Posts Tagged ‘Runnells’

Runnells Information Blackout

For anyone who may be interested in finding out about what is going on with the Runnells sale you could send the county an Open Public Records Request for:

  1. Runnels hospital report done by the “evaluation team” that analyzed costs incurred through the sale of the hospital, that lists unemployment costs, pension obligations, retirement health benefits, etc., possibly called the Runnels evaluation report
  2. List of members who were on the “evaluation team” and or the consultant/outside third party that was involved in developing this report.
  3. Back up calculations, analysis, spreadsheets, paperwork, notes and documents for the costs and numbers incurred from the sale of Runnels that the “evaluation report” notes.

And, for what has already cost $253,000 through the Union County Improvement Authority alone so far, you would get as a response…….

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Runnells Deal

There was theater as the freeholders insisted first that there was no decision and then lamented individually how tough this decision was. Over two hours of video and it will all be up here over the next few days (the official UCIA presentation without any official from the UCIA being present; the appeals to reason; one of the candidates in the running to buy Runnells asking why his company was not chosen despite 5-star ratings for all his facilities) but first, what’s going to happen:
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and seeing through the sham:
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Runnells for Sale or Lease – Contact former Freeholder Sullivan

UNION COUNTY IMPROVEMENT AUTHORITY
REQUEST FOR QUALIFICATIONS/REQUEST FOR PROPOSALS
RUNNELLS SPECIALIZED HOSPITAL
UNION COUNTY, NEW JERSEY

NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that the Union County Improvement Authority is conducting a competitive procurement process to solicit qualifications and proposals from firms interested in purchasing or leasing all or part of the property and/or operations of the Runnells Specialized Hospital in Berkley Heights, New Jersey. The County of Union presently owns and operates Runnells, which contains a 300-bed Licensed Long Term Care Unit, a 44-bed Licensed Adult Psychiatric Care Unit, and room for expansion.

The procurement process and schedule are explained fully in a Request for Qualifications/Request for Proposals, which may be obtained on the Union County Improvement Authority’s website, http://ucimprovementauthority.org. The RFQ/RFP describes the alternative ownership and operations options the County and the Authority, through a shared services agreement, wish to explore. These include purchase of the Runnells property and operations, in whole or in part; lease of the Runnells property and operations, in whole or in part; and purchase of the Runnells property only.

Proposals are due on December 10, 2013. Pre-Proposal Conferences and Site Visits will be conducted on October 9 and October 23, 2013 at 11:00 a.m. at Runnells, and require advance registration, as explained in the RFQ/RFP. Please submit any requests for accommodation of persons with disabilities to the Union County Improvement Authority (908) 820-9710.

It is the goal of the County of Union and the Authority to select a proposer and a plan for Runnells that will be the most beneficial to the patients and to the County and its residents. Only firms that possess the experience and financial stability to carry out one of the options described in the RFQ/RFP will be considered.
The RFQ/RFP process is being undertaken in accordance with the “New Jersey Local Unit Pay to Play” Law, N.J.S.A. 19:44A-20.5 et seq.

Union County Improvement Authority
Union County, New Jersey
Daniel P. Sullivan
Interim Executive Director
Dated: September 25, 2013

Runnells UCIA update

They’re going to try to sell Runnells and a step on the way is Resolution 47-2013 passed unanimously at the 7/31/13 special meeting of the Union County Improvement Authority (UCIA) board adopting a MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING which boils down to:

A) CHR Report options for Runnells were:

  1. revenue enhancements
  2. expense reductions
  3. alternative ownership

B) They want to go with option A(3) and sell it to the UCIA for the “possible transfer of such operations to a third-party”

C) They’re selling Runnells

For further clarification (though nothing about why the county needs to have the UCIA involved in the sale instead of doing it on its own) here is Jonathon Williams, Esq. of DeCotiis, Fitzptrick & Cole, LLP:
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Next: What’s going on with the the Solar Energy Program and the Tioga Bankruptcy

Runnells: What’s Coming Down

Union County will sell/lease the Runnells nursing home, as has been the trend elsewhere, and here’s why.

As of the beginning of 2013 Runnells listed 428 employees making $20,303,653 in base salary though according to the 2013 county executive budget (which is the only place overtime appears) base pay is supposed to be $21,062,070, overtime is $2,172,350 and Other Expenses are $12,464,199 for a total cost of $35,698,619.   The revenue item (County Board of Pay Patients) in the budget is $35,200,000 so it appears to be projecting a loss of $498,619 if you stop there, which is often what the freeholders do when they want to pretend that Runnells is (or was) ever profitable:

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However, according to  a February 7, 2013 study prepared by Complete HealthCare Resources (CHR) the county is subsidizing Runnells by $13.1 million not $500,000.  Why the difference?

Employee benefits: Health care insurance ($7 million) , pension payments ($4 million), Employer portion of FICA ($1.6 million) get added to that .5 million in reported losses to come up to CHR’s $13.1 million number*.

So what is the county going to do about it?

They’re going to take most of those benefits away possibly with CHR’s help since the same company that charged $60,000 for consulting also happens to provide management services and might be able to use Obamacare and their 401(k) plan# to cut costs for the county and make a tidy profit for themselves all on the backs of the federal government and current Runnells employees.

Another wrinkle is that the Runnells property is valued at $36 million and pays no property taxes.  Selling it to a private entity would put this on the tax rolls (for an estimated $1.3 million) with most of that money going to taxpayers of Berkeley Heights.  In other cases, the Salem County nursing home was sold in 2011 and is now bringing in $95,000 in taxes based on a value of $4 million.  The Mercer County Geriatric Center brings in $175,000 in taxes on a $10 million value though the county still owns another $3 million piece.

The Runnells property will be sold or leased with the announcement coming around mid-November.  Whether it remains as a nursing home is still an open question.  It’s unlikely to be for office space since the Connell properties are right down the street and they’re hurting.   But condominiums?

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* Though that pension number is ridiculously understated because of all the contribution games New Jersey plays.  The real cost for this item alone is at least $10 million annually for the Runnells people if you work under the assumption that they will ever see their full pensions (which I don’t).

# The 401(k) plan for CHR employees, according their 2011 5500 filing, is particularly chintzy.  CHR matches about 14% of employee contributions and only about 20% of eligible employees even participate.

The Demise of Runnells Hospital

I attended a 2/7/2013 union county freeholder meeting where they had a presentation on the Runnels Hospital issue.  Runnel’s hospital is part of union county govt and is not actually a hospital but a nursing care and psychiatric facility.  The presentation was given by CHR, a hospital consultant group that was hired to analyze the situation as follows: The Runnel’s Hospital is running a deficit to the Union county taxpayers of $12 million last year, $17 million this year and next year is forecast to lose $19 million. As recent as 2007, Runnels was near break-even with a “small” loss of $500,000. First, CHR discussed 3 options presented to the Freeholders. One was to address enhancements or inefficiencies which they said could reduce the loss to $10 mill.  Second was tolease out the geriatric care beds to a private firm but this savings would be around $4 mill.  Third was the privatization of the nursing care facility while keeping the county psychiatric license.  They suggested #3 may be the best direction.  CHR noted that in the recent past 2-3 counties have already privatized their health services due to these counties were now losing “several” million dollars a year, unlike Union county which is losing 10’s of millions of dollars.  If sold, Union county could receive $22 million for their facilities based on recent metrics.  CHR stated doing nothing is not an option.

In discussion CHR noted the present main drivers were staff costs such as the census of staff, workers comp claims, hi-wages, increasing fringe and pension costs. He also noted the Medicaid reimbursable per bed has been declining somewhat going from $231/ per bed in 2009 to $222 now.  However, in 2006 to 2008 it had been at a lower average of $210 when runnels had lost only $500,000. CHR considerd this rate as “relatively flat” these many years.  They did note that the rate per bed may go down to $190 in the near future to match what the private sector receives, and thus creates the additional $2 mill loss. The present breakeven cost of the Runnel’s is $275-300 per bed.  Freeholder Sullivan near the end of this presentation noted to the public that it is the fault of low reimbursable not a failure to run the hospital nor mismanagement.  But if reimbursables were “relatively flat” how could they be the blame for the loss going from $500k to $17 mill?

Plus a question begs to be asked: in privatizing county hospitals what motivates private health providers to buy hospitals such as Runnels and pay $20 million dollars and yet think they can remain solvent at reimbursable rates of $200/bed. Maybe it is NOT the reimbursable rate to the county but the Runnels break-even rate of $300/bed.  Was FH Sullivan wrong? Is he deflecting the blame away from him and his cronies?

The UnionCounty Watchdog Association has noted on their website that Runnel’s has been a “patronage pit” for many years with high paid friends, cronies and relatives being dumped on the payroll. The present staff count is around 450 employees. This concern was proven true when last year during the Runnel’s dietary and housekeeping layoffs workers came to the freeholder meetings and stated there is much waste with too many mid-level non-productive management jobs and not enough workers.  One employee stated that a politician’s relative has a manager’s job overseeing one person.  In last week’s 2/21/2013 freeholder meeting nurses publicly noted that huge amounts of unused prescription drugs are being thrown away.  Runnell’s director Wheeler stated that this is all due to government mandates.  But one simple solution would be to use a local pharmacy like CVS for on demand.  And at this same meeting freeholder Sullivan again was regurgitating his talking point that Medicaid reimbursables are the culprit, wrongly deflecting blame.  It is simply county mismanagement.

But sadly we do see an end point.  If someone can jettison $19 million in yearly losses and deposit $20 million into their coffers, this becomes a no brainer.  The irony here is that the ones who screwed up Runnels hospital are the same ones to determine the fate of the hospital and all the staff.

Patronage jobs are being moved from Runnells Hospital

At tonight’s freeholder meeting an ordinance will be introduced which in effect will allow the County to move many of  their Runnells patronage positions into other departments thereby saving these employees from layoff when Runnells is privatized, as well as giving these well connected employees bumping rights over other long-standing employees. A list of these Runnells employees will be made available as soon as the county hands it over.

Freeholder Mohammed S. Jalloh (originally assigned to Hudak on the county’s draft agenda, then changed) will move Ordinance Number 747-2013 for First Reading and authorizing the Clerk of the Board to advertise the same in accordance with the law. The Final Reading and Public Hearing are scheduled for March 14, 2013.

747-2013 AN ORDINANCE TO AMEND THE LAWS OF UNION COUNTY: ADMINISTRATIVE CODE AND POLICIES AND GENERAL LEGISLATION BY AMENDING: CHAPTER 1, UNION COUNTY GOVERNMENT STRUCTURE, ARTICLE XIX-DEPARTMENT OF ENGINEERING, PUBLIC WORKS AND FACILITIES; ARTICLE XXII-DEPARTMENT OF RUNNELLS SPECIALIZED HOSPITAL AND ARTICLE IVI, EMPLOYEE HANDBOOK.

Current Runnells Employees

Chutzpah

At the last freeholder meeting Freeholder Kowalski opined that the Union County Freeholders care immensely for their patients at Runnels Hospital but need to privatize it because the state has cut back on its Medicare and Medicaid funding.  Nice.  Kick the can conveniently up the road and blame it on the Republicans when the county Democrats can’t or won’t get their fiscal house in order.   Maybe the county doesn’t have the money to spend at Runnels (a notorious patronage pit of bloated salaries) because the county freeholders, including Ms Kowalski, voted to spend upwards of 30 million dollars on a new country club at Galloping Hill Golf course.  Ya think?  Or was it the full lifetime health benefits that they voted for 450 nonunion county employees and their families without any idea of what that would cost the taxpayers that robbed the patients at Runnels of their funding?  Another case of the freeholders and THEIR families getting THEIRS and the taxpayers be damned.  Nice -Ms Kowalski.   I’m not buying what you’re selling.  Sad thing is- you believe what you’re saying.

Freeholder Update – 7/19/2012

Runnells Update:
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Bidsall Devanney Memo:
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Westfield Central Avenue Pedestrian Light:
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Maguire Settlement:
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UCUA Waste:
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UC Economic Development
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$437.7 million budget – county is now spending $1,199,000 per day

For the second time in as many years I turned to the county website for directions to the administration building where freeholder meetings are held. Despite telling the freeholders at a meeting that they had the wrong directions on their website, I found the same wrong directions today. We spend about a half million dollars on public information department salaries, and you can’t get directions to the administration building on the county website.

That pretty much sums up Union County government’s rampant incompetence and utter contempt for the public.

The Union County Watchdog Association endeavors to provide citizens with tools to do their own research into county government and about 2,500 visitors hit our website monthly. We also field several requests for documents monthly. The County Watchers blog endeavors to pick-up where the media left off, the Star-Ledger hasn’t had a reporter on county government since last August, and inform the public as issues come up and unfortunately, we never run out of things to report on.

It is evident that the all Democrat controlled freeholder board is a visible tumor of the powerbroker cancer infecting county government. Senator Raymond Lesniak’s nephew being appointed the county manager has proven to be a disaster and the final stages of this government disease that is afflicting the entire state of New Jersey has been set in place. Many believe it is now hopeless. Spending has already straddled future generations with impossible debt and societal problems have been set in place by government which is not for the people, its by and for the powerbrokers.

Some costs and affects when machine politics run government

Payroll

In 2000 there were 24 employee’s earning over 100,000

In 2008 there are 127 employee’s earning over 100,000

Senator Raymond Lesniak’s nephew, is the appointed county manager – George Devanney

In 2000 the County Manager’s salary was $132,498 today it is $163,831. George Devanney’s arrogance is raging on. It’s always been outrageous from when he jointed the county payroll when two part-time positions were created for him, to this current year in which he had his office remodeled and will be issued, after this budget is signed, a brand new Chevy Tahoe for which no purchase orders have been provided to date – to his yearly retroactive pay raises, to his wife’s mother-in-law being put on the county payroll – to his wife being the Open Space Trust Fund Administrator and giving a children’s museum $500,000 with nothing to show for it – to selling government land without an auction to a group that was listed on his wife’s website as a client – to the taxpayer funded Union County Directions Newsletter where recently his Uncle Ray Lesniak promoted his book and Devanney promoted his juvenile fantasy to climb a mountain because he thought he had cancer – to the Music Fest which is Devanney’s birthday party. Any sane government that is accountable to their constituents would cut back on a music fest in these hard financial times but our county government has doubled it to two days to fulfill Senator Lesniak’s nephew’s fantasy of being a music promoter. The county also created a department and staff to oversee the musicfest and promoted Freeholder Sullivan’s niece to be the department head.

George, take a good look at this picture. You’re middle aged, fat, dopey looking and untalented – get over the music promotion thing and off our tax backs.

Union County Democrat Chairman and Executive Director of the Improvement Authority Charlotte DeFilippo

In 1999 the democrats took control of the freeholder board and replaced a part-time Union County Improvement Authority director position with a salary of $40,000. Since then this salary has gone up $103,409. Charlotte DeFilippo’s salary in 2000 was set at $104,000. Charlotte’s current 2008 salary is $143, 409. This year the county added 6 new captain positions to the sheriff’s department, most likely because DeFilippo’s daughter-in-law scored 7th on the Lieutenant’s exam and she needed a spot to move up to. The promotions waiting list was replaced with a new one. In 2000 Melissa’s salary was $37,213 today her salary is $94,503, Charlottes son is also on the Sheriffs payroll he currently makes $86,089. It would have been so much more cheaper for taxpayers had we simply hired a tutor for Melissa to improve her test score. Her scoring 7th caused an approximate added annual cost to payroll: $300,000. Cost to future pension payments – priceless.

Lawsuits and investigations
This past week DeFilippo was scheduled to give a deposition in a lawsuit in which a county employee is charging her with political interference in eliminating his job. She’s accused of running county government operations from her dining room table in Hillside. I can’t wait to read all the depositions stemming from the Robert Travisano lawsuit. It’s expensive entertainment. It cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees to date with no end in site. Charlotte is also under investigation by the State’s AG’s office, there is no official word on what she is being investigated for but chances are that one issue is that she also runs the Union County Improvement Authority from her dining room table. Taxpayers are also paying the legal bills in connection with this investigation.

Freeholders and campaigning
Summit recently passed a resolution calling for a more equitable way to have representation on the freeholder board. Freeholder Adrian Mapp who fell out of favor with the Democrat machine last year and lost the line went on to serve several more months on the board. In that short time he proved how even one outsider on the freeholder board could make a huge difference in not only saving tax dollars, but keeping things under control. It was Adrian Mapp who introduced an ordinance that lowered the cost of copies for public records to 10 cents a page (down from .75). When Mapp was in office the county canned it’s taxpayer funded election season kick-off by not producing and airing a TV commercial and following up with a 4 page glossy color mailer. This campaign initiative historically cost taxpayers $200,000, I fully expect this cancer symptom to reoccur this August. The county manager’s furniture was built by the county carpenters, but not installed until after Mapp left the building. I imagine if Mapp was elected to another 3 years Ray Lesniak’s nephew would not have had his office remodeled, nor would he be getting a brand new Chevy Tahoe, ahh the possibilities for more competent government are endless…and gone as I do not see any relief from powerbroker controlled county government in the near future.

The 2008 Budget

I didn’t get a copy of the 2008 proposed budget until the Star-Ledger ran the county’s press release on it. The UCWA has filed a complaint with the States Government Records Council, because budgets are supposed to be made available upon request. This goes to further prove that the county has so much to hide and they fear public scrutiny.

Golf courses

They lost 500,000 last year.

Prison

The county feigned outrage over prisoner fugitives and praised the prosecutor’s office for a quick capture, even though, it took them 26 days to recapture the prisoners. It was George Devanney who squashed a plan to install camera’s. Where is the freeholders outrage over Devanney’s incompetence? Instead he was rewarded with a renovated office, a Chevy Tahoe and a two-day MusicFest birthday party.

Some of the measures the county has taken after this international embarrassment and destroying a young family because of the county’s handling of the escape: Hired 51 new corrections officers to help improve the operations at the facility and cut down on overtime; A phase I installation of additional cameras (Budget doesn’t mention how many more phases are in store) cost $800,000; Razor wire around the jail’s perimeter and sub-roofs $56,000; Hired a new jail director who used to be in charge of transportation at Rikers Island, he lives approximately 2 hours away in Atlantic County and drives a county vehicle with free gas too and from work, and wherever else he damn well pleases just as the county manager does.

Created a new Department of Corrections. Given the complex issues that include overtime, physical structure, and manpower that have historically plagued this facility, the freeholders now believe that should have the same access and accountability to the county manager’s office and freeholder board as a Department Director. This will serve to simplify communication, provide better oversight, and response to all situations. What this doesn’t say is what the freeholders used to believe, that although the jail is a basic service of county government, and pretty much all we need county government to do, the freeholders never believed the jail was something they needed to fret about in order to get reelected.

Vo Tech Schools

They are bonding $20 million dollars to add a performing arts high school. They are also spening $150,00 for fitness center upgrades and $170,000 for new furniture – the county manager’s sister-in-law is a furniture saleswoman.

Runnells Specialized Hospital

Lost 500,000 last year and is projected to lose 2-million this year. The Runnell’s Director retired and is now receiving his pension and was hired back as a consultant. The county manager’s mother-in-law was added to the Runnells payroll where she joined an illustrious long line of cronies as the hospital is a patronage pit. She originally worked for Assemblywoman Linda Stender who became a Runnells employee when she left the freeholder board to be an Assemblywoman, Stender left the Runnells payroll when she announced her run for Congress and hasn’t returned yet, she’s still running for Congress.

The Overall County Budget Spin

The county maintains their commitment to funding popular county services, what they don’t mention is that these services are mostly funded by the state, such as meals on wheels (State grant funded), road repaving (state grant funded) and infrastructure improvements (state grant funded), VoTech Schools, Homeland Security (Federal grant funded), the Sheriff’s Office (6 new captains $300,000; Union County is one of only 2 counties that have both a Sheriff’s and Police Department. Neither patrol the jail, the public safety department does that), the Prosecutor’s office (will be getting 50 new personal computers), our county parks system (Lenape Park Bike Trail is State grant funded), and child safety seat inspections (State grant funded and cost only $37,250.00. This “service” is used annualy in campaign literature).

Keep in mind the salary increases mentioned above and read what the county wrote in their budget introduction: “We cannot ignore the steady rise of mandated salary, pension and health insurance costs continuing to eat at revenue”. So they are implementing fiscal measures to provide budget relief in these areas where they have had “traditional” shortfalls. First they have delayed salary increases for all exclusionary county employees until July 1st of this year, but this didn’t include the county manager. George Devanney got his retroactive pay raise check on time. Why bother to read the rest of the spin?