The Horace Nye Nursing Home in Elizabethtown.
While the Essex County Board of Supervisors is seeking more money, it will not be the sole factor.
Supervisors voted to seek the “highest and best” bid from a trio of prospective buyers of the Horace Nye Nursing Home during its April 2 regular meeting.
However, there was a lot of discussion on if the resolution meant the price tag would be the key determining factor in the sale.
“I don't think it should be sold to the highest bidder,” Willsboro Supervisor Ed Hatch said. “I think that it should be sold to the best quality bidder. It needs to go to the best service.”
“It's not just the highest bidder, it is the most responsible bidder,” replied board chair Randy Douglas of Jay.
County attorney Daniel Manning said that he regreted the fact that the broker, Marcus and Millichap, had already received the new bids before the resolution was passed, but that the broker was merely doing its job.
“It is Marcus and Millichap's best interest to go out and get us the highest price,” Manning said. “I decided that because we had three bidders, we should go back to them and get the highest price from the highest responsible bidder. I do not know of any reason why it was done (before the resolution was passed), it just happened. The bottom line is, do you want to try and solicit the highest and best price or not, that is what you are voting on.”
Manning said that he felt the county was obligated to do that.
“You have an obligation to solicit for higher bids,” Manning said. “This is not a resolution that sanctions a sale, it is simply asking for higher bids. We do not need this resolution but for me.”
Elizabethtown Supervisor Margaret Bartley questioned if the county had a plan or timetable for the sale.
“My concern right now is that we do not seem to have a clear path that we are following,” Bartley said. “We are doing some things at different times that are confusing some people. This is going to go on until we have a date.”
“My intention is after we get through the process of the bidding, and if this board wants to select a bidder, I will appoint a committee to visit the sites of some of the facilities that these companies operate,” Douglas said. “When we see what bids we receive, the task force will take those bids and look at them. It's not just to look at the financials, its to look at everything and do our due diligence to find out how they operate.”
Douglas said that the county would do everything needed before a decision was made.
“If we do decide to sell, I do believe that we will have done our job and our duty,” he said. “It is a long process and we can't really give them a date of where we were going to be through the process.”
Discussion during the resolution’s time on the floor also included looking at the level of care at the facility.
“I am looking around here and the information shows that the private homes are looking good, the not-for-profits are not and the Horace Nye Home is in the middle,” Bartley said.
“There's people who will think that people are going to be put out onto the street and lose jobs and that is just not the case,” Wilmington Supervisor Randy Preston said. “If you go to the Health Department and look at the Horace Nye Home and the three bidders, you will see that we do not fare well against them.”
“I have to believe that they both give really good care and that there is isolated incidents in either one,” Chesterfield Supervisor Gerald Morrow said. “Maybe short term, everything will be fine. But in the long term, we need a place for our residents to go. No one will be put out of the nursing home, but accepting new people, no matter what kind of strings you have attached, is going to change.”
Supervisors also discussed the shortfall in revenue at the facility.
“It still bothers me that we lose $2-3 million and if we are going to sell this, how are they are going to break even or make a profit,” Schroon Supervisor Michael Marnell said.
“We are not in the nursing home business and I do not believe the county should be in the nursing home business,” Douglas said.
“We are in the business of watching out for all of our residents, and that is why I support keeping the nursing home,” Morrow countered.
“I have been here a lot of years and things have changed, but some of our responsibility is to help those that cannot help themselves,” Scozzafava said. “You need a safety net out there somewhere. I am just saying that some of these services we are morally obligated to give to the residents.”
Scozzafava also said there are other areas he felt should be looked at.
“Have we talked about getting out of the college business,” he questions. “We are in that for about $2 million per year and we are not in the college business. The list goes on and on.”
County Manager daniel Palmer said his report on the Horace Nye Home will be coming shortly.
“I am well into the report and it addresses every question that is out there,” Palmer said. “Everything that is being talked about will be answered in that report.”
Palmer also added that the initial plan for the home was for it to be profitable.
“The home was set up as an enterprise fund, which means that it is supposed to pay for itself,” Palmer said. “We have been $21,000,700 short of that since 2001. It becomes unsustainable and at what point do you decide that you are going to stay in the business or completely shut the doors.”
Even though Palmer reported that Marcus and Millichap had received the new bids from the three businesses: Centers for Specialty Care out of New York City; Gerald Woods CPA, out of Nassau County; and Elliot Management Group out of Rockland County; the resolution gives them until April 9 before the bids will be reviewed.