The search has begun for an agency to take over operations of the 105-bed Steuben County Health Care Facility on Mt. Washington Road.

The search has begun for an agency to take over operations of the 105-bed Steuben County Health Care Facility on Mt. Washington Road.

 

County legislators agreed Monday to hire the Chicago-based law firm, Marcus Millichap, to search for purchase offers for the four-year old county nursing home.

 

The firm specializes in the sale and leasing of nursing homes, and is handling searches for several other county nursing homes in the state, according to county Legislature Chairman Joe Hauryski, R-Campbell.

 

According their proposal, Marcus Millichap will conduct the search at no cost and collect a fee based on the completed deal. A second proposal, from an unnamed organization, called for an upfront fee of $250,000 with no guarantee a buyer would be found.

 

Local CSEA union officials attended the legislative session Monday and spoke against the search, Hauryski said.

 

Union leaders and staff say selling the facility will be a disservice to county residents now living at the nursing home, charging the quality of service will deteriorate if a private firm takes over.

 

Last month, county lawmakers agreed to contract with Morrison Senior Living for maintenance, food service and housekeeping. The terms of contract are being negotiated and affects less than two dozen employees.

 

The sale or lease of the facility could impact roughly 130 nursing and clerical workers at the nursing home, although Hauryski said no one is rushing to make a deal.

 

“It could be six months, it could be a year,” he said.

 

The new facility was built several years ago under assurances from the state Steuben would receive higher rates for low-income residents.

 

Those higher rates never materialized, and the state is now planning on paying all nursing homes an average rate, depending on regional operational costs. That could reduce the facility’s revenues even more.

 

Adding to the county’s dilemma is the state’s mandatory 2 percent property tax cap. With the nursing home’s reserves now depleted, lawmakers will have to cut other local services, or vote to exceed the tax cap in order to pay a deficit pegged next year near $3 million.