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May 16, 2013

Board gives deed to Manor seller

By Joe Mahoney Staff Writer
The Daily Star

---- — COOPERSTOWN — The new directors of Otsego’s County’s new local development corporation became acquainted with one another Wednesday, and swiftly found themselves holding the deed to the 174-bed Otsego Manor nursing home.

The first mission of the Otsego County Health Facilities Corporation is to craft a request for proposals from parties that are interested in purchasing the home

Rep. Katherine Stuligross, D-Oneonta, was installed as the chairwoman of the corporation’s board of directors.

She estimated it will take six to eight weeks to develop the request for proposals, starting from the directors’ next meeting, slated to be held at 3:30 p.m. June 4 at the Manor.

In putting together the request for proposals, the corporation will be guided by the Center for Governmental Research in Rochester and by an attorney retained by the county Board of Representatives, Shawn Griffin of the law firm Harris Beach.

The transfer of the deed to the new organization effectively takes control of the Manor away from the county board. However, two members of the county board — Stuligross and Rep. Don Lindberg, R-Worcester, both members of the county’s Manor committee — are serving as directors of the corporation. In addition, Rep. Kathleen Clark, R-Otego, is an ex-officio member of the new organization.

Stuligross made it clear that while public input will be considered at meetings of the LDC, there will be no revisiting of the decision to privatize the facility, whose annual county subsidy is now in the millions of dollars.

“It’s no longer discussable,” she said. “The decision has been made.”

Lindberg said once the LDC receives proposals it is expected that the directors will make on-site visits to nursing homes being operated by the suitors for the Manor.

“We want to make sure we get a good company when we sell it,” he said.

The current market value of the Manor is unknown, but a professional appraiser is expected to be lined up as part of the business of the LDC.

Lindberg estimated that, all told, the county has spent $50 million on the Manor, including the $28 million to build it. The county still must pay off a $17 million bond and $7 million in interest charges, he said.

“We have to do something because we can’t keep subsidizing it,” he said. “It’s either take a loss now or lose more later.”

Also named to the LDC board were Kim Muller, a former mayor of Oneonta; Oneonta businessman Rick Eastman; retired commercial banker William Dornburgh of Cooperstown; Carol Kiehn Kirkey of Oneonta, an advocate for Manor patients; and Dr. Donald Pollock, former medical director of the Manor’s forerunner, the Otsego Meadows.

Stuligross said Kirkey has also volunteered to serve as the directors’ liaison to Manor patients, and will regularly brief them on the LDC’s activities.