Dollars and cents are a central part of the debate over whether to sell the county-owned nursing and assisted living centers.

However, those involved in the argument have yet to agree on exactly what those numbers are.

Frederick County’s financial analysis predicts that taxpayers would see a net benefit of more than $12.3 million over the next four years if officials privatize Citizens Care and Rehabilitation Center and Montevue Assisted Living. Opponents of privatization have challenged this summary, saying the figures are skewed to make a $30 million sale to Aurora Health Management look more attractive.

Sale opponents also say the facilities could turn a profit if properly managed, an effort to debunk the notion that the centers are bound to keep losing money if they remain under county ownership. These optimistic projections have been challenged by county staff, who say the numbers are flawed because they are based on only one month of data.

Commissioners President Blaine Young said he is confident that the figures turned out by county staff are accurate. Young, who has supported exploring a sale, said he had nothing to do with producing the numbers.

Though some totals are in dispute, sale opponents must face the fact that the county has spent more than $53 million to subsidize Citizens and Montevue from fiscal 2000 through 2013, he added.

However, one local certified public accountant said the county’s two-page financial analysis of a sale is confusing and difficult for the public to evaluate. Donald Linton, a vocal sale opponent and ex-officio member of the Citizens board of trustees, also noted that the analysis hasn’t been audited.

“The numbers are massaged for the benefit of the interpreter,” said Linton, principal for the accounting firm Linton Shafer Warfield & Garrett.

Erin White, the county’s acting finance director, said her office’s staff was under no pressure to slant the analysis in favor of a sale.

County estimates have varied, though, depending on which factors are included in the forecast. The county’s financial analysis indicates retaining Citizens and Montevue would cost the county more than $6.6 million over the next four years. But a newspaper advertisement published by the county reported the county would be “losing over $10 million if it (the facility) is retained.”

Lori Depies, county manager, explained that unlike the financial analysis, the advertisement took into account the $3.3 million Citizens owes to the county’s general fund on top of its budgeted subsidy. This money functions like a line of credit to support ongoing operations at Citizens and is an “additional cost to the taxpayers,” she wrote in an email. It wasn’t possible to reflect this liability in the financial analysis, but it was included in the advertisement and raised the estimated four-year loss to about $10 million, she indicated.

At the same time, opponents of the sale have generated figures that are also up for debate.

Melanie Cox, who spent several decades in the health industry and worked as a nursing home officer, argues that Citizens is under-billing for Medicaid reimbursement. If Citizens began billing at the rate of comparable facilities, it could end up with a roughly $2.8 million surplus by the second year, more than enough to cover Montevue’s roughly $1.8 million shortfall, she calculated.

However, county staff took issue with Cox’s findings, which they noted were based only on financial results from the month of April.

“One month doesn’t make a trend. She took one month that was good and painted a good picture,” White said.

Commissioner Paul Smith said Cox’s analysis caught his attention and could have changed his vote on the overall sale. But after hearing the county’s perspective on the analysis, he said he believes her review contained substantial flaws.

Cox, a Frederick resident, asserts that the balance sheets prove her point. The May numbers for Citizens are even better than April’s financial indicators and show the facility with a net gain of more than $225,000, she said.

“I have a comfort level that this is the type of thing the center can do and can do consistently,” Cox said.

White acknowledged that the center might look good on paper. However, because of ongoing struggles with medical billing, the center isn’t collecting the money it is owed, a problem that actually worsened in May, she said.

Follow Bethany Rodgers on Twitter: @BethRodgersFNP.

(22) comments

mdcrab55

Money is the root of all evil and the sale is just pure evil. We are totally disregarding the stipulations of the land use. Saving 12M over a 4 year period is nothing. Maybe the County should have kept the $100 rebate mailed to homeowners last year.

As a society we are showing our true colors. Total disregard for the elderly and indigent.

What has happened to our morality.

As a homeowner, I am willing to pay more to support Citizens and Montevue.

None of us know what the future holds and someday someone in our family or ourselves might need the services that are provided.

Remember - what goes around comes around.

sej58

I would trust a CPA any day over the BOCC's logic. Personally....can't wait to see Jan kick Blaine's butt in the County Exec race!

darththevader

The CPA didn't say there was anything wrong with the numbers in the financial analysis. Glad you trust him

watson4sherlock

There's nothing misleading about the fact the County is going to spend $6 million to sell the property and budgeted only $600,000 to operate the property.

The facilities were expanded with the intent the County would operate them. While the county is operating the facilities it limits the services to residents of the County. The nursing facilities are a service to the citizens on land donated to benefit the poor. The County's population is aging and the services are needed by the resident's of the County.

valerie_dale

Here is what our seniors think and have to say:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b1SaXRu4BI4&feature=youtu.be

Impeach Blaine

Political suicide for blaing young, Billie shreeves, and Paul smith.

watson4sherlock

Coincidence? Both entities posted within minutes of each other.

darththevader posted at 12:30 pm on Tue, Jun 25, 2013.

So you have CPA that is opposed to the the sale say the financial analysis is difficult for the public to understand. He's a CPA and should be able to understand it but doesn't refute the numbers

darththevader

So you have CPA that is opposed to the the sale say the financial analysis is difficult for the public to understand. He's a CPA and should be able to understand it but doesn't refute the numbers

watson4sherlock

This is what the CPA said. Misrepresenting the facts is futile.

However, one local certified public accountant said the county’s two-page financial analysis of a sale is confusing and difficult for the public to evaluate. Donald Linton, a vocal sale opponent and ex-officio member of the Citizens board of trustees, also noted that the analysis hasn’t been audited.

The numbers are massaged for the benefit of the interpreter,” said Linton, principal for the accounting firm Linton Shafer Warfield & Garrett.

darththevader

That's hardly specific about what's wrong with the numbers. Using one month of data and orojecting it over years is what massaging is.

watson4sherlock

Except if the month chosen happened to be a month when the facility was transitioning between buildings, that would misrepresent the future potential wouldn't it?

gnfan231

Pretty scary the price tag some would place on the care of our seniors. Great example for our kids too. It's ashame there is no profit in getting old.

richardlyons

WTE, Citizens Nursing Home, etc. when it comes to someting Blaine and this BOCC support, they always get the numbers that support their case. Surely an independent agent could validate their numbers or determine that the numbers have been cooked.

darththevader

WTE was the prior board. Complain about Jan

richardlyons

Do your homework Darth.

watson4sherlock

Jan expanded the nursing facilities with the intent of continuing to operate them and the current commissioners are selling it. Pretending the commissioners have no choice isn't going to get you anywhere. If it's true the current commissioners have no choice then they shouldn't be able to sell the nursing facilities either.

dbjanda1

Can the sale include that Blaine go with it or would Aurora cancel their bid ???...Just askin'...Me

watson4sherlock

Aurora would charge us to take him. How much would it be worth?

cellmark

This whole project was designed to lose money to offset other expenses. It was set up to lose 4.12 per person per day back in the Blue Ribon study days..
The other things that changed make this no longer viable. SO, it should be changed and can be changed.
The Government is to be held to a high standard, That is the American way. The Citizens/Montevue has always been in the top of the state for service. That has kept the other places in check and helped all those less fortunates.
ALL these low level persons who claim it is horrible, I dare you to go elsewhere. How about going to the place on Rte 40 that was hiding the smells of feces and urine by giving away Popcorn at the door, ] Popcorn covers the smell of Urine. I bet the local yahoos did not figure that one out]

armillary

With government Blaine's disenchanted
and his views about welfare are slanted
he's given the order
come hell or high water
using numbers we're sure that he planted.

magnumrn2

We are trying to save an institution for the elderly indigent that has long been a Frederick tradition. A highly moral one, I might add. Why do you make the assumption that the only people who support this are Democrats? I happen to know a number of Republicans who oppose the sale, as well. Don't always fall back on your standard "loser dems" expression. Why do you support the sale ~ make a statement that is coherent and thoughtful and not just nasty! It gets very tiresome and people are inclined to ignore you...........Jean

magnumrn2

Facts appear to mean nothing to this BOCC, it is all about checking items off their anti-government agenda and moving on to the next bad idea. Remember when they wanted to bring in the consultant from Georgia whose job was to help privatize government services and it turned out the guy was a poor choice? Now, the BOCC are repeating the same mistake with Aurora. This BOCC is reckless with our county services and don't seem to give a rat's patooty what the citizens think. Last I checked, we were still a representational democracy and the elected officials jobs were to reflect the will of the people. Since over 67% do not support the sale of the nursing home, why is the BOCC so determined to push this through? Methinks something is rotten in the "state" of Frederick! Jean

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