Morris County Freeholders Consent to Lease Morris View to Private Firm

Board Directs Morris County Improvement Authority to Execute a Contract

Exterior photo of the Morris View Healthcare CenterThe Morris County Board of Freeholders last night passed a resolution consenting to the lease of the Morris View Healthcare Center, and authorizing the Morris County Improvement Authority to finalize an agreement with Allaire Healthcare Group of Freehold to lease the facility.

The MCIA expects to conclude negotiations with Allaire in the coming weeks. The private company should take over Morris View in the fall.

The tentative contract calls for Allaire to pay the county $2.3 million annually, to lease Morris View, which is a 283-bed county owned and operated nursing home and sub-acute rehabilitation facility located in Morris Township.

The initial proposal submitted by Allaire included providing Morris County $2.7 million per year. During contract negotiations, Morris County’s Proposal Review Committee recommended that staffing and program enhancements at Morris View, which were identified as priorities by residents and family members, be incorporated into the final contract.

The Freeholder Board’s commitment to ensure quality of resident care concurred with these enhancements and reduced the annual lease payment by $400,000, to $2.3 million.

Morris County Freeholders Consent to Lease Morris View to Private Firm

Morris County Freeholder Director Douglas Cabana

Combined with a reduction in costs to the county to operate Morris View, the $2.3 million annual lease could result in an initial total annual savings to Morris County taxpayers of $4 million to $6 million, and up to $8 million a year by the end of the decade.

However, even with the positive financial outlook, the freeholders stressed again yesterday that a continued high quality of patient care will be essential to the continuation of any lease arrangement.

“It is important to note that during the lease agreement Morris County will continue to own Morris View and we will closely monitor the quality of care offered by Allaire,’’ said Freeholder Director Doug Cabana. “The health and welfare of the residents at Morris View remains our priority.’’

Meanwhile, in the short term, Allaire will assume management of Morris View starting on July 1. That is when the county’s existing management contract for Morris View with Premier Healthcare expires.

However, during the interim period, and until the lease arrangement with Allaire takes effect in the fall, the county remains ultimately responsible for day-to-day operations and decisions regarding Morris View.

photo of Allaire CEO Ben Kurland

Allaire CEO Ben Kurland

Allaire CEO Ben Kurland yesterday briefed the Morris County Freeholders on his company’s current operations and plans for Morris View.

Kurland said Allaire expects to retain most of the current Morris View staff, has already begun a continuing dialogue with patients’ families, will meet quarterly with county officials to review operations, and has begun a dialogue with hospitals and the medical community in Morris County.

In addition, Kurland said Allaire will emphasize continuing education for the staff and administration, with an emphasis on new technology. He also promised an enhanced slate of programs and activities for patients.

“This is their home – it needs to run like a cruise ship for them,’’ Kurland said. “We may not be the county, but we hope to be the best alternative to running Morris View for our residents.’’

In May, with approval of the Freeholders, the MCIA selected Allaire as the company best qualified from eight applicants to lease Morris View based on evaluation criteria approved by the State Comptrollers’ Office. Factors considered by the panel, included staffing capabilities, operational practices, quality control, and financial viability.

Allaire previously purchased and is successfully operating the former Monmouth County John L. Montgomery nursing home, a 174-bed facility that had been owned and managed by Monmouth County government.

For more information on Morris View, visit: https://morrisview.morriscountynj.gov/

For more information on the Allaire Healthcare Group, visit: http://allairehc.com/

FAQs on the Allaire Transition: https://morrisview.morriscountynj.gov/faq/

MCIA Awards $6.8 Million Construction Contract for the Next Phase of Morris County’s Solar 2 Program

The Morris County Improvement Authority has awarded a $6.8 million contract to Suffern, N.Y. based HESP Solar for the continuation of Morris County’s 2011 Solar 2 Program, which calls for the construction of 9 solar energy projects at 9 county government, school and municipal sites across the county.

The contract was approved unanimously by the MCIA last week, with specific details provided to the Morris County Board of Freeholders at their work session in Morristown this morning by MCIA Counsel Matthew Jessup. HESP, which was the low bidder, has partnered with California-based Barrier Solar as its subcontractor on the solar projects.

Work is expected to proceed on several ground-mounted solar projects in mid-to-late May, with work on all of the projects to be completed between September and November of this year.

The projects remain eligible for a 27.4 percent reimbursement for site construction from the federal government through the Federal 1603 Program, which requires work to be completed by a Dec. 31, 2016 deadline.

To view the contract approved by the MCIA, visit: https://improvement.morriscountynj.gov/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/605502_3.pdf

Freeholder Deborah Smith
Freeholder Deborah Smith

“The authority looked very carefully at the solar sites to be developed, taking a very conservative approach to virtually ensure that this round of solar development will generate revenue while also saving dollars by reducing energy needs for participating towns and school districts – and also including county sites,’’ said Freeholder Deborah Smith, the county governing board’s liaison to the MCIA. “We expect this to go much better than the first round of this solar endeavor, and to pay off some of our previous solar debts.’’

The nine projects to be developed include:

  • Morris County Library, Hanover Township, roof and canopy panels;
  • Morris County Public Safety Training Academy, Parsippany, roof and canopy panels;
  • Morris County Office of Temporary Assistance tract, Morris Township, ground panels;
  • Chatham High School, roof panels;
  • Chester Township municipal building, ground panels;
  • Sandshore Elementary School, Mount Olive, ground panels;
  • Tinc School, Mount Olive, ground panels;
  • Long Valley Middle School, Washington Township, ground panels
  • Benedict A. Cucinella School, Washington Township, roof panels.

The contract includes a monetary penalty clause if certain construction deadlines are not met, and includes a bonus provision if properly done work is completed ahead of deadlines. Also, construction performance and payment bonds are required for each project.

The freeholders in November, 2015, approved construction of 9 solar projects after a comprehensive and exhaustive review of the economics of 16 potential solar sites across the county.

The board employed a conservative assessment of each of the 9 sites to be constructed regarding their future economic viability. It also made a significant effort to project, as best as possible, that the solar power that is generated will produce revenue to help pay off past Solar 2 project debt and provide long-term energy cost savings for the county, local governments and school districts that are hosting the solar panels.

The primary objective of the review process was to select only sites that presented the ability of generate enough revenue to cover their respective portion of debt service, operating and maintenance costs, and the likelihood of producing excess revenues to help pay off previous Solar 2 Program debt.

The work of a specially formed committee centered on the financial viability of completing all, some, or none, of the unbuilt sites in the Solar 2 program with the goals of:

  • Minimizing the county’s financial exposure on bonds originally issued to fund Solar 2;
  • Minimizing risks associated with Solar 2 Project completion, if undertaken;
  • Providing budget relief to county and local units through energy savings.

In 2011, the MCIA sold $34.1 million in county-guaranteed bonds to help finance the MCIA’s renewable energy program to install solar panels at 30 municipal and school sites in Morris County to generate power and reduce energy costs for the participants. Of those projects, 17 have been fully built and are up and running.

However, due to a variety of factors – including a legal battle between renewable energy program’s developer and contractor — the Solar 2 Program has faced financial deficits, prompting the very conservative review and decision making on this latest round of projects.

MCIA Announces Lower Finance Rates for Morris Towns and School Districts, Benefiting Taxpayers

The Morris County Improvement Authority has announced that it will offer even better rates to towns, school and fire districts, and authorities for its county guaranteed leasing program, or CGLP, which offers low cost and tax-exempt financing for the purchase of capital equipment.

At its meeting this week, the Authority accepted revised rates offered by its lessor bank, TD Equipment Finance, which further reduced the floor rates for equipment leases that are in excess of $250,000 as follows:

  • 3-year lease: 1.53 percent (previous floor rate was 1.85)
  • 5-year lease: 1.75 percent (previous floor rate was 2.10)
  • 10-year lease: 2.25 percent (previous floor rate was 2.75)

Leases in excess of $750,000 will receive a further reduced rate to be determined by the lessor bank.

Since 2004 the CGLP has financed $49 million in capital equipment through 155 separate lease transactions. The strength of the program lies in the county’s top-ranked Triple A credit strength, which allow borrowing entities to use the county’s most favorable interest rates for the leasing of equipment.

Freeholder Deborah Smith
Freeholder Deborah Smith

“The Improvement Authority offers reduced costs and future savings to participants in its capital equipment leasing program, which allows them to take advantage of the county’s top-ranked Triple A bond rating for the best rates possible,’’ said Freeholder Deborah Smith, who is a liaison to the MCIA.

“The new, lower rates will be an even greater benefit to the taxpayers of this county,’’ she added.

The Improvement Authority, which was established in 2002 by the Morris County Board of Freeholders, provides municipalities, school districts and the county with innovative and cost effective methods of funding projects and saving tax dollars at the same time.

By using the MCIA and the county’s AAA Bond rating to finance such projects as equipment and vehicle purchases or leasing, school and municipal construction projects, and capital programs, local officials can spend fewer dollars and thereby reduce the property tax burden on their residents.

Since its inception, the Improvement Authority transacted more than $300 million worth of construction and refinancing loans for the county, school districts, and local governments, saving them $17.5 million in debt service as a result of pooling transactions.

Of that, one-third, or $5.5 million was directly attributed to leveraging Morris County’s AAA bond rating to enhance the savings.