PRIVATIZATION PROPOSED FOR NURSING HOME

Albany County executive offers two options for the nursing home's future

KENNETH C. CROWE II
Section: Capital Region,  Page: B1

Date: Tuesday, March 6, 2012

ALBANY -- The Albany County Nursing Home could be privatized under two options that County Executive Dan McCoy offered for consideration Monday night.


"It's not about what I think or how I feel. It's about what's best for everyone in Albany County," McCoy said in his first State of the County address.


"We need to make some tough decisions," McCoy said.


Those decisions include privatizing the management of the facility or privatizing the entire operation, McCoy said.


Requests for proposals will go out in the next several weeks, the county executive said. The one that would privatize the nursing home operations would require recognition of the unions at the facility, McCoy said. When asked about honoring union contracts, he said that would be determined in the requests.


Two other options McCoy said the county may also consider are building a new nursing home and operating it or creating a public benefit corporation to run the nursing home.


Legislature Chairman Shawn Morse, D-Cohoes, said McCoy's proposals will have to be considered.


"I'm a strong supporter for our nursing home," Morse said.


It's important, Morse said, to provide assistance for the county's needy elderly. The County Legislature has stood by the county's continuing ownership of the nursing home in the past when McCoy was its leader before being elected county executive last year.


Finally deciding the fate of the nursing home was among a long list of struggles and opportunities that McCoy said the county must confront as it contemplates a challenging financial future.


"The reality is the county is close to running out of money. We need to borrow to keep cash flowing," McCoy said.


McCoy joined other county executives around the state in criticizing the ever-increasing costs of unfunded state mandates and the crushing burden they place on local taxpayers.


The county also must examine where it can cut costs, McCoy said. One area, the county executive said, is community college costs.


The county has been unable to get Hudson Valley Community College to reduce costs for the county, McCoy said. He raised the possibility of establishing a private-public partnership to build and operate a county community college or to seek an expanded relationship with Schenectady County Community College.


McCoy said the county government must be transformed and streamlined. Emphasis, he said, must be placed on attracting new businesses to create jobs and expand the tax base. He proposed creating an incubator in the county office building at 112 State St. to support startups.


McCoy said he will soon release his transition team's report on reforming county operations.


"Our county government is fractured in many areas and needs to be mended in the best interest of our citizens," McCoy said. "I can and will provide the leadership for Albany County to become healthy again."


kcrowe@timesunion.com - 518-454-5084 - @KennethCrowe