County Commissioners President Blaine Young has tried inviting state officials to take back the roughly $200,000 they invested in Frederick County’s nursing and assisted living centers.
He has tried urging them to accept it. He has even tried hand-delivering the check to Annapolis. And after having his offer repeatedly turned down, he says the next step is to drop the check in the mail.
Repaying the state grant money will let Maryland leaders wash their hands of the sale of Citizens Care and Rehabilitation Center and Montevue Assisted Living and allow the county to move forward toward settlement, Young believes.
But whether the Maryland Board of Public Works will agree is unclear.
The proposed sale originally came before the public works board because state money is tied up in the facilities. However, because of pending litigation, the state panel last week unanimously voted to postpone its decision on whether to approve the sale.
Though Young has said the county will move forward toward settlement even without state permission, Comptroller Peter Franchot, who sits on the public works board, has indicated he would advise against it.
“The Comptroller believes that proceeding with the sale of the Citizens Care and Montevue facilities while they remain the subject of active litigation would be premature and carry considerable risk,” Andrew Friedson, the comptroller’s spokesman, said in a statement. “It would be far more prudent to allow the legal process to run its course, and therefore, he would encourage the Frederick County Board of Commissioners to wait until taking further action as the Board of Public Works did last week.”
Gov. Martin O’Malley and Treasurer Nancy Kopp serve with Franchot on the public works board.
But Young believes that if the county returns the $191,000 the state put toward building the new Citizens and Montevue facility, local officials won’t have to wait for the Board of Public Works to weigh in.
“The only thing that I can think that they could do is take us to court for sending them a check that they didn’t want to cash,” Young said Monday.
Young said that local commissioners agreed to return the state money as part of the sale plan they approved June 25. However, he said commissioners might still vote on the correspondence that will accompany the check. Young said he hopes to close on the $30 million sale of Citizens and Montevue by December.
Commissioner David Gray, the only county board member to oppose privatizing the two centers, said he doesn’t think the county will be able to get around the public works board, even by repaying the state’s grant money.
A staff member on the Board of Public Works declined to comment on whether returning the money would make a difference.
“The state would consider whatever Mr. Young did, and after review, would take appropriate action,” said Sheila McDonald, executive secretary of the board.
Follow Bethany Rodgers on Twitter: @BethRodgersFNP.