TAX PAY DEAL KEEPS NURSING HOME ALIVE

Albany County to take installments from Guilderland facility

JORDAN CARLEO-EVANGELIST
Section: Capital Region,  Page: B1

Date: Saturday, April 14, 2012

ALBANY -- Albany County has reached a repayment deal with the owner of the bankrupt Guilderland Center Nursing Home for more than $1 million in delinquent taxes that officials say will allow the facility to remain open.


The repayment plan, filed last week in federal bankruptcy court and announced Friday by Albany County Executive Dan McCoy, calls for Guilderland Realty Holdings Corp. -- owner of Route 146 facility -- to pay $1.06 million in property taxes owed as far back as 2003 in monthly installments.


The monthly installment is $18,091.13 with a balloon payment in 2015, according to the three-page order from Chief Bankruptcy Judge Robert E. Littlefield Jr. of the Northern District.


The county was Guilderland Realty Holdings Corp.'s largest creditor in 2008 when it sought Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection along with the nursing home's prior operator, Guilderland LTC Management LLC, said Frank Brennan, their bankruptcy attorney.


As part of the bankruptcy proceedings, the nursing home business was sold to a new entity, Guilderland Center Rehabilitation and Extended Care Facility Operating Company LLC, for $1.5 million, Brennan said.


But in order to stay in business as a nursing home, the new operator had to obtain a certificate of need from the state Department of Health.


The approval was granted in early February contingent on a resolution of the tax issue and became final April 4, the day after the judge's order, said Department of Health spokesman Peter Constantakes.


One of the requirements for getting a certificate to run the facility was that the nursing home operator had to show it has control of the property.


While the new operator has a long-term lease with Guilderland Realty Holdings Corp., the state also required the realty group to show that the tax issue would not threaten its stability.


McCoy hailed the resolution in a statement, saying it would keep some 127 residents at the facility rather than force them to seek a new care site.


"That would have been completely unacceptable," McCoy said of the closure threat.


The tax order comes as the county is grappling with the future of its nursing home, with the County Legislature pushing for the construction of a new $71 million facility despite persistent questions from the state about its financial viability.


McCoy, who as a member of the County Legislature supported that plan, has since said he's exploring four options -- including privatization or converting the nursing home into a public benefit corporation to insulate taxpayers from its multimillion-dollar annual losses.


His transition team went a step further, urging the closure of the county nursing home.


But one of the arguments made by opponents of the plan is that there would not be enough private nursing home capacity in the area -- especially facilities that will take low-income patients served by Medicaid -- to meet the demand.


jcarleo-evangelist@timesunion.com - 518-454-5445 - @JCEvangelist_TU