Essex County lawmakers sought to create a tentative timeline Monday for the possible sale of Horace Nye Nursing Home.

The county is opening another set of bids for the 100-bed public facility in a week.

All three bidders previously bid the minimum sale price of $4 million, and the County Board of Supervisors voted Monday, retroactively, to ask those three for their best and highest bids.

Although the revised bids aren't due until 5 p.m. April 9, they've already been received. Nursing Home Task Force Chairman Roby Politi (R-North Elba) said they won't be disclosed until the opening date, however.

County Attorney Daniel Manning III said they're bound by competitive-bidding practices in state law.

"Usually, it's the lowest (bid). There's very little direction in case law and in statute as to how it should be done. It says it should be sold to the highest responsible bidder."

He said the county's broker, Marcus & Millichap, had an obligation to get the best price for Horace Nye.

"We decided because we had three bidders we should go back to them to get the highest price. We tried our best to keep this fair to the bidders."

WILL INVESTIGATE

Though the county didn't pass the final authorization for amended bids until after they'd been received, Manning said, no harm was done.

"Was it procedurally correct to do it? No. But do you want the highest and best price?" Manning said.

The three who bid are the Centers for Specialty Care of New York City; Gerald Woods CPA, of Baldwin in Nassau County; and Elliot Management Group of Monsey in Rockland County.

Board of Supervisors Chair Randy Douglas (D-Jay) said he'll soon name a county subcommittee to go visit nursing homes the bidders operate now.

"We're going to investigate. We'll send people out. We'll do background checks on all of them."

'NO CLEAR PATH'

Supervisor Margaret Bartley (D-Elizabethtown) said she's willing to visit facilities owned by the three bidders to see if they are clean and well run but needs some guidance.

"We don't seem to have a clear path we're following," she said. "That's caused confusion. This is going to go on until there's a date (to vote)."

Douglas said it's not possible to set a date for a sale vote until their research is done. It is expected to be sometime this summer, though.

"Our plan all along was that once this board passed a resolution to hire a broker, the Horace Nye Task Force will take those bids, look at those bids, and we'll appoint a committee to look at everything.

"If this body decides to go to the (change to a) private nursing home, we've done our job and our duties."

'STOP AND THINK'

The Board of Supervisors heard from sale opponent Richard Tromblee of Moriah Corners, who said he's been to nursing homes in Plattsburgh and believes Horace Nye is superior.

"Before you get rid of the Horace Nye Home and privatize it, stop and think."

Tromblee said there's a federal study that found that public nursing homes are best.

Horace Nye has a devoted staff, he said, that might be pared down by a private owner.

Supervisor Randy Preston (I-Wilmington) said the possible Horace Nye sale has become too emotional an issue.

"Nobody's going to be out on the street. The residents will still be there, and the jobs will still be there."

FIVE VOTE NAY

Voting against seeking higher bids were Thomas Scozzafava (R-Moriah), Gerald Morrow (D-Chesterfield), Sharon Boisen (I-Essex), Michael Marnell (R-Schroon) and Edward Hatch (D-Willsboro).

Supervisors Daniel Connell (D-Westport), Charles Harrington (R-Crown Point) and Sue Montgomery Corey (D-Minerva) were absent.

The Nursing Home has lost $21 million since 2001, County Manager Daniel Palmer said.

"It's only going to get worse."

The home runs a deficit of more than $2 million every year, but the county estimates it will increase to $3 million within a year or two, then $4 million.

"We all have to vote what is in the best interest for our constituents," Douglas said. "To label anybody on this board as against seniors is ludicrous."

Email Lohr McKinstry at: lmckinstry@pressrepublican.com

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