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ONLY ONE BID, OF $2 MILLION, SUBMITTED FOR MOUNT VIEW

Determining the future of Mount View Health Facility became more difficult Thursday when only one potential purchaser responded to Niagara County's request for proposals.

The sole bid of $2 million was submitted by Senior Associates of Amherst, a limited liability company owned by Marc I. Korn and Jeffrey D. Lapides. Senior Associates owns Fairchild Manor Nursing Home in Lewiston and Batavia Nursing Home in Genesee County.

County Manager Gregory D. Lewis expressed disappointment at the lack of response to the county's request for bids but said he was happy Senior Associates took the opportunity to submit an offer. Senior County Buyer Stella Fulcher said 13 requests for proposals had been sent out.

Lewis said he would have preferred to have more than one bid to compare. Now, he said, comparisons will have to be made with sales of other nursing homes in the state.

That probably will include Senior Associates' purchase of the Batavia home in 2000 and Fairchild in 2001.

"We're going to review it very carefully," Lewis said of the proposal. "I would like to make a report to the County Community Services Committee of the Legislature on the second Tuesday of November. At that time, we'll propose the next steps."

One of those next steps could be meeting with Korn and Lapides. Fulcher said the county has the right to reject the bid.

Patricia W. O'Connor, administrator of Mount View, said the county real property tax office had valued the Upper Mountain Road property at nearly $7.2 million last year. Freed Maxick, a public accounting firm, estimates the business value at $13,000 a bed, based on an evaluation of the age of the building, its financial status and the going rate of such facilities in Western New York, O'Connor said. That would set the commercial value of the 172-bed facility at $2.23 million.

Edward McDonald, president of Local 182, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, one of two unions that represent Mount View workers, said Senior Associates "wants $2 million worth of beds and $7 million worth of property for $2 million. This would be a really good deal" for the company.

McDonald opposes a sale of the facility, saying Mount View is a "safety net for county senior citizens who don't have any resources." He said about 90 percent of Mount View's residents are on Medicaid.

"I'm surprised they got any bids at all," he said. "Private industry just can't make money taking care of around 90 percent Medicaid patients."

O'Connor blamed Mount View's financial condition for the lack of interest. The facility lost nearly $1.4 million last year, up from $801,856 in 2002.

"We didn't get a lot of activity. Other counties we talked to had a lot of activity," she said, referring to inquiries and inspections of properties.

Beyond the purchase price and the intention to continue operating Mount View as a nursing home, Senior Associates' proposal offered little detail. County officials said that was acceptable under the request for proposals, which was deliberately broad.

The request for proposals did state, "Favorable consideration will be given to proposals that positively address the re-employment of the facility's current staff deemed to meet (the buyer's) qualifications."

"My understanding from Greg Lewis was our bid was to go on record as an interested party so we can pursue the Mount View health facility," Korn said. "The application is silent on employment, and we're waiting for further discussions with Mr. Lewis to determine how everyone's goals can be accomplished. We are good corporate citizens in Niagara County and wish to continue that status now and in the future."

The request for proposals also indicates the county's intention to sell to a buyer who would not force the relocation of current residents and accept poor and uninsured patients.

That is consistent with state Health Department requirements for Medicaid and poor patients, Korn said, adding, "And we will continue that policy."

e-mail: jscelsa@buffnews.com

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