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The Times
  • Legislature votes to close Country Manor

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  • HERKIMER — The Herkimer County Legislature last month authorized the cancellation of a contract with Advanced Healthcare Management for the sale of Country Manor.
    Wednesday afternoon, the Legislature voted 14-0 to take all “necessary steps” to close the adult care home on state Route 28. Those steps, according to the resolution, include obtaining the approval of the state Department of Health and any other agency whose approval is necessary, developing a closure plan for the facility, ensuring the safety and well being of the home’s 19 residents during the transition process and finding appropriate alternative living arrangements for the facility’s residents.
    “It’s a sad day in Herkimer County, but this is something that has to be done,” said Legislator Patrick Russell, R-Old Forge. “I’m sorry this has to be done, but hopefully the people who live there will find themselves in better places for it.”
    “It’s long overdue to move Country Manor out of the public domain and into the private sector,” said Legislator Dennis Korce, R-Mohawk. Korce added government has “no business” operating an adult home when the private sector is able to do it “better.”
    The move to cancel the contract came after Advanced Healthcare sent a letter dated Feb. 6 asking the county to modify the contract to add a $75,000 lump sum payment and an additional $2,700 per month for one year to pay for the purchaser’s additional expenses related to legal fees, additional consultant and accountant fees and anticipated depleted census changes, along with higher operating costs due to the necessity of recognizing the Civil Service Employees Association as the collective bargaining representative for its employees. Advanced Healthcare advised the county if this proposal were not accepted, it would not go ahead with the proposed purchase, according to the resolution.
    The county authorized the sale of Country Manor to Advanced Healthcare in the fall of 2012, and entered into a contract with the company on Oct. 31, 2012. The agreement stated the county could terminate the contract if the closing had not taken place on or before June 1. That deadline was later extended, but CSEA brought litigation to set aside the proposed sale, saying the county had not demonstrated there was no need for the facility. The county won the case in Supreme Court, but CSEA filed an appeal.
    In December 2013, the Legislature passed a resolution canceling the county’s contract with Advanced Healthcare unless an agreement could be reached by Dec. 27 between the purchaser and CSEA. Later that month, the Legislature approved a resolution extending the deadline for the sale of Country Manor by six months, contingent upon CSEA’s withdrawing its lawsuit, which attempted to block the sale of the home. Before the end of December, CSEA and Advanced Healthcare reached an agreement providing current employees with positions with the new owner at their current salaries. The company also agreed to recognize the union as the collective bargaining agent for the workers.
    Page 2 of 2 - “The sale was an effort by this Legislature to allow Country Manor to operate as a privately owned facility, which would have allowed the home’s 19 residents the opportunity to continue to reside there and would have given current employees the opportunity to continue their employment at the facility,” said Legislature Chairman Vincent Bono, R-Schuyler. “From the onset, the Legislature had every intention of taking care of the residents and taking care of employment. The effort was made there.”
    Bono said Country Manor was costing taxpayers $705,000 a year to operate and required $1 million in improvements, something he said the county could not afford.
    “The taxpayers can no longer afford this kind of investment, especially when the private sector is able to do it more effectively and efficiently than we can,” he said.
    Bono said the next step in the process is drafting the facility’s closure plan, which will begin during committee meetings Thursday morning. The meetings will begin at 10 a.m. in conference room No. 310 of the county office building at 109 Mary St., Herkimer.
    The goal, he said, is to keep all 19 residents in Herkimer County. He added the residents will be evaluated and transferred to new facilities based on the level of care they require.
    As for the facility’s 30 employees, Bono said many of them have transferable skills and could find employment at the facilities that take Country Manor’s residents in.
    He said the closure process could take six to nine months to complete.
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