Sunnyview, Butler County nursing home, sold; money could fund construction of office buildings

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Ownership of Butler County’s nursing home, Sunnyview Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, has been transferred into private ownership and the transition has gone smoothly, officials say. The approximate $19 million infusion of cash could be used to pay for two county-owned office buildings.

Butler County Commissioners Chairman Bill McCarrier said closing agreements were signed on May 15 and the takeover by Investment 360 of Lakewood, N.J., was completed May 18.

The firm kept on about 90 percent of 250 employees there, including administrator Sue Muray. Occupancy remained at near capacity of 220, Mr. McCarrier said.

The sale followed decades of discussion, some heated. Of the three members on the board of commissioners, two favored the sale and one was against: Mr. McCarrier and Dale Pinkerton were in favor with Jim Eckstein against.

It came down to the complexity and cost of operating within a health care system that involves subsidies from and requirements of the government, Mr. McCarrier said. “This was such a complex operation and a small county-owned nursing home just can’t do it any more. It’s almost impossible,’’ he said.

Revenue hasn’t been meeting expenses for years. In 2013, the facility, which costs about $20 million annually to run, had a shortfall of some $800,000 that was covered by the county’s operating budget. Also, some $300,000 in accumulated “bad accounts” had to be written off before the sale of the building could be completed.

The sale price for the facility was $18 million plus 75 percent of the accounts receivable. Mr. McCarrier explained that the figure was less than 100 percent of the income that’s due from various sources because an average of 10 percent generally isn’t collected, and the balance is being viewed by the county as payment to the new owner for collecting the receivables.

While that anticipated revenue to the county was estimated at $2.4 million, Mr. McCarrier said various fees — from fixing utility lines to attorneys fees — dropped the figure. The net infusion of cash from the sale stands at about $19 million, he said.

He is proposing that the money be used to pay for construction of a new office building that is to be attached to the downtown Butler courthouse and government center. The estimated cost of that building is $12.2 million. Also, a new district justice office is being built in Cranberry and is expected to cost $1.2 million. Mr. McCarrier would like to fund that project, as well. The balance would be split between about $5 million for the county’s operating reserve fund and the rest going to the county’s capital reserve fund.

Final decisions on how to spend the money will be made by the commissioners after all revenues are in and counted.

The sale of the nursing home, along Morton Avenue in Butler Township, included the building plus about 8 acres. The county has retained ownership of the rest of the complex, which includes the 911 emergency dispatch center, a district judge office and the Area Agency on Aging office.

Karen Kane: or 724-772-9180.

Karen Kane: or at 724-772-9180.

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