Changes in store at Horace Nye

"I really can't see bringing in outside management while we continue to pay," said Moriah supervisor Tom Scozzafava.

The third option, said Politi, would be to seek a marketing broker to assist in selling the facility to a private entity.

Privatization would remove Horace Nye and its approximately $4 million net expenses from the county budget, but some fear the home would serve far less indigent seniors as a private institution. A private facility would also lead to fewer staff with lower pay since employees at the home would no longer be a part of union negotiations with the county.

Fourth, Politi noted, county officials could conduct their own intensive study to come up with new management strategies for Horace Nye that would reduce costs.

"If we decide to go in that direction, our county manager is going to have to make specific recommendations that we can move forward with."

The fifth option, according to Politi, would be to simply close Horace Nye, which represents one of the most expensive non-mandated services currently offered in Essex County.

"I don't think any member of this board of supervisors is in favor of that option," said Scozzafava.

"I look at these five choices, and I only see three and four as options we should be looking at," said Chesterfield supervisor Gerald Morrow. Most others generally agreed.

Scozzafava and others spoke against privatization, and Jay supervisor Randy Douglas said he'd received a 900-signature petition opposing the sale or closure of Horace Nye. Still, all generally agreed putting Horace Nye on the market would better allow the county to gauge interest from private companies.

"The companies that are interested in this type of project are not looking for RFPs," said county manager Dan Palmer, referring to a request for proposal. "They're looking for a broker to bring it to them."

According to Palmer, Medicaid-funded residents, which make up nearly 97 percent of residents at Horace Nye, still represent about 70-80 percent of beds at privately-run nursing homes.

Still, with the previous RFP receiving such limited interest, even those favoring privatization recognized the need for new operational strategies.

"If you can't market the place, the fallback is we need to run this facility," Politi said.

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