Sullivan legislature votes to transfer care center

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MONTICELLO – By an eight to one vote, the Sullivan County Legislature, Thursday, voted to transfer the Care Center at Sunset Lake to the new Sunset Lake Local Development Corporation as the first step toward leasing the 146-bed nursing home.

The legislature first wanted to privatize the long-term care and short-term rehabilitation facility, but as a compromise because of a large public outcry, lawmakers agreed to lease the facility to a private operator while retaining county control and oversight. No operator has been selected at this point.

Legislator Luis Alvarez cast the sole no vote.

“We are not closing or selling the facility, and in the process we will maintain the valuable services provided in Liberty, keep the employees who have worked so very hard over the past few months, avoid further burdening our taxpayers with a tax increase, and steer clear of more layoffs and program cuts,” said Legislature Chairman Robert Doherty.

The non-profit Sunset Lake LDC will be created to handle the lease of the nursing home, which will be overseen by five members of the community. They will be tasked with identifying and recommending a suitable company to manager the care center.

“Under state law, an LDC has broader abilities than the county to initiate a lease that is in the best interests of our taxpayers and the care center,” said County Manager Josh Potosek. “Workers will remain county employees during the lease, and the facility and property will stay county-owned. In order to ensure local residents in need will have priority access to the care center, the Sullivan County Certified Home Health Agency will also be transferred to the third-party operator.”

As a result of the vote, Doherty said discussion to layoff 20 county positions is off the table.