County's sale of Nursing Home on track to close by the end of the year
As County Manager Jay Gsell and the Legislature work on finalizing the 2017 budget, it's been a bit of a nail-biter for county officials wondering if they would be able to close on the sale of the Nursing Home before Dec. 31.
Without the close, the county would need to include nearly $16 million in expenses and offsetting revenue in the budget.
Back in May, the NYS Health Department approved the certificate of need ("CoN" -- a kind of license) 160-bed care facility, but officials had gotten no word on the other CoN for the 80-bed adult home.
All along, Gsell felt the sale would be finalized before the end of the year, but without final approval, there was no way to count on it.
Yesterday, an executive with the prospective Nursing Home buyer, Premier Health LLC, got a phone call from a state official saying the certificate of need was approved and an official letter should be dropped in the mail today.
"At least now we have a very good sense that this is actually going to happen in the calendar year 2016," Gsell said.
Once the letter is in hand, both sides can start working on the details of closing the sale, including transferring employees and contractors, completing paperwork, and finalizing how to handle accounts receivable, among other details.
That will be a three- or four-week process, Gsell said.
The county will get about $15 million for the nursing home, but after expenses, only about 25 percent of those proceeds will be available for either the general fund or the capital fund.
Gsell was able to share the good news with legislators yesterday during a budget work session.
There were no decisions that came out of yesterday's budget discussion. The legislators have a 292-page, $141 million budget to pore through as they grapple with their options for the tax rate, deficit spending or any big spending cuts that they might make.
Gsell's budget is balanced, but it requires pulling $1 million from reserve funds and reallocating sales tax revenue from future road and bridge repairs to the 2017 general fund.
A $15 million increase in assessed value, of which about $7 million is taxable, for properties in the county, makes the break-even tax rate for the 2016 vs. 2017 tax levy at $9.66 cents per $1,000 of assessed value.
Gsell's budget proposal increases the tax levy by $645,000, the maximum increase under the state's tax cap law.
That would set the 2017 property tax rate from the county at $9.76 per thousand of assessed value, or 10 cents lower than 2016.
The Legislature will consider whether to pass a resolution authorizing them to override the tax cap limit to raise taxes. Because of timing and budget deadline issues, the resolution will need to be passed before they even get to the point of deciding what the tax rate should be.
It's a policy decision for the legislature whether to accept Gsell's budget as proposed, raise taxes to reduce deficit spending, or make significant cuts in non-mandated services, such as parks and law enforcement.