residents.

Once our Legislature-created LDC Board sells it, the million or more of Intergovernmental Transfer dollars Orleans County receives annually because it owns a county home will “go away.” Even if the program as currently constituted ends, a preferable, performance-based alternative would work to our advantage (if we retained ownership) because our County Nursing Home has long had relatively few shortcomings/deficiencies and is very highly rated. Advocates are pressing for a performance-based alternative to the unrealistic IGT program.

Do you have an idea why you haven’t heard what the complex known as “The Villages of Orleans” is appraised for? Certainly it must have been appraised. Could it be that we haven’t heard what it is likely worth because the selling price of your property is likely to be, perhaps, 50-60 percent what it is worth – if we are lucky? Of course, some may naively think it is worth whatever it sells for.

Finally – and this is especially hard to swallow – our LDC Board chose to spend a minimum of $100,000 more taxpayer dollars on realtor fees (than necessary) by choosing the realtor it chose (based on an assumed selling price of $8,000,000)! Figure that one out.

All this comes with assurances by legislators who insist that they prefer to run the county in a “businesslike manner.”

Sincerely yours,

Gary Kent
Albion