Seventeen of 18 Suffolk legislators are asking County Executive Steve Bellone to accept a "firm offer" of $15 million from Brookhaven Memorial Hospital Medical Center to buy the former John J. Foley nursing home rather than a higher bid from a private operator who backed out of an earlier deal.

Eleven members of the Democratic Caucus and five Republicans wrote Bellone late last week asking that he back the sale to the East Patchogue nonprofit hospital because it would provide badly needed dialysis, mental health and drug rehab services. Legis. William Spencer (D-Centerport), a physician, said Monday he backs the letter but could not sign it because he was treating patients.

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"While we admit the other offer is higher . . . we believe Brookhaven's offer would be in the long term best interests of the community," the legislative letter states.

Justin Meyers, a Bellone spokesman, said, "We received the letter Monday and we are reviewing it. Any decision will have to go through the legislature and we look forward to working with lawmakers on the sale of the Foley building."

The effort is aimed at blocking a Bellone resolution to sell the shuttered 264-bed Yaphank building for $20 million to Bronx-based private nursing home operator Kenneth Rozenberg, who wants to relocate beds from some of his other facilities to Foley. Rozenberg in 2011 at the last minute backed out of a $36 million deal to buy Foley.

Bellone has backed the Rozenberg sale because it provides the highest price, relieves the county of $700,000 in annual maintenance costs and will generate $500,000 in property tax revenue annually. However, Bellone's proposed 2016 budget only includes $18.9 million in revenue from the Rozenberg sale after deducting a town development fee and real estate commissions.

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GOP Legis. Thomas F. Barraga of West Islip said he backs the higher bid and predicted that lawmakers won't find budget cuts to offset the lower offer. "There will be a lot of bluster . . . but those cuts are not happening," he said. "And given our severe financial condition, we need all the money we can generate."