In my opinion, only the fourth option, leasing the facility to a private management company, meets our objectives and reduces the flow of red ink.
The proposed lessee, United Services Group (USG) is recommended by the New York State Department of Health and currently operates 11 facilities in New York. USG has several homes where a union is recognized as a bargaining agent and has agreed to this same option for the Albany County Nursing Home. Through a transition plan, USG has also agreed to hire most, if not all of the current employees, and will keep the same admissions policy to provide a “safety net” for our residents.
It is projected by the Albany County Budget Department that leasing the nursing home would save the county an estimated $31 million in just four years. And this is a conservative estimate. Over a 10-year period, the county executive has projected the savings to be $70 to $100 million. While the lease agreement does call for a loan to the lessee of $12 million, the county will have saved more than 2 ½ times that amount in the first four years of the lease alone.
The legislature has already taxed Albany County residents $9.7 million for the nursing home’s operation for the second half of 2013. If the lease agreement can be quickly approved and the turnover of the facility is made by June 30, that $9.7 million could be used to reduce the 2014 tax burden on our residents and businesses. Delays which move the transition date past June 30 will waste the money of the Albany County taxpayers to the tune of (in rounded figures) $1.6 million every month, $375,000 every week and $55,000 every day.
The above facts, not politics, should be the basis for dealing with our nursing home. I therefore urge my fellow colleagues to move forward with the proposed lease agreement for the good of our elderly and our taxpayers. I hope you, the reader, will contact your county legislator and do the same.