ELIZABETHTOWN - Employees of the Horace Nye Nursing Home took to the streets in front of the Essex County Courthouse Monday to protest the potential sale of the facility.
Meanwhile, inside the courthouse, county supervisors approved a resolution to solicit additional bids for the nursing home. The lawmakers want to give three previous bidders a chance to present their "best and final offer," according to county Manager Dan Palmer.
But one supervisor wasn't pleased with how the board went about approving the resolution, since those three final bids have already been submitted.
Celeste Beeman, of Port Henry, a certified nurse’s assistant at the Horace Nye Nursing Home in Elizabethtown, leads a demonstration protesting the potential sale of the facility outside of the Essex County Courthouse on Monday.
(Enterprise photo — Chris Morris)
The county received three bids for $4 million earlier this month, all from firms located in New York state: Gerald J. Woods, CPA, in Baldwin in Nassau County; Eliot Management Group of Monsey in Rockland County; and the Centers for Specialty Care in the Bronx.
Supervisors previously entered into an agreement with Chicago-based real estate investment firm Marcus & Millichap to list the nursing home nationally. Many supervisors want to sell the home because it runs at an annual loss of about $3 million.
On Monday, the county approved a resolution asking those three firms to turn in final offers. But as Moriah town Supervisor Tom Scozzafava noted, those final offers have already arrived.
"We're doing a resolution to go back out to bid to these three bidders - did I just hear that they're already back?" he asked.
North Elba town Supervisor Roby Politi, said the resolution came to the Ways and Means Committee after the three bids came in. The bids were sent to the county manager but not reviewed or approved.
"Isn't that a wee bit improper?" Scozzafava asked. "How do you go out and request bids when the board hasn't even approved to go out and request bids?
"We have already received their best and final offer prior to this resolution being adopted by the board," Scozzafava added.
Palmer explained that Marcus & Millichap went back to the firms before getting approval from the full Board of Supervisors, which meets Monday.
The resolution states that supervisors won't look at the final bids until April 9.
County Attorney Dan Manning said he agreed with Scozzafava that the process for setting the final bids didn't happen the way it should have.
Jay town Supervisor Randy Douglas noted that the bids haven't been reviewed or accepted, and that Monday's resolution only helps the county by seeking more money from the three interested parties.
As supervisors debated the sale of the nursing home inside the county courthouse, a crowd of nursing home employees protested it outside.
The demonstrators encouraged passing motorists to honk their horns in a show of support - and those horns were heard honking throughout Monday's committee meeting.
Celeste Beeman, of Port Henry, has worked as a certified nurse's assistant at Horace Nye for more than two decades. She told the Enterprise the public needs to get involved to save the nursing home from being privatized.
"Private care is nothing compared to the care that we provide at Horace Nye," Beeman said.
Some supervisors who support selling the nursing home have said it's the patients and workers at Horace Nye who make the most noise when the county talks about selling the facility. But Beeman said more members of the public are educating themselves about the nursing home and its true costs and benefits to the taxpayer.
Beeman said a taxpayer with a home assessed at $100,000 ends up paying about $35 per year to support Horace Nye.
"The problem is, if we sell, we're not going to have the services available to the people in this county that need it," Beeman said.