Category Archives: Asset.Sale/Lease

Stephenson County Board postpones decision on nursing home referendum

Source: Jane Lethlean, The Journal Standard, October 12, 2017

The Stephenson County Board postponed a vote today to place an advisory referendum on the November 2018 ballot to gauge public opinion about selling the county nursing home. Dan Neal, chairman of the County Board Nursing Home Committee, said there has been strong sentiment by some board members to sell the Stephenson County Nursing Center to a private company. … Ed Sadlowski of Janesville, Wisconsin, spoke on behalf of American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees Council 31. “This sends the wrong message to the community, and you need to lead,” Sadlowski told the board. “Once you hand the nursing center over to the private sector, it will end up costing residents more.” …

County board to get first look at proposal for sale of nursing home

Source: Tom Kacich, News-Gazette, October 10, 2017
 
Champaign County Board members will get their first review tonight of the proposal for the sale of the county-owned nursing home.  The agenda for the board’s committee-of-the-whole meeting includes an item calling for the release of a request for proposals for a privately owned firm to buy the 12-year-old facility in east Urbana. If the board approves the RFP this month, the sale of the home could be completed this winter. … The proposed request for proposals for the sale of the facility carries a number of stipulations: … That the purchaser assume the existing collective bargaining agreements at the home with the AFSCME employee union. …

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Patient advocates back county ownership of nursing home
Source: Debra Pressey, The News-Gazette, March 29, 2017

Selling the Champaign County Nursing Home could lead to staff reductions, poorer care and service cuts, a group of advocates for medical patients and retirees contended. Gathering less than a week before voters will be asked to weigh in on two public policy questions — whether they support selling or disposing of the financially ailing nursing home or a tax increase to help keep it going — the Illinois Alliance for Retired Americans, Champaign County CARE, Champaign County Health Care Consumers and others Wednesday urged voters to get behind the option that will keep the nursing home in the county’s hands. Research from Center for Medicare Advocacy, Kaiser Family Foundation and others have demonstrated that nursing home ownership matters when it comes to patient care and staffing levels, said Champaign County Health Care Consumers executive director Claudia Lennhoff. … “For-profit facilities, particularly those owned by multistate chains, are more likely to reduce spending on care for residents and to divert spending to profits and corporate overhead,” the Medicare center said in a report. … A 2011 analysis of the 10 largest for-profit nursing home chains found they had the lowest staffing levels and highest levels of deficiencies between 2003 and 2008, Lennhoff said. She also said a new owner — especially a larger and/or for-profit one — who would fill more beds at the nursing home, even increasing the Medicaid census in the process, could be a “recipe for disaster.”

… Lennhoff said Champaign County doesn’t have to look any farther than neighboring Vermilion County to see what can happen when a county disposes of its nursing home. After the county sold its Vermilion Manor Nursing Home to FNR Healthcare Group in 2013, the county was caught by surprise when 39 employees were cut by the new owner, she said. Now called Gardenview Manor, the Danville nursing home was hit by the Illinois Department of Public Health in January for two “type A” violations, which mean “a substantial probability that death or serious mental or physical harm will result or has resulted” in the past three months.

Massena Memorial Hospital privatization process stalled until transfer agreement settled

Source: Andy Gardner, North Country Now, September 28, 2017
 
The Massena Memorial Hospital privatization process is at a standstill until the hospital and town can come to terms on an asset transfer agreement, the MMH CEO told the Board of Managers on Monday.  “We are still talking to the town and we hope to have a town proposal that we can discuss in the very near future,” MMH CEO Robert Wolleben told the board, adding that the proposal needs to “model the financial impact” privatization would have on the hospital.  “Everything is teed up and hopefully we can move pretty quickly,” he said. Talks with two larger health networks they may affiliate with can’t move until that part is done. …

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Massena town, hospital make non-disclosure deal, supervisor says brings asset transfer a step closer 
Source: Andy Gardner, North Country Now, August 31, 2017

Following a closed-door session on Wednesday, the Massena Town Council ratified a non-disclosure agreement that the town supervisor brings them a bit closer to a Massena Memorial Hospital asset transfer deal.  “The board authorized me to sign a non-disclosure agreement that basically says we’re not going to disclose the information we’re negotiating … details of the transfer. The hospital’s attorney and our attorney worked back and forth over the last few weeks to finalize the terms of our agreement,” Town Supervisor Joe Gray said.  MMH is in the process of becoming a private, non-profit entity. The Town of Massena now owns them.  Part of the transition process is negotiating how the town will be compensated for losing the MMH asset. …

Massena Memorial Hospital CEO says they will ask workers comp carrier to help them reduce number of incidents leading to claims
Source: Andy Gardner, North Country Now, July 25, 2017

Massena Memorial Hospital’s CEO says he will call on their workers compensation carrier to help them reduce workplace incidents leading to claims, after the county announced plans to move to a risk-based funding system for the insurance plan. “We are going to be asking for the workers compensation carrier to help us reduce our incidents. If we’re going to pay a premium we’re going to get service, not somebody who processes claims and says ‘you’re doing a bad job,’” MMH CEO Robert Wolleben said at the Monday Board of Managers meeting. County legislators recently voted to modify the Workers’ Compensation insurance contribution formula to a risk-and-use-based system, resulting in massive savings for many municipalities, but a 267 percent increase for the Town of Massena.

Massena Memorial CEO won’t give regular privatization updates to town board as transfer negotiations continue
Source: Andy Gardner, North Country Now, July 20, 2017
 
The Massena Memorial Hospital CEO will no longer give regular updates on the hospital’s privatization process at monthly Town Council meetings.  The town board and the MMH board are negotiating an asset transfer deal to determine how the town will be compensated for its asset once MMH privatizes. … In addition to the asset transfer, the hospital is waiting for their 501c3 application from the IRS, and trying to pick an affiliate.  Wolleben earlier this year at a town board meeting said he hoped at the MMH meeting the following week, but it didn’t happen. That was in February. The only updates he has given in public is they are looking at two potential affiliates, one in eastern New York and one in the western part of the state.  Gray implied that MMH officials may have whittled that number down to one. …

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Secrecy surrounds efforts to rebuild Kansas’ largest prison

Source: Jonathan Shorman and Hunter Woodall, Kansas City Star, September 27, 2017
 
A high level of secrecy surrounds an effort to rebuild Kansas’s oldest and largest prison. The Kansas Department of Corrections received bids from three companies in the past week to build a new prison at Lansing, Corrections Secretary Joe Norwood told lawmakers on Wednesday. The construction project could ultimately cost Kansas upwards of $200 million. But few details about the bids – including names of bidders and a final cost estimate – have been released publicly. … “Most prison projects, we have a bid opening where all the numbers are all read out loud – a public bid opening,” said Mike Gaito, the agency’s director of capital improvements. “This is a negotiated procurement so it does not happen.” In a negotiated procurement, the government negotiates with the bidders after they submit bids. The winning bid is not always based on the lowest price. … “We’re very concerned about the lack of transparency the Kansas Department of Corrections is exhibiting with not sharing with the public about who the bidders are and the cost estimate,” said Robert Choromanski, director of the Kansas Organization of State Employees. …

…. KDOC would not identify Wednesday the companies that bid on the project, or details of their bids. The Kansas Department of Administration has previously named three companies who expressed interest: Tennessee-based Core Civic, Florida-based GEO Group and Lansing Correctional Partners. … The financial stakes for both Kansas and the companies pursuing the contract are high. State auditors have said using bonds for the project could ultimately cost the state $178 million, while a lease-purchase agreement would cost up to $206 million. The agency has not decided which path it wants to use. …

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Plan would cut Kansas prison’s staffing more than 40 percent
Source: John Hanna, Associated Press, February 8, 2017

Kansas would cut staffing at its largest prison by more than 40 percent under a plan for replacing it by leasing a modern lockup built by a private company, the state’s top corrections official told legislators Wednesday.  Corrections Secretary Joe Norwood said the new prison in Lansing, built where part of the existing one now stands, would require fewer officers to watch inmates, would be safer and would operate more efficiently. … On Wednesday, several prominent Democratic legislators questioned whether Republican Gov. Sam Brownback’s administration is moving too quickly. They also suggested that the lease-purchase proposal would be a step toward privatizing the prison system. … Rebecca Proctor, executive director of the largest union for state employees, questioned that assessment, saying staffing is based on the number of inmates.  “I just find it incredibly concerning,” she said of the proposal and the department’s projections for a smaller staff. …

Possible sale of Berks County’s nursing home raises questions of quality

Source: Nicole C. Brambila and Karen Shuey, Reading Eagle, September 24, 2017
 
While the financial future of county-owned nursing homes might be uncertain, decades of research is fairly clear: a public sale likely means the number of health violations will go up as the quality of resident care goes down. Observed by researchers for roughly two decades, the phenomenon is often the result of the new for-profit owners cutting costs by reducing staff and slashing employee benefits. … These questions loom large as Berks County commissioners are mulling over whether to sell Berks Heim Nursing and Rehabilitation in Bern Township. No decision has been made but the county-owned nursing home faces a projected $3 million deficit. Citing questions of quality and safety, Berks Heim staff and some residents are speaking out against a sale.

… Berks County’s commissioners considered selling Berks Heim two decades ago but opted against it. But then, a public sale in the late 1990s would have been a first in the region. … research also shows that a sale becomes more likely when surrounding counties have divested. Among Berks County’s six contiguous counties, four counties – Lancaster, Lebanon, Montgomery and Schuylkill – have all sold county-owned nursing homes since 2005. Only officials in two – Chester and Lehigh counties – have held onto their county-owned facilities. … Talk of a potential sale has been met with sharp opposition from residents and staff. … Divesting a county-owned home then will likely disproportionately impact the poor. … And Harrington, a nationally respected expert on nursing home care, has repeatedly found that for-profit facilities receive more deficiencies than nonprofit or government-owned nursing homes. Comparing the 10 largest chains in the U.S. to government-owned facilities, Harrington found in a 2012 study that serious deficiencies in chains were 41 percent higher. A significant reason for the care discrepancy is staffing levels, typically reduced under new ownership to control costs. …

Ex Wayne Co. CFO’s ties to developers warrant probe, commissioners say

Source: Ross Jones, WXYZ, August 11, 2017

The sale of a Wayne County building to developers with ties to the county’s former CFO has prompted calls for an investigation by Wayne County’s prosecutor.  County Executive Warren Evans insists the CFO, Tony Saunders, played no role in the sale that and no rules were broken. … Also this week, Denis Martin, the president of AFSCME Local 1862, sent a letter to Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy, asking that her office of Fraud and Corruption Investigation Unit dig into the deal.  While the deal was being vetted by the county commission, analysts noted several red flags even before they were aware of Saunders’ connection to the buyers. …

Report: Gov. Henry McMaster considering Santee Cooper sale to help pay for nuclear project

Source: David Wren, The Post and Courier, August 8, 2017

Gov. Henry McMaster is reportedly considering selling state-owned electric utility Santee Cooper as a way to pay for at least one of two nuclear reactors at the V.C. Summer Nuclear Station near Jenkinsville. The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that McMaster is “pursuing several options” to raise the money needed to finish the project, which Santee Cooper and South Carolina Electric & Gas abandoned last week in the face of rising costs and the bankruptcy of lead contractor Westinghouse Electric. …

Congress must continue to block Trump plan to sell BPA

Source: Union-Bulletin Editorial Board, August 8, 2017

Late last month the U.S. House Budget Committee approved a budget resolution that rejects privatizing the transmission assets of the Bonneville Power Administration proposed by the Trump administration. A great move. The sooner this lousy proposal is dead the better it will be for Pacific Northwest residents who pay power bills — pretty much all of us. … President Donald Trump is calling for turning over the transmission network of power lines and substations owned by the Bonneville Power Administration, a federal agency that distributes most of hydropower from the Columbia and Snake rivers’ dams, to private companies. As Trump sees it, this would lower costs to taxpayers and improve efficiency. But in reality it would result in far higher rates for consumers. And putting the high-voltage grid in the hands of private investors — perhaps foreign investors — would create national security concerns. …

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Down the Mighty Columbia River, Where a Power Struggle Looms
Source: Kirk Johnson, New York Times, July 28, 2017

To ride down the Columbia River as the John Day Dam’s wall of concrete slowly fills the view from a tugboat is to see what the country’s largest network of energy-producing dams created through five decades of 20th-century ambition, investment and hubris. … Now, the Trump administration has proposed rethinking the entire system, with a plan to sell the transmission network of wires and substations owned by the Bonneville Power Administration, a federal agency that distributes most of the Columbia basin’s output, to private buyers. The idea is part of a package of proposals that would transform much of the infrastructure in the United States to a mixture of public and private partnerships, lowering costs to taxpayers and improving efficiency, administration officials said. Assets of two other big public power operators, based in Colorado and Oklahoma, would be sold, too, if Congress approves the measure.

Debates about government and its role in land and environmental policy are always highly charged. But perhaps nowhere could the proposed changes have a more significant impact than along the great river of the West — fourth largest by volume in North America, more than 10 times that of the Hudson. Privatization would transform a government service that requires equal standards across a vast territory — from large cities to tiny hamlets — into a private operation seeking maximum returns to investors. …

The Untapped Wealth of American Cities

Source: Bruce Katz and Jeremy Nowak, CityLab, August 6, 2017
 
Americans who travel abroad sometimes wonder why many of our airports are lacking in comparison to the best international airports. Or they want to know why other nations seem to do a better job with public transportation and the management of other public assets, from ports to parks. The answers we are tempted to give are that we do not invest as heavily in public infrastructure as many other nations and that a market-oriented American ethos with an entrepreneurial culture prefers private solutions (cars versus trains) to public ones. … But there’s another answer: Compared to many other nations, in the United States government has more direct control of public assets such as airports, convention centers, and transport, water and sewer systems (just to name a few). And the government does not, for the most part, manage them well, failing to leverage the market potential and value of the assets they own. Far from being broke, many cities and counties have enormous untapped wealth, which could be used to finance not only infrastructure but investments in children and other critical needs. …

There is a better way, teased out in detail and with great authority in The Public Wealth of Cities, a new book co-authored by Dag Detter and Stefan Folster, two Swedish experts in public finance. The pair have studied public asset management and are promoting a third alternative to political management or full privatization—public ownership that relies on professional, private-sector management.… The authors’ core argument is a disruptive idea in public policy that links management systems, public asset value, intelligent financing, and the proper role of politicians in a democracy. …

Towns sell their public water systems — and come to regret it

Source: Elizabeth Douglass, The Washington Post, July 8, 2017

Neglected water infrastructure is a national plague. By one estimate, U.S. water systems need to invest $1 trillion over the next 20 years. Meanwhile, federal funding for water infrastructure has fallen 74 percent in real terms since 1977, and low-interest government loans have not filled the gap. … The prospect of offloading these headaches to for-profit water companies — and fattening city budgets in the process — is enticing to elected officials who worry that rate hikes could cost them their jobs. Once a system has been sold, private operators, not public officials, take the blame for higher rates. But privatization will not magically relieve Americans of the financial burden of upgrading their water infrastructure. … One of the biggest inducements for water deals is the “fair market value” legislation that has been passed in six states — Indiana, California, Illinois, Missouri, New Jersey and Pennsylvania — and is being considered by others.  …

… Even as more cities consider selling their water infrastructure, others are trying to wrest control of their systems back from private operators, usually because of complaints about poor service or rate hikes. Since private owners are rarely willing to surrender these lucrative investments, cities usually end up pursuing eminent domain in court. That means proving that city ownership is in the public’s interest and then paying a price determined by the court. Those prices can be exorbitant. …