Real Estate 20 Under 40

Editorial: Warren County does not need consultant to determine future of Westmount nursing home

2012-11-13T20:03:00Z 2012-11-14T17:20:31Z Editorial: Warren County does not need consultant to determine future of Westmount nursing home Glens Falls Post-Star
November 13, 2012 8:03 pm

Warren County would like to get out from under losses piling up at Westmount nursing home, by selling it or leasing it to a private operator or through some other method.

To help them figure out what to do, they’re talking about hiring a consultant. The consultant, according to county Administrator Paul Dusek, would charge up to $100,000.

Why don’t board members research the market for publicly owned nursing homes themselves? Why don’t they assign an official already on the public payroll — someone like Dusek — to develop contacts and come up with a plan?

Warren County is following a path already trod by several of its neighbors. If Warren County supervisors are nervous about their ability to market the nursing home on their own initiative, they can follow the directions laid out by consultants for other political leaders in other counties, who were equally lacking in confidence.

A couple of years ago, Washington County paid the Center for Governmental Research almost $70,000 for a two-phase study, including the history and the potential for sale, of its health care services.

Saratoga County recently paid Webb and Harris Beach $50,000 for a study on privatizing Maplewood Manor nursing home.

Every nursing home has its own individual circumstances, but Warren County could assign someone to read the studies done for other counties and decide which strategies would help with Westmount. It will take work, but not $100,000 worth.

We’ve read some of these governmental studies. They usually start with the history of an institution and basic market research of the type a college student with access to a computer could compile. Then they move into a more specific discussion of a facility’s conditions and what they mean for its value on the market.

None of the information in these reports is proprietary. Proficiency with Internet search engines and the ability to press the print button is all that is needed to get most of it. The rest can be obtained by anyone who can use a telephone.

One reason politicians agree to pay overblown fees for such studies is investing, say, $100,000 in a study on the sale of a county nursing home gives them a justification for going ahead with a sale. Once they’ve paid for the study, they can say they don’t want to lose their $100,000 investment.

In Warren County’s case, spending money on a study now seems ill-timed, even if it were worth the price, because the county is already talking with a potential buyer.

Adirondack Tri-County Nursing & Rehabilitation Center Inc. of Johnsburg has expressed an interest in buying Westmount. You would think Warren County political leaders would prefer talking with a potential buyer to paying a consultant to find potential buyers.

We don’t know what Tri-County would be willing to pay for Westmount, but we do know Warren County is losing money there. Its annual loss is projected to be $2.5 million by 2015.

The county should try to get the best price possible, but when one facility is inflicting that much financial pain, getting rid of it seems to be the top priority.

Why spend time waiting on a study when you have someone knocking on your door to buy the place?

The first thing Warren County should do is explore a sale to Adirondack Tri-County. At the same time, supervisors should set up a subcommittee to study the sale of the nursing home, and if they need help, they can ask it of Mr. Dusek.

Any sale accomplished in-house will save the $100,000 consultant’s fee. Any sale accomplished without the delays necessitated by hiring a consultant will save the county even more money, because of the thousands of dollars a month it is losing at the nursing home.

We elect supervisors to lead the county through difficult decisions, and we pay county employees to handle the work those decisions require. We’d like to see all of them do their jobs.

Local editorials represent the opinion of The Post-Star editorial board, which consists of Publisher Rick Emanuel, Editor Ken Tingley, Projects Editor Will Doolittle and citizen representative Mark Bergman.

Copyright 2015 Glens Falls Post-Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(4) Comments

  1. DWC121
    Report Abuse
    DWC121 - November 14, 2012 1:41 pm
    I agree with this editorial. Unfortunately, the Lawyers working for Warren County will probably say Warren County can not do what the Post-Star suggests. If the idea from the editors is used, the County Lawyers are afraid a Lawsuit could be filed by the editors IF the editors are not paid for their money saving idea. The lawsuit reasoning may sound weird, but it happens often. If someone makes a suggestion to a manufacturer or restaurant for a new or improved item, the company will NOT use your suggestion (Suggestions that are used MUST come from within the corporation). When a suggestion is used by a corporation, people have sued corporations because they were not paid for their idea.

    I also think the County Supervisors believe they know everything and consequently they rarely use suggestions from the common folk. And yes, the Supervisors will probably get a political kick-back from the consultants. If political kick-back is too harsh, let me sugar coat it and say "donation".
  2. ganondagon
    Report Abuse
    ganondagon - November 14, 2012 10:58 am
    Paul Dusek should have advised the board what you are suggesting, but he is
    a puppet and does what ever it takes to keep his job.
  3. theMaven
    Report Abuse
    theMaven - November 14, 2012 6:55 am
    You are missing two things.
    First, the kickbacks that are associated with these consultations, most of these groups are 100% politically connected, they are a favorite vehicle for back door payoffs, always have been, look at some of the recent trials in Albany.
    Second, the perceived possibility that not one supervisor thinks that they are bright enough to figure out a straightforward asset sale. While this would help explain some of the horrid government that comes from their board, it is quite alarming, as they are the ones who end up approving any sale. Sort of a Catch 22, they admit they are not smart enough to figure any of this out, but they are the ones who must decide.
    I honestly believe kickbacks will rule the day.
    I dunno, if we are getting mooks like Petraus and Allen at the highest levels, maybe we should just give up down here?
  4. Dave
    Report Abuse
    Dave - November 14, 2012 6:03 am
    RIGHT ON POST STAR!!! NOW LETS SEE IF THE COUNTY HAS THE GOOD SENSE TO HEED YOUR WORDS OF WISDOM.

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