ROCK ISLAND — Consultants have been hired by the county to assist in the sale of Hope Creek Care Center, 4343 Kennedy Drive, East Moline.
County board members on Tuesday approved hiring Management Performance Associates (MPA) at an hourly rate of $250 for guidance through the RFP (request for proposal) and sale process of the county-owned nursing home. Lauren Boswell-Loftin, Pat O'Brien and Ed Langdon opposed; Edna Sowards, Ron Oelke, Jeff Deppe and David Adams were absent.
MPA currently manages 10 nursing homes, according to County Administrator Jim Snider, and conducts audits on others. Having MPA available as consultants will save money on attorney's fees.
"This is a different type of animal as you go through the RFP process," Snider said. "With MPA's help, I'm very confident we'll be able to keep the legal costs down as we work through this process."
MPA was hired by the county in January for $29,000 to conduct a cost-savings analysis of Hope Creek, concluding the home could be turned around and remain under county ownership. However, county officials concluded the nursing home's short-term debt of $7.5 million could not be overcome and voted June 18 to sell the home.
O'Brien questioned whether the county should hire MPA considering their history with Hope Creek. The consulting firm was hired by the county in 2008 to manage the nursing home but was terminated shortly thereafter.
"This firm has managed 10 homes," Snider said. "They provided us with the cost-benefit analysis. I have experience running a home but not selling a home."
Snider is the former administrator of Stephenson County, which also has its own nursing home.
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Snider said he didn't expect the county to spend more than $1,000 per month on consulting services with MPA.
In a letter from MPA to Snider dated July 17, the firm said it will answer "any questions you might have, research issues, analyze materials that might be submitted to you, and otherwise provide management support for Rock Island County in the sale of Hope Creek. Any recommendations by MPA are for advisory purposes only; you will remain responsible for making decisions with respect to the sales process."
MPA agreed in its contract that its services may be terminated by the county at any time so long as they are compensated for work performed.
"It is due diligence on my part; I'm willing to admit what I don't know and they have the expertise," Snider said of MPA. "They understand the regulatory issues and the Certificate of Need that is required by the Illinois Department of Public Health. I know they will provide us some guidance.
"I think we can agree, a speedy (sale) closing would be good thing for everybody," Snider said. "I'm asking you to allow me to pick up the phone and get their advice. MPA will be on the practical side of working through the (sale.) We're talking about a possible multi-million-dollar sale. We get one shot at getting this right."
Board member Kai Swanson agreed.
"Keep in mind what is at stake here," Swanson said. "As Jim said, we have one chance to get this right. We have a massive amount of debt swirling around Hope Creek. If we choose the path of a sale, it behooves us to get the most out of that one sale as we can; at least as much as the amount we are in debt. Every penny we sell this for that is less than the debt means the taxpayers of Rock Island County have to make up that shortfall.
"I think this is a very worthwhile investment," Swanson said.