COOPERSTOWN — Otsego County lawmakers were roundly criticized Monday night by citizens who accused them of forging ahead to create a local development corporation to sell the deficit-plagued Otsego Manor without first engaging in union contract talks and pressing the state for more aid.
The litany of complaints came at a public hearing called by the Board of Representatives on a plan to have the LDC oversee the sale of the 174-bed county-owned nursing home. Board members have said they have been forced to consider selling the Manor, despite its strong reputation for high quality patient care, because of rapidly escalating costs and cuts in government reimbursement rates.
Approximately 80 percent of the home’s residents are Medicaid patients.
Maureen Culbert of Springfield, a Manor volunteer who has led a grassroots organizing effort to keep the Manor as a county program, accused the board of refusing to explore alternatives that could make the Manor affordable to operate.
“The county board does not want the public involved,” said Culbert. A recent series of informational meetings on the proposed sale, she said, amounted to “propaganda sessions.”
Meanwhile, representatives of the Civil Service Employees Association signaled that the union will likely sue the county should the board form the LDC in order to streamline the marketing and sale of the Manor to a private operator.
Lynda Broadwell, the CSEA negotiator for the union’s county workers, said the formation of the LDC would be detrimental to both the employees and to the home’s patients. She and others argued the board was effectively washing its hands of the fate of the Manor by creating the LDC.
“Ultimately, the responsibility lies with you no matter how far you try to distance yourself from it,” Broadwell said.
The proposal to form the LDC is expected to be taken up by the Board of Representatives at its meeting at 10 a.m. on Wednesday. The meeting will be held at the Otsego Meadows office complex because it is anticipated that a large crowd of people will be in attendance.