Otsego County lawmakers gave overwhelming approval today to the creation of a local development company that will handle and now control the marketing and sale of the deficit-ridden Otsego Manor nursing home.
The vote effectively removes the fate of the Manor from the Board of Representatives.
Meeting at the same building that had once served as the county's public nursing home, the Meadows, the Board of Representatives voted 11-3 to approve the creation of the LDC, which will be known as the Otsego County Health Facilities Corporation.
The company will legally be set up as a not-for-profit corporation with hte parameters of Section 501(c) (c) of the Internal Revenue Code.
Its first three officers will be a lawyer who has recommended that the LDC be created, Shawn Griffin of the law firm of Harris Beach, Rep. Katherine Stuligross, D-Oneonta, and Rep. Donald Lindberg, R-Worcester. Griffin said he will just be an officer only for the initial meeting of the LDC, when its board members will be appointed.
The Chairwoman of the Board of Representatives, Kathleen Clark, R-Otego, said she will be appointing people with specialized expertise -- such as a banker, a gerontologist, businesspeople and those who support the goal of having quality care provided to patients by a private operator.
Voting against the LDC were Keith McCarty, R-Springfield, Rep. Gary Koutnik, D-Oneonta and Rep. John Kosmer, D-Fly Creek.
By some accounts, a private buyer could be selected by the LDC as early as the end of this year. Once negotiations have concluded with the private buyer, the state Department of Health would have 60 days to determine if the buyer should be awarded a state certificate to operate the home.
The union for county workers, the Civil Service Employees Association, has signaled that it is likely to sue the Board of Representatives, challenging the legality of declaring the nursing home to be surplus property.
Advocates for selling the Manor to a private operator say the county can no longer afford the escalating subsidy that it provides to keep the home running.
The union and a grassroots group advocating to keep the home as a county proprety have been warning that patient care will decline and there will be fewer staffers once the home is privatized.