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Long IslandPoliticsSpin Cycle

Suffolk's Barraga suggests a deal to divide Foley home control

Suffolk Legis. Thomas Barraga has proposed the county split ownership of the John J. Foley Skilled Nursing Facility with potential buyers for the next five years in an effort to get past recent stumbling blocks that have stymied the $23 million sale.

The West Islip Republican said he sent his proposal to Presiding Officer William Lindsay, all other legislators, the county union and County Executive Steve Bellone, who is pressing for immediate sale of the home,

“This is just a starting point,” said Barraga, “But the options are dwindling as we have to avoid the worst case sceneario — to close Foley — ,," which Lindsay said "would just be a failure of leadership on the party of everyone.”

Under his proposal, Barraga said buyers Israel and Benjamin Sherman should pay the county $11.5 million for a 50 percent share of the 264-bed Yaphank complex and that current county employees, represented by Association of Muncipal Employees, should be guaranteed their current wages and benfits for three years.

In addition, all nursing home residents would remain while the Shermans run the home. The privatet operators would have control over new admissions.

Newly hired employees would belong to a union such as Local 1199, which represents private nursing home workers. After three years, the remaining county employees would become part of that union representing the newer Foley employees. In addition, after five years, the Shermans would be elibible to buy out the county’s share of Foley   for $11.5 million or its value at that time. whichever is higher. The county legislature would have to approve any sale.

Jon Schneider, deputy county executive, said the administration has received Barraga’s proposal, but added, “It’s a little late to go back to square one.” Union officials did not immediately return calls for comment.

Barraga’s proposal surfaced after the Brookhaven Zoning Board of Appeals refused a special permit for the nursing home to operate in private hands, claiming the county failed to show an “unreasonable hardship.” A committee of the state’s Public Health and Health Planning Council also rejected the sale, but the full council balked at a final vote and sent it back to the committee for further consideration.

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