The purchase of Country Manor is moving forward, but not without some trepidation.
Despite much discussion about a 20-year tax abatement to purchase the adult-care facility, county legislators in the Ways and Means, Human Resources and County Properties committees Thursday unanimously voted to move forward with a purchase agreement.
The county Legislature still has to consider and vote on the proposal. Its next meeting is Sept. 12.
For years, the county has attempted to downsize or sell Country Manor, which loses between $500,000 and $600,000 annually.
The offer with Advanced Healthcare Management LLP would allow the business to purchase the facility for $335,000 over a five-year term, which Board of Legislators Chairman Vincent Bono, R-Schuyler, said would alleviate the burden on taxpayers, provide for the residents and consider employing those already at the manor.
“We’re doing exactly what the taxpayers want us to do,” he said. “I don’t think an opportunity like this is going to come around again.”
Ways & Means Chairman Patrick Russell, R-Old Forge, said Advanced Healthcare owns Bethany Gardens — a skilled nursing home in Rome — as well as facilities in Norwich and Syracuse.
Officials previously agreed to submit an application to the state Department of Health for a certificate of need for 80 assisted-living beds on behalf of Advanced Healthcare.
Several legislators, however, are wary of Advanced Healthcare asking for a 20-year tax abatement.
“I don’t know if it would be in our best interest to be saying, ‘Hey, we want people getting tax abatements,’” Russell said.
County Attorney Robert Malone explained that the county does not have the legal right to determine whether an entity gets a tax abatement, and that the decision is up to the Industrial Development Agency.
Legislators John Brezinski, D-Frankfort, and Robert Schrader, R-Herkimer, said they were concerned that voting in favor of the agreement also would suggest they’re in favor of the tax abatement.
Russell suggested stating prior to the full legislature vote that they’d want to encourage the IDA to not consider the abatement.
“I don’t see it happening,” Bono said of the IDA approving the abatement.
“Even if they give a 20-year that doesn’t mean they’re not paying taxes,” said Legislator Kurt Ackerman, R-Little Falls.
Other stipulations in the agreement include:
• The county agrees to pay the purchaser a transition fee of $18,000 per month for one year after the closing of the transaction. This fee would total $216,000 during that first year.
• The purchaser would allow residents living in the facility to remain there as long as their needs can be met in accordance with state and federal health care regulations.
• The purchaser may elect — but is under no obligation — to offer employment to employees currently at Country Manor.