HOLLIDAYSBURG - Blair County Commissioner Ted Beam Jr. took a stand against selling Valley View Home while fellow commissioners voted Thursday in favor of circulating a request for proposals from interested bidders.
"The philosophy of selling that home just doesn't seem to fit with our community," Beam said.
Commissioner Diane Meling, who said that she is not committed one way or the other, voted with Commissioner Terry Tomassetti to distribute the RFP with a Feb. 1 response deadline.
"I believe we need to move forward with this process," Meling said, "to see what kind of interest and dollars are available."
The RFP will require those interested in buying Valley View Home to spell out their experience with nursing care facilities and the commitments they'll make toward Valley View's operations. Responders must also submit a bid of no less than than $11.25 million.
Beam said he remains interested in the responses but voted against the RFP after taking time to review the matter and listen to comments from Valley View residents, employees and local voters. Beam also said he read each of the 4,000 names on a petition against selling the home, submitted in October by representatives of the Service Employees International Union.
The purchaser is expected, through Dec. 31, 2023, to maintain a licensed skilled nursing facility on the grounds of Valley View Home. Other uses for the grounds include a geriatric center, long-term care or assisted living facility, a continuing care retirement community or similar health-care-related facility, with ancillary uses.
Current residents at Valley View have the right to remain in the facility as long as they wish and as long as they are eligible to receive care at a skilled nursing facility.
A successful bidder must be qualified under the state Department of Health standards to operate a skilled nursing facility.
Even if a successful bidder is entitled to a complete or partial exemption from real estate taxes, the bidder must agree, through Dec. 31, 2013, to pay real estate taxes to the county, as if there were no exemption.
Bidders must be willing to accept assignment of the county's lease with the American Youth Soccer Organization through June 30, 2014.
Source: Blair County Request for Proposals: Valley View Nursing Home County Health Care Facility
"The people of this county do not want us to go through with the selling of that home," Beam said.
Tomassetti, who made a detailed presentation at Tuesday's meeting about the home's financial picture and its shortfall in support of the county's pension plan, said he remains concerned about those obligations falling to county's taxpayers, including its senior citizens.
"I would prefer not to see our seniors lose their homes to taxes," Tomassetti said.
While representatives of the Chicago firm of Marcus & Millichap suggested the minimum bid price of $11.25 million, the firm estimated the property's value at $13.5 million, subject to negotiation. But even if it sells for that amount, Tomassetti said Tuesday that there will be no profit or surplus because that much revenue is needed to cover the home's liabilities.
Meling said she is interested in seeing how much bidders are willing to pay for the home, a factor that will be a key component in deciding to sell or not.
One factor in favor of private ownership will be the ability of a new owner to approach the state for a reimbursement calculation applicable to Medicare and Medicaid expenses, Meling said.
The county's reimbursement rate was calculated in the past without factoring in the home's costs for workers' compensation and unemployment compensation, she said, and attempts to update the calculation have failed.
Beam said he thinks Valley View "is holding its own at this point in time" but as Tomassetti fears, could encounter financial problems in the future.
"I think that applies to everything in county government," Beam said.
Mirror Staff Writer Kay Stephens is at 946-7456.