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The nursing home saga continues

New county exec. pushes for change, but disagreements persist

— Weeks after taking office, Albany County Executive Dan McCoy has found himself embroiled in a debate that his predecessor found impossible to close: the future of the county nursing home.

McCoy raised the issue in his State of the County address and came under fire for a perceived shift in his stance when compared to his time heading the Legislature. In a recent interview, the new executive said it all comes down to dollars and cents.

“I haven’t changed my values. I strongly support our seniors, that will never waver,” said McCoy. “What has changed is the 2 percent cap and the way we deal with budgets going forward.”

McCoy was also clear he’s not behind any one of the four options he’s outlined. He said once he has all the information in, he’ll present everything to the Legislature to decide which route is the most fiscally responsible and adequately serves Albany County seniors.

McCoy said the county can continue running the nursing home the way it’s been running it and build a new facility; professionalize it with an outside management company that would take over operations; explore a public benefit corporation option; or privatize it.

While he hasn’t chiseled in stone which scenario he would like to see play out, McCoy said there are some facts he can’t ignore.

“Where I’m at is, within the 2 percent cap, it’s going to be hard going forward to sustain a nursing home. I’m not against it, I just need commitment from the Legislature that they’re committed to giving me funds to run a nursing home,” said McCoy.

The amount of money the county would have to throw in to run the nursing home is a debated issue. According to McCoy, it will cost roughly $11.3 million to operate the nursing home in 2012. That number includes about $7.2 million the county pays into a nursing home fund ($3.7 million is written into the budget and the rest is retiree pension costs, workman’s comp and other expenses) and about $3.9 million the county must match locally to the IGT funding it receives (a combination of federal and state dollars).

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