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May 1, 2013

Let LDC handle Manor sale

The Daily Star

---- — It’s a dilemma, make no mistake about it.

Often erroneously used as a synonym for a big problem, a dilemma is more-accurately defined as the choice between two unpalatable choices. No matter which of a bull’s horns might gore you, it’s not going to be pleasant, hence the phrase “on the horns of a dilemma.”

When it comes to the question of what to do about its nursing home, the Manor, Otsego County has a first-class dilemma on its hands, and the situation is anything but pleasant.

On the one hand — or horn — the Manor is costing as much as $11 million a year, a deficit the county board recognizes can’t be sustained.

On the other horn, the nursing home is widely regarded as an outstanding 174-bed facility that provides top-notch care to people who really need it.

Residents and their families worry quite legitimately about cutbacks if the county sells the place to a private business.

Union workers also realize their jobs will be in jeopardy if private ownership takes over.

This morning, the board will meet before what is likely to be a large, raucous audience of interested parties at the Otsego Meadows office complex and — unless there is a highly unlikely sea change in its previous position — vote to form a local development corporation to sell the Manor.

Especially in the wake of what happened in nearby Delaware County, where private ownership led to the closing of the 199-bed Countryside Care Center in Delhi, people have a right to be wary. In addition to residents being forced out, about 200 jobs were lost.

Still, a majority of Otsego County board members feel they have little choice but to sell the facility, and if that’s the case, then a local development corporation — or LDC — is the way to go.

According to the state comptroller’s office, LDCs are private, nonprofit corporations created by or for local governments and are often used to avoid constitutional or statutory provisions that would apply to projects undertaken directly by a local government. 

An LDC would take the burden of actually selling the Manor away from the board. On the surface, this sounds like a good idea. After all, board members aren’t experts in this sort of thing. If an LDC can help ensure that the Manor is sold to a responsible operator, perhaps the facility can avoid Countryside’s fate. 

After all is said and done, after the threatened lawsuits by the Civil Service Employees Association and others, let’s face it, the Manor will be sold. The best way out of the current dilemma would appear to be leaving the sale to those who know what they’re doing.