Attorneys from the Harris Beach law firm gave a presentation on the timeline for a possible Local Development Corporation (LDC) to assist with the sale of the Summit Park Healthcare Facility at Wednesday’s meeting of the Rockland County Legislature Budget & Finance Committee.
According to the timeline presented by C. Todd Miles and Shawn Griffin, the legislature would have to act quickly, using next week’s meeting to set a public hearing for the Dec. 4 meeting, where the legislature would also vote on the LDC. Miles said a public hearing is required for the transfer of the facility to another entity, such as an LDC.
The LDC, named the Rockland County Health Facilities Corporation, would take over as the owner of Summit Park while looking for another party to sell it to. Miles said the county would be selling the real estate rights so the LDC “becomes the landlord and the county will be the tenant with operating responsibilities.”
According to the timeline, if the LDC is approved at the Dec. 4 meeting, in the following week the LDC would be organized, setting up a board of volunteers and approving the transfer of facilities, which would be completed by the end of this year. A request for proposal would also be issued.
The LDC board would choose the best proposal in the early months of next year and negotiate a contract. After that, the purchaser has to apply for an operating license with the New York State Department of Health.
“Before any private purchaser can operate the facilities, it needs to have state health department approval for the transfer of the county’s operating licenses, both for the [Long Term Acute Care] beds and the nursing home beds, and that process will take at least several months,” Miles said. “It could be 12 to 18 months. What we envision is in February/March, after we know who that purchaser is going to be, they would make application to the state health department for the operating license transfers.”
According to the timeline, the health department would approve the new operating license to complete the purchase somewhere between January and June 2014 and in July of that year revenues from the purchaser can be booked for the year 2013 before that year’s audit is released. Revenue sales from selling Summit Park were not included in the 2013 proposed budget.
Griffin said the LDC could help the county in a few ways. He said since the nursing home is losing money monthly, the LDC could help the legislators rid themselves of responsibility for the building and move onto other issues.
“I don’t want to rush you to make a mistake, but I also don’t want to take a month longer than we have to in this process,” he said. “Here, we have one vote, once it’s fully explained and vetted by the legislative body, the LDC board will take it from there. They have the complete right of property interest.”
Griffin added that the legislators can choose what exactly to sell.
“You draw the lines on the floors,” he said. “You have the 321 nursing home beds and the 100 acute care hospital beds, and that’s what would be sold. And then you can use easements for the rest. You don’t have to sell the whole building, and therefore you don’t have to address the leaseback for the other users in the facility, if you don’t want to.”
Wolfe asked if the LDC could sell the building space to someone who wanted to build a hotel or some other business. He added that it might make sense to at least look at those proposals to possibly maximize what the county can get in the sale.
“If the legislative body wants to maximize the sales proceeds of that box, the building, you’re certainly welcome to do that, and perhaps the LDC could look at all options, and I think the LDC board would not be doing their job if they didn’t look at all options,” Griffin said.
Still, Griffin said that while the space itself could be worth something, he thinks it’s more about what’s already inside the building that might be value.
“The use of the building is the key, and nobody can sell a license. You’ve got to put all these pieces together for a buyer to have value,” he said. “If there is a way to maximize the value, we get into a much more uncomfortable discussion about what, I think, will always be the primary premise, which is compassionate care for current patients will be continued. If we can stay on that mantra, we will not be selling those floors for offices, which would be a way to maximize the value, or something like that.”
Griffin said multiple times throughout the meeting that the intent is and will be to continue the services offered at Summit Park.
“Nobody’s losing a bed. It’s part of the transaction, and as we go through this and try to peel apart the onion, we’re going to have some discussions like this to answer legitimate questions,” he said. “But in the end, if I’ve got bed 2A, I’m still going to have bed 2A when this is all over.”