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April 4, 2013

Board to weigh options for Manor sale

COOPERSTOWN — A decision on whether to create a local development corporation (LDC) to handle the privatization of Otsego Manor could be made by the Otsego County Board of Representatives in just four weeks.

Despite a plea from a labor union leader to negotiate a new cost-saving labor contract, county lawmakers gave every indication Wednesday they remain committed to selling the 174-bed nursing home to put an end to a growing financial subsidy straining county finances.

Braced for what she described as a distinct possibility of Civil Service Employees Association trying to trip up the privatization plan, Rep. Katherine Stuligross, D-Oneonta, the chairwoman of the Manor Committee said: “It looks like we’ll be sued no matter what.”

The county board has been preparing to sell the Manor since September, a decision that is vehemently opposed not only by the union but also by patient advocates who argue the quality of care will drop once a private operator takes charge.

The Manor Committee is expected to review three privatization options — setting up the LDC, having the board sell under a provision of county law or drafting a new local law allowing a party other than the highest bidder to purchase it — at its Wednesday meeting.

According to Stuligross, if the panel recommends taking the LDC path, a public hearing would have to be held on the proposal. That hearing would be held at 6 p.m. April 29 at the Otsego County Courthouse in Cooperstown.

The full county board would then vote on the LDC option at its next monthly board meeting, slated to be held at 10 a.m. May 1 at the county office building in Cooperstown.

Stuligross said she has warmed to the idea of going forward with an LDC despite initially having reservations about that option, which largely disconnects the board from marketing the nursing home to potential buyers.

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