The Rockland County Legislature voted to pass a resolution at Tuesday’s meeting to ask for home rule legislation, allowing the county to set up a public benefit corporation (PBC).
“We’re asking them to give us permission to have the option, if we choose to pursue it, to create a public-benefit corporation, and I can assure you no decision on that has been made,” said Legislator Ilan Schoenberger.
The PBC, which would be named the Rockland Health Care Corporation, would take over the ownership and operation of Summit Park Hospital, the county's nursing home in Pomona so that it would no longer be part of the county government.
Schoenberger said that back in October 2010, the county executive included in the budget a revenue of $17.8 million for the creation of a public benefit corporation, which never materialized. As they continued into 2011 without the $17.8 million, the county executive asked them to issue a deficiency bond to plug up the hole in the 2011 budget, according to Schoenberger. He added the bond was a one-year bond that is to be paid off this week.
“As the same time, in 2011 we requested an option from the state of New York to allow us to create what they call a PBC, a public-benefit corporation,” Schoenberger said. “In the home rule request it’s referred to as the Rockland Healthcare Corporation. The state refused to entertain that request in 2011, saying they didn’t have enough information about it and we, the legislature, also didn’t have enough information about it.”
Since then, the county hired three consultants to look into the different options for Summit Park, and give the legislature information about their possibilities. They’ve met with consultants multiple times and have been told the PBC is one of their better options.
Legislator Joseph Meyers voted in favor of Tuesday’s legislation, but noted he’s against forming a PBC.
“It’s a very good thing to have this so that we can consider all of the different options. As we discussed in our Committee of the Whole right before this meeting started, I think we need to do a request for bids, I think we need to do an evaluation study of the nursing home and longterm care facility,” he said. “That way we’ll have all the information at our disposal, and if it turns out that Albany will not give us a Public Benefit Corporation, now is the time to know that so that we know that that option is not available to us. I hope that they will give us that option so that we can make the determination as to what is in our best interests.”
The vote Tuesday night passed 16-1, with Legislator Frank Sparaco the only person voting against it.
“I think we’re all pretty much in agreement that it’s a failed plan, a failed policy. Why would we even keep it as an option? The most regretful vote I ever made in this legislature was when I supported the $18 million anticipation note on the Public Benefit Corporation even though I originally voted against it,” he said. “It’s just misinformation after misinformation and everybody you speak to says it’s a bad idea. Why give ourselves an option to go down the wrong path? What’s the point? Why make it an option?”