Courthouse project, Valley View saved money

This letter is in response to Joe Wiedemer’s recent criticism of the current courthouse rehab project and the sale of the Valley View Nursing Home and apparently my role as principal proponent and commissioner manager of both.

The courthouse rehab project will save the county in excess of $15 million in demolition and rebuilding costs. The sale of Valley View saved $12.6 million in short term losses and expenses alone.

Four years ago, the county was advised that just a few more years of unchecked water infiltration could necessitate the tearing down of the courthouse and the need to re-build.

We were also advised that simply matching the same foot space would result in a new building cost in excess of

$20 million, not a surprise when you consider current building codes and prevailing wage obligations.

It would not be surprising if the actual cost would be greater.

As for the benefits of selling Valley View, they have been addressed in the past. The short-term benefits have been significant.

The home had been unable to pay its $9 million share of the pension contribution during the same period that the county did not make contributions.

The sale of the home produced $8 million that was contributed to the pension fund over the past 4 years to help cover its unpaid share. And, of course, these contributions have produced investment earnings for the pension fund.

We were also advised by the home’s manager Affinity Healthcare Services that the county had previously entered into a permanent Medicaid reimbursement rate agreement with the state which did not include many otherwise reimbursable costs.

This resulted in a $1 million shortage per year to the home and the county. Had we continued to operate Valley View, this shortage from the day of closing May 31, 2013 to the end of this year would total approximately $4.6 million.

Together the courthouse rehab project and Valley View sale savings in 4 ¢ years total approximately $27.6 million. This is more than the County collects in any one year in real estate taxes. Saving the county $27.6 million in unnecessary expense in both cases was the right decision.

I would do them both again.

Terry Tomassetti

Blair County Commissioner