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Broome County Legislature approves contentious Willow Point contract

BINGHAMTON, NY (WSKG) — After a month of debate, the Broome County Legislature voted to pass a contentious consulting contract between Willow Point Nursing Home and a private company.

The company, Centers for Care, is the largest nursing home provider in New York. It will provide staffing and financial support to the nursing home for $3.3 million over four years. But the company can now also buy the facility for $7 million, should the county decide to sell in the six years.

Several legislators objected to the fact that the consulting job never involved a request for proposal (RFP). They argued contracts over $15,000 are always put up for bid under county procedure.

“There's a right way and a wrong way to exit from the nursing home business, the county executive chose the wrong way. He didn't do it in a public manner. There was no RFP, there was no open and transparent process,” Legislator Mark Whalen said.

Other legislators emphasized that this contract does not obligate the county to sell Willow Point. They argued hiring a consulting firm will help the facility get back on its feet after a period of financial turmoil and staffing shortages.

“If you want to increase care, hire more people, fill more beds, and increase the reimbursement rate for services, you need an experienced, knowledgeable team,” Legislator Kim Myers said.

Most legislators agreed that contracting consulting services was a good idea, but several argued that they found the sales clause concerning.

“There is no transparency here, with this contract. And if this is not a sale, why have that part of first refusal even in there?” Legislator Cindy O’Brien said.

Five of the legislators moved to have the sales clause removed from the contract, but were voted down. The Legislature voted for the contract, 10-5.