An amendment to explore the option of leasing the Horace Nye Nursing Home to a private business along with the option to sell the facility did not make it out of the Finance Committee meeting Oct. 17.
The ammendment, which would give Essex County another option when it came to the potential transition of the facility from a county to privately funded facility, was defeated when only four of the six members present voted for the measure, which needed five yes votes in order to pass.
Roby Politi (North Elba), George Canon (Newcomb), William “Bill” Ferebee (Keene) and Robert Dobie (North Hudson) voted in favor of the amendment; while Thomas “Tom” Scozzafava (Moriah) and Edward “Ed” Hatch (Willsboro) voted against.
Joyce Morency (St. Armand) and Debra Malaney (Ticonderoga) were not at the committee meetings on Oct. 17, while Chesterfield Supervisor Gerald “Gerry” Morrow had to leave before the Finance Committee meeting began to tend to a town matter.
County Manager Daniel Palmer said that he felt the county needed to find out if there was an interest in the facility.
“We have an obligation to know one way or another if there is an interest in the private sector to run the home,” Palmer said. “You can put whatever conditions you want into the agreement in order to proceed. This amendment would give us another option to lease the nursing home out.”
Palmer also said that the board should take a hard look at a sale or lease agreement because it would mean that jobs at the facility would not come under the chopping block of the county budget.
“If we have to lay off county employees, it would be better to transition a great deal of our employees to the private sector where they will still have jobs,” Palmer said.
County Board Chairman Randall “Randy” Douglas agreed with Palmer.
“I think that we have to look at all of our departments and see what we can transfer over to the private sector, and this is the place to start,” Douglas said.
“There are other services that we need to look into as well,” said, who is also the county budget officer. “I think that we still need an attorney to look into whether or not we can even sell the facility.”
Palmer said that the organization charged with seeking out a potential private investor for the Horace Nye Nursing Home, Marcus and Millichap, was willing to address the board about the options available if the amended resolution were to pass through committee. Instead, the committee invited the group to come and address the board even though the amendment was defeated.
“The committee has spoken with them at length about this,” Politi said. “This is part of the exploration into the next step, if there may also be the option to lease as well as the option to sell.”
Palmer said that the only way the county is obligated financially with Marcus and Millichap is if the resolution to have the group seek a potential buyer or renter were to pass through the full board and the group were to find a viable bidder.
Douglas said that he felt that the board needed to take a stand on the Horace Nye situation soon.
“We are getting beat up more now because we can’t make a decision one way or another on it,” Douglas said.