While the Maplewood Manor Local Development Corporation (LDC) is taking steps forward to enable the sale of the facility, CSEA has filed a lawsuit to block that sale.
“This proposed sale creates a legal morass,” said CSEA Public Information Officer Steve Madarsz. “There is no accountability. The LDC was formed with an unelected group of people that have no accountability with Saratoga County taxpayers. This situation is a legal and moral wasteland.”
Madarsz feels the lawsuit stands on solid ground.
“Under state law, public property can’t be sold if there is still a use for it,” he said.
Madarsz also alleged the Maplewood Manor LDC is circumventing public meetings law in order to move the process along.
“They are going to extremes to circumvent the public process and doing it to avoid public scrutiny,” Madarsz said. “This has a direct bearing on our elder citizens and is frankly undemocratic.”
CSEA represents most employees of the county-owned nursing facility. The union filed the case in state Supreme Court March 20; it has been assigned to Judge Robert Chauvin.
The county transferred Maplewood Manor to the LDC in January after a highly-charged public hearing in which several Maplewood Manor employees, as well as area residents, protested the sale of the facility. The county Board of Supervisors gave the LDC authority to issue bonds or notes for up to $10 million.
At the March 26 meeting, the LDC took several steps to facilitate the sale of the nursing home.
County Attorney Steve Dorsey has prepared a lease agreement and leaseback agreement with the county in which the LDC will have an interest in the facility to market and sell to a qualified buyer. It grants the LDC the ability to take title from the county and transfer that title.
The leaseback agreement is a tool allowing the county to continue to operate Maplewood until it is transferred to a private owner. The agreement also provides rental provisions where the county will pay an annual rent to the LDC so operational costs can be paid.
According to attorney Justin Miller, who is a member of Dorsey’s office, the agreements will allow the LDC to undertake the marketing and sale of the facility.
Also at the meeting, the LDC designated Ryan Moore of the County Administrator’s office to act as the primary authorizer for the Public Authorities Reporting Information System (PARIS).
County Administrator Spencer Hellwig said the appointment is necessary because the county is required to comply with regulations. He added that some of the files, including the financial report, has to be done electronically through the PARIS system.
“In order to do that, we simply need to authorize someone to do that,” said Hellwig. “Ryan has volunteered to do that.”
In a lighter moment, some members teased Moore on his appointment. “He probably heard that PARIS part and thought he was taking a trip,” said LDC member Ed Kinowski, who is also the Stillwater supervisor.
Kanowski has been designated to be the point person in order to help with the sale. He is also Chairman of the Public Health Committee.
Also at the meeting, the LDC drafted a resolution to amend its investment policy. LDC Chairman “Mo” Wright, who is also the Hadley Supervisor, said that in the organizational draft, the investment for the FDIC was at 140 percent and county policy is 105 percent.
Finally, the LDC appointed national real estate broker Marcus & Millichap to conduct the sale of Maplewood. The agreement will be a seller-exclusive brokerage agreement with the firm retaining a 2.5 percent compensation fee once the sale is final.
Hellwig wanted to emphasize that the sale of Maplewood Manor won’t go to just any buyer. “We want to make sure any potential buyer has a solid financial background,” he said.
Hellwig said that the LDC is still on track for an end of the year sale, in spite of the lawsuit filed by CSEA.
Ironically, County officials and CSEA attorneys both agree the nursing home is a much-needed facility in the county. “The reality is, CSEA and the county are on the same page,” said Hellwig, referring to a county-funded assessment. “We agree that the report is accurate.”
To contact the reporter on this story email email@example.com
To contact the editor on this story email firstname.lastname@example.org