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What you need to know for 04/26/2017

Spa County unloads Maplewood money pit

Spa County unloads Maplewood money pit

Operating losses were eating up surpluses, causing tax hikes

It remains to be seen how well Zenith Care Health Group follows through on its commitment to quality at Saratoga County’s Maplewood Manor nursing home, which it just agreed to buy for $14.1 million. But first impressions indicate the county has chosen a worthy operator, who will not only continue caring for all of the facility’s current residents and give existing employees first crack at jobs, but invest in the facility with an eye toward improving its services.

This won’t happen for six to 18 months, while the state reviews Zenith’s license application. But given its track record elsewhere in the state, it’s hard to imagine that there will be a problem.

The county-appointed local development corporation that chose Zenith appears to have done its due diligence, making the choice not solely on the basis of money. (Zenith actually underbid the high bidder by some $470,000, but it was a good $3 million above the lowest. Moreover, its commitment to invest an additional $2.5 million in capital improvements during its first 18 months of operation, aimed at offering increased services, is significant.)

The privatized home will also be contributing to the county’s tax base — an estimated $460,000 annually — but best of all, it will mean that taxpayers won’t get stuck with $8 million to $10 million a year in operating subsidies. Maplewood Manor had been bleeding them for years, chipping away at the county’s longtime surplus, even requiring tax increases for the past few budgets.

There was no shortage of bidders for the nursing home, indicating there is strong demand for public facilities among private operators. Something for officials with money-losing operations in Schenectady and Albany counties to keep in mind.

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