The CSEA, New York State’s leading union, issued a statement Monday urging Rockland County legislators to reject the proposed Local Development Corporation (LDC). Rockland County Executive C. Scott Vanderhoef proposed transferring the county’s Summit Park nursing home to the LDC. The CSEA’s statement depicted the LDC as a “legal scheme” and “a non-regulated shell corporation that has little oversight and no accountability to taxpayers.”
CSEA Local 844 represents nursing home workers at Summit Park. The state union says it has publicly argued against LDCs questioning their legality and that they “should not be used to allow municipalities to skirt regulations or avoid public scrutiny.”
Summit Park Hospital and Nursing Care Center serves as the county’s public nursing home and long-term acute care hospital. A public hearing on the LDC proposal takes place Tuesday at 7:05 p.m.
In recent weeks, CSEA has undertaken a campaign to alert residents to the LDC proposal and encourage them to contact their legislator and attend the public hearing.
“The people we’ve spoken with are appalled by the county executive’s plan,” said CSEA Southern Region President Billy Riccaldo. “Residents don’t want Rockland County abandoning our seniors, especially through a scheme with such little transparency and accountability. It’s wrong to fast track the abandonment of the county’s moral responsibility to the senior population. Furthermore, the questionable legality of this process alone should raise serious questions.”
CSEA has lawsuits pending in Onondaga and Saratoga counties related to those counties transferring their nursing homes to newly-created LDCs. The CSEA is arguing that a provision of the law states a local government cannot sell property for which there is still a necessary public purpose. CSEA said among the legal issues in question are accountability since taxpayers still retain debt obligations.
The use of LDCs for such purposes has drawn scrutiny and criticism elsewhere. In an April 2011 report, State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli proposed reforms limiting local governments’ use of LDCs. The DiNapoli report criticized the use of LDCs to fund government operations. The CSEA noted the Center for Governmental Research, the Rochester-based think tank that performed a feasibility study on Summit Park, raised numerous concerns in a May 2011 report on LDCs including that they are not required to use competitive bidding and are not required to comply with the Open Meetings Law and Freedom of Information Laws.