A packed Old Courthouse at the Essex County Government Center watched as the supervisors gave their opinions.
There were some rounds of applause, some mumbling from the back rows, and the occasional loud moan as the 18 supervisors discussed the resolution that would allow the county to enter into an agreement with Marcus and Millichap to seek the potential sale or lease of the Horace Nye Nursing Home in Elizabethtown.
When the talking was over, the supervisors voted 2,065 (72.6 percent) to 778 in favor of the motion, easily earning the two-thirds weighted vote needed for the resolution to carry.
Many supervisors who supported the resolution said that in the current financial climate, every possible cost-saving opportunity had to be looked at.
“I am not in favor of selling the home, but I am in favor of this resolution,” Keene Supervisor William “Bill” Ferebee said. “It only says that we are going to test the waters, and we have to test the waters.”
“I think the key words in the resolution are ‘acceptable to the board of supervisors,’” Newcomb Supervisor George Canon said.
“The question is not do we stay open or closed, the question is do we look at all of our options,” Minerva Supervisor Sue Montgomery-Corey said.
Some supervisors tried to explain that their votes were not a matter of personal interest, but the interest of the county and the taxpayers.
“There is a lot of anger that is already being focused on this board because of this, but the county did not ask for the 2 percent cap,” Wilmington Supervisor Randy Preston said. “This is the first of a lot of very difficult, tough decisions. We didn’t create this, but we are going to have to be the ones that have to live with it. Sadly, everything is on the table. I wish people would not take this personally, but they are going to.”
“This has become a very polarizing issue,” Lewis Supervisor David Blades said. “For me this is a very personal issue, but I believe that my responsibility goes further then my personal needs. I’m not saying that in the end, I would support the sale or lease. I need to get the full information, and I think that is what we all need to do.”
“I think it is really unfortunate that there is so much negativity,” Westport Supervisor Daniel “Dan” Connell said. “All we are doing is looking at if there is a way of running this at a reduced cost to the taxpayers of this county. I think that we owe it to the taxpayers of Essex County to explore all of our options.”
“This is not about quality of nursing care, it’s not about the people,” North Elba Supervisor Robert “Roby” Politi said. “We have made a lot of very poor business and leadership decisions over the years at Horace Nye and all those decisions point to one thing, that the county should not be in the nursing home business. I know that we will still have costs moving forward, but that does not justify us losing more money.”
“It has no reflection on the quality of care,” Elizabethtown Supervisor Noel Merrihew III, said. “The game has changed, and it is unfortunate.”
“These are hard economic times and these are tough decisions, but that is what we are elected to do,” County Chairman and Jay Supervisor Randall “Randy” Douglas said.
Those against the move said they did not see either how it would save the county money or if it was something taxpayers wanted done.
“I think we should be looking at what we can do to improve that facility and not looking to get rid of it,” Willsboro Supervisor Edward “Ed” Hatch said.
“This will not have an impact on the 2012 budget because this is going to be a long process if we vote in favor of this,” Moriah Supervisor Thomas “Tom” Scozzafava said. “I know everything that I have read all points to the simple fact that private nursing homes want private pay. Most of our residents are Medicaid, so what is going to happen to these people. It’s a domino effect. I can think of 100 good reasons why we should not even be considering this and they are over there in the home right now. I think it’s a step in the wrong direction.”
“I see no benefit of getting rid of the nursing home if you have to attach terms and conditions to it,” Chesterfield Supervisor Gerald “Gerry” Morrow said. “I think the taxpayers of this county want to pay for a nursing home.”
“I feel that there are a lot of facts that we do not have and there will be a burden on our taxpayers either way,” Essex Supervisor Sharon Boisen said.
“Everybody generally cares about this,” North Hudson Supervisor Robert Dobie, who originally voted for the resolution in the Oct. 31 Ways and Means Committee meeting, said. “I have gone back and forth on it and I am now going to support that we keep the home.”
County Manager Daniel Palmer said that, with the resolution passed, the board would now come up with the terms and conditions of the sale that would be agreed upon by Marcus and Millichap before official advertisements were to go out for the facility.
“This is the retention of an agent,” Politi said. “We will meet with them to discuss terms and conditions that are acceptable to all of us and then move forward.”
“If they find a willing buyer for $4 million and we don’t take it, then we have to pay the commission,” Palmer said. “If they find one for $3 million and you don’t take it, then you do not have to take the commission. Broker fees will be applied if they find a willing buyer and terms.”
“If we can put conditions in the agreement that can save jobs and pay, then that would be the best of both worlds,” Crown Point Supervisor Bethany Kosmider said. “Let’s make a sound decision with the right information.”