Subdivision of Citizens, Montevue land stands

This aerial photo taken earlier this month shows Odyssey Assisted Living at Montevue at the left and Citizens Care and Rehabilitation Center of Frederick at the right. At the bottom is Rosemont Ave. 

The dusty storehouses of Winchester Hall are seeing sunlight as part of a search to determine whether a particular financial analysis is mythical or simply missing.

The study in question could have shown that Frederick County's nursing home and assisted living centers would rely less on taxpayer dollars once they move into a bigger building. It might have projected that the new, state-of-the-art facility would attract more residents and result in fewer empty beds. It could have forecast how much additional revenue would come from opening a ventilator unit after the centers relocate.

But up to this point, the report's contents are a mystery because no one has been able to find it.

Many have argued that Citizens Care and Rehabilitation Center and Montevue Assisted Living could rise out of their deep operating deficits now that they have moved into a new building. Commissioners President Blaine Young says he'd like to know where these claims are coming from. But he said county staff can find no record that officials ordered an independent financial analysis of the centers before embarking on the $38 million project to construct the new facility.

To Young, the existence of such a report plays a key role in the debate over his board's controversial decision to sell Citizens and Montevue, which a private operator has renamed Odyssey Assisted Living at Montevue. Commissioners chose privatization to escape the financial burden of subsidizing the facilities, which have needed more than $53 million in taxpayer funds to stay afloat since fiscal 2000.

The study's existence has also become a point in his campaign against Jan Gardner, a Democrat who is squaring off against Young in this year's race for Frederick County executive. Young, a Republican, says his board has taken attacks for plunging headlong into various initiatives without giving them enough thought. But this criticism from Gardner and Commissioner David Gray rings hollow when they failed to order an independent fiscal review before committing millions of taxpayer dollars to the future of Citizens and Montevue, Young argues.

"You can't pick and choose when you want to be fiscally prudent," Young said.

At a public meeting in late April, when asked whether the county completed a financial analysis before approving the construction project for Citizens and Montevue, Gardner said she believed officials had.

Gardner in later interviews said she has been unable to track down an independent, pre-project study that describes how a new building would enable the centers to regain their financial footing. However, she said officials examined finances at the two homes on countless occasions during the time she was in office, from 1998 to 2010.

"Through the history of this last three or four boards, it was debated many, many, many times, and a lot of numbers were run on it," Gardner said of the facilities.

One of the earliest reports about the construction project was crafted by a blue ribbon task force in 2000. The task force found that the need for Citizens would continue long into the future, but noted that its existing home needed renovations and did not meet Americans with Disabilities Act requirements. Building a new facility likely would be cheaper than fixing the existing structure, the task force reported.

A couple of years later, a design feasibility study by a contractor also suggested that a new building would be the most flexible and cost-effective way of addressing the deficiencies of the existing homes. A modern building with up-to-date insulation and mechanical equipment would also reduce day-to-day costs at the facilities, the report found.

Officials expected that a new facility would help lower vacancy rates, since the nursing home rooms would be more spacious and contain two rather than three beds apiece. Adding 15 beds to Montevue could also generate extra revenue, they anticipated.

However, none of the studies from the early 2000s estimated how much the new building could reduce the centers' operational deficits. 

The board in 2001 discussed commissioning a study looking at the financial prudence of continued county ownership of the nursing home and assisted living center. Commissioners tabled consideration of the study, and county staff have been unable to find any trace of it after that point.

County commissioners, including Gardner and Gray, voted in 2002 to move forward with the project to construct a new building rather than renovating the old one. Officials broke ground was broken on the project in 2009, and the building's doors opened in 2012.

Rick Weldon, who was a county commissioner in 2002, said he doesn't remember seeing a comprehensive financial analysis. Not ordering a fiscal study was "shortsighted," he acknowledged, although he has supported the county's ownership of the homes.

"I would've felt better about it not being an intuitive decision and based on numbers, and we did not have that," Weldon said in a recent interview.

Don Linton, a member of the blue ribbon task force and the Citizens board of trustees, agreed that no single report mapped out how the facilities could become financially independent from the county. 

However, Linton, an accountant, put together a two-page sheet showing the possible revenue that would come with the new building and said he provided the estimates to several boards of commissioners. According to his calculation, the building move could open up more than $4 million in annual revenue, an amount that would wipe out a significant chunk of the deficits at the centers.

"Three or four years ago, we were really anticipating Citizens would show a profit, and there's no reason it would not if the beds are filled," Linton said.

Gray said when commissioners approved the construction project, it was less a question of money than of continuing to serve the county's older citizens.

But over the years, Gardner said, county leaders thought extensively about how to make the centers more efficient. In 2010, for instance, a private consultant crafted a strategic business plan that considered the facility finances. Later that year, the consultant also reviewed staff salaries and benefits with recommendations for almost $250,000 in annual savings.

In 2013, another consultant study showed that by cutting costs and increasing occupancy, Citizens could pay its bills with some money left over to offset shortfalls at Montevue.

Gardner said Young's critique of past boards is hypocritical because he in May signed a lease agreement with the prospective buyers of Citizens and Montevue without conducting a financial review.

She also argues that selling the facilities for $30 million is far from taxpayer protection. The new buildings alone cost $38 million, a figure that doesn't include the land value and other assets, she said.

"Blaine Young has sold these brand new facilities at fire sale prices, giving away county land for free, and has not listened to the public," she wrote in an email.

Young said the county staff did complete an analysis of the lease agreement with the prospective buyer of Citizens and Montevue. The county manager said the rent charged to Aurora Holdings VII covers the county's facility maintenance and insurance costs and debt service on the building.

Follow Bethany Rodgers on Twitter: @BethRodgersFNP.

(33) comments

allconnected

i suspect that Blaine knows the jig is up for him in this county. He will be hard pressed to win this upcoming election. The numbers don't lie. Blaine, unfortunately, does. He is pathological in all of his deceit and manipulation.

I voted against Blaine in the primary, and I will vote against him in the general election coming up. I know that many feel the same as I do and I hope to see the numbers for the voter turnout increase in November.

Remember: insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results.

backroomfrederick

Ruining Frederick one deal after another. Taxpayer theft and free land. The third part of the deal is behind closed doors I'm sure.

dvtjht1

"You can't pick and choose when you want to be fiscally prudent," Young said.

i guess why he NEVER is???

doreenmcgill

Bingo-- guido207, posting earlier , nailed it with these two quotes taken from his comment:
"This is a Young campaign propaganda piece."
"The FNP is enabling Young to fabricate his own news."

Blaine Young first had this story aired as a featured news item at WFMD radio the week before the primary. In fact, Mr Young often uses the WFMD news division "to fabricate his own news" and pass off "campaign propaganda" as legitimate news.

dbjanda1

Darth---While you're so concerned about cost study analysis, where is one on the final lease term agreement that Blaine signed off on by himself ???...Why won't he disclose that to the people he supposedly represents or does he just represent himself ???...Me

SaveFrederick

Darth - Blaine's deal is a financial failure. In the budget just adopted the county included a payment of $7.3 million to Aurora to operate Citizens and Montevue. The County budget was $2.9 million to operate both. Taxpayers are stuck paying $4 million more than if the county continued to operate these buildings. This bad deal is costing us all more. And, if the sale ever goes through we are selling a building that cost $38 million to build for $30 million and then giving Aurora $5 million in accounts receivable and the land for free! The debt can't even be paid off with the proceeds. Blaine simply cannot be believed. He will do anything to sell these buildings and it is Blaine to blame for this bad deal.

MCEDDE21

This is just another serving of red herring from the (ahem!) "limited" menu at Blaine's Fantasy Diner. He can't find any evidence in the County's files, (which he controls) to show that he's wrong. Imagine that!

Blaine is attempting to direct attention away from what he's up to, by claiming that the previous BoCC didn't perform a "financial analysis" before building our two County homes. The fact is that his Board performed no "financial analysis," either--no pro-forma valuation, on an asset basis or a discounted future cash flow basis--before putting our homes on the auction block.

Even if you ignore what every Board over the last 200 years found wise and just, what matters is the fact that the Young/Smith Board is destroying our County's heritage and its future. What matters is the fact that the Blaine Board performed no "financial analysis" before putting our County homes on the auction block. What matters is the fact that Young is giving away (at a minimum) $55 Million in taxpayer assets for a mere $30 Million.

Don't be distracted by red herrings.

darththevader

That's funny. Jan can't seem to come up with a study either. Losing $5,000,000 a year isn't an asset, it's a liability.

What's getting ruined? They are atill there. Is every other county in the state ruined that isn't in the nursing home business?

Mmadono

Two can play this game. Where's the study that shows new development pays for itself in Frederick? Blaine seems to swear by that statement, but that study seems to be missing too.

darththevader

Where's the study that it doesn't pay for itself? We know for certain what the Citizen losses are. No study needed, just look at the books

matts853

Blaine is the fox watching the hen house. This reminds me of the IRS debacle of lost emails. We have been promised updated financials on the WTE for over a year - where are they Blaine? And let's see the supposed "numbers" you ran for the lease agreement. People should not believe a word this man says.

And let's not forget this Pearl of Wisdom from BoCC genius Kirby Delauter saying he doesn't need to look at financials - not hat he would understand one:

Commissioner Gray, the lone opposing vote, pointed out that the County had received no financial report on Buck’s Choice to enable a proper risk assessment of the deal. Commissioner Delauter shot back, “I don’t need the financials. I’m not liable…”

Blaine, Paul, Billy, Kirby - just be quiet. No one believes you anymore.

bukweet

excellent points, matts853. blaine is the master of smoke & mirrors...

and he doesn't even realize that when he says:

"You can't pick and choose when you want to be fiscally prudent," Young said (above)

of course he's also referring to himeslf and 'own' BoCC. he's a grand hypocrite.

alovelyplace

It is certainly interesting that Blaine Young prefers to look back to past bi-partisan BOCC's to seek to condemn his opposition candidate instead of allowing the real time 18 month study of the new Montevue/Citizens Home to complete before giving them away to a for-profit company with intentions to do just that.... Profit wildly at Frederick County taxpayer's expense.

dbjanda1

The person that lost the supposed nursing home study is the same person that plastered posters on Blaine's cab co. building...He was the only one that reported the vandalism that went public and now we have another figment of his imagination about a supposed missing study...There's a common denominator here and 'it's everybody else's fault but me': Blaine Young...

ALincoln

I can only assume if Blaine Young loses in the upcoming general election (and he most certainly will) he will find a cozy spot on the Aurora Board of Directors or some other high salary position with this company. Members of the US Congress do this all the time becoming lobbyists or high salaried employee for some major campaign contributor. Legal...yes, ethical...???

mburns

those who post on hear have been able to dig up every bit of evidence to go after Blaine and this BOCC. Certainly if an analysis was done, then they should be able to come up with it. Or at least they should be able to find minutes or links to video that shows one was requested.

Jan didn't have dealings with the IRS back then did she [smile]

japorciento

So, you think that Jan should have the records? The County, Mr. ex-Mayor of Thurmont, is the custodian of such records. You know that, right?

mburns

Of course the County has the resorts and if they had them then someone, anyone would get them out to the public....but they also would have the recode of the meetings and taped recording if they existed. It seems to me they don't exist because the analysis was never done. That's all I'm saying.

mburns

records...sorry for the typo

gary4books

I, for one, would like to see any study of the nature described, and expect that even the County has "lost" copies the source should have plenty of copies or a printer to make them. I am not close to the issue, but my sense has been that it could be a "sweetheart" deal to sell very low and who knows where the profits may go?
Documented studies that say it is a good deal for the County would put these unfounded suspicions to rest. I have no reason to doubt Mr. Young or his integrity. But these things are best served when transparent.

BlueDawn666

Since Blaine can access those type of "records" any time his little 'ole heart desires with the help of his "friends" whose is to say that the study didn't conveniently disappear? What prompted this search just suddenly right now? Why did Blaine not search for this study like a year ago, when all of this controversy started. Why just now seems like he knew what the results would be before the search even began.

Seems there are two studies that were in 2010 and 2013 that prove the homes can be viable.
In 2010, for instance, a private consultant crafted a strategic business plan that considered the facility finances. Later that year, the consultant also reviewed staff salaries and benefits with recommendations for almost $250,000 in annual savings.

In 2013, another consultant study showed that by cutting costs and increasing occupancy, Citizens could pay its bills with some money left over to offset shortfalls at Montevue.

AND: officials HAVE examined finances at the two homes on countless occasions.
Seems to me we have plenty of studies to look at.

Seems to me that this alleged study that just cannot be found in a location that Commissioner Young can access at his heart's desire, is irrelevant at this point and even if it is found what would it prove? What wouldn't it prove? So friggin' what?

You can't pick and choose when you want to be fiscally prudent," Young said...SERIOUSLY do even listen to the words that come out of your mouth do you?

Selling the facilities for $30 million is NOT fiscally prudent. The new buildings alone cost $38 million, a figure that doesn't include the land value and other assets. Perhaps you need some learning Blaine as to what it means to be fiscally prudent because you have not ever been fiscally prudent in your time in office.

Bethany when are you going to stop letting yourself be played by Blaine Young?


japorciento

[thumbup][thumbup]

japorciento

There he goes again; pointing the finger of Blaine at somebody else. I thought Blaine was a Republican. Oh. That’s right. He USED to be a Democrat until he realized that he was the cartoon Underdog and needed to find a new identity, if he wanted to become a career politician; sort of like an illegal alien in "his own" town, on the mean streets, where he was raised.

japorciento

Blaine is both a RINO and a DINO at the same time.

Fireball

[thumbup]

guido207

This is a Young campaign propaganda piece. Readers have to be embarrassed for Ms. Rogers and the FNP who appear quite content to be used as tools for the Young campaign.

The pattern: Young tells this reporter to write a story and is very specific about exactly how it should be written. Young's copy makes up the first part of the article. The reporter makes a few phone calls and includes a some quotes from the victims of Young's attacks to throw into the end of the article.

The FNP is enabling Young to fabricate his own news and is doing its best to return to office a man who gave away $191,000,000 to residential developers, is deficit spending $30,000,000 in the proposed budget, and who promoted his girlfriend into one of the most important jobs in the County. These topics are newsworthy. Where are those articles?

gary4books

Try reading it again.

armillary

Nearly four years of discontinuity
we've suffered from Blaine's incongruity
and our will to do more
in our care for the poor
he's precluded now in perpetuity.

armillary

"You can't pick and choose," Blaine explained
"my hatred for welfare's ingrained."
"Poor people don't vote,"
"I've got them by the throat,"
"and I'm happy to gloat unrestrained."

darththevader

" In 2013, another consultant study showed that by cutting costs and increasing occupancy, Citizens could pay its bills with some money left over to offset shortfalls at Montevue."

That's like paying a stock broker to say "buy low, sell high"

The bottom line is there was no study and giving the place away would be a savings

thump1202

why is this news? it should be a LTE

SaveFrederick

Blaine is a big whiner. He is always looking for someone else to blame for his failed decisions. Blaine needs to man up and take responsibility for his decision to sell these facilities at a huge financial loss and to end Frederick County's commitment to take care of its own. Three Boards studied this to death and decided to construct new facilities.

Blaine does not care about taking care of our seniors, does not care about selling county facilities at a loss, and does not care about what anyone thinks. Blame yourself Blaine. Blaine lacks any and all leadership ability.

Blaine is running scared after almost half of the primary voters in his party rejected him. Blaine need to go.

darththevader

Failed decision? How is it failing? The place loses millions a year and is needed here any more than government owned and operated facilities in any other county.

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