Cumberland County begins distributing proceeds from sales of Claremont Nursing

Cumberland County Commissioners Thursday approved the first in a series of cash transfers affecting the remaining $16.5 million in proceeds from the sale of Claremont Nursing & Rehabilitation Center.

The commissioners unanimously voted to transfer $4.15 million to the county’s retirement fund, to be drawn down over a period of several years, as determined by the actuaries who advise the county’s retirement board.

“Is it fair to say that by deferring this money, we are guaranteeing that former care home workers will have their pension available when the time comes?” asked Commissioner Jean Foschi before voting in favor of the motion during a workshop session.

“Yes, it’s funding that commitment,” said Dana Best, the county’s chief financial officer. Best reviewed three other proposed transfers that commissioners have yet to act on.

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The next commission meeting is scheduled for Monday at 2pm in the Hearing Room on the second floor of the New Courthouse, 1 Courthouse Square.

The three remaining proposed transfers are:

  • Approximately $7,426,765 for County General Fund tied fund to use for future projects or other initiatives.
  • Approximately $4,584,071 to the general fund to cover ongoing costs and potential costs and fees associated with the nursing home.
  • Approximately $356,550 to the Internal Service/Healthcare Self Insurance Fund for future costs related to other post-employment benefits.

Cumberland County Commissioners scheduled the transfer of ownership of Claremont for March 13

Cumberland County completed the sale of Claremont to Allaire Health Services for $22.25 million in March. Work has since been done to calculate how much of that would be left after the county accounted for all costs associated with the nursing home before, during, and after the transition.

The timing of that calculation depended on when county employees were able to finish processing bills from staffing agencies along with paperwork related to other expenses such as hazard pay and bonuses for nursing home workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

After months of work, Best told commissioners Thursday it had determined about $16.5 million remained from the sale. From this, her office recommended the series of proposed transfers.

Dana Best

Dana Best

“My goal is to close the nursing home fund by the end of the year,” Best said. “To do that, I will be asking for referrals to cover ongoing expenses.”

As for the $7.4 million, the plan is to put that money in a committed fund for future allocations, Best said.

“The tied balance is subject to a higher level of usage restrictions, so only the commissioners can release that balance,” she said.

Best and her office staff sought the advice of officials from other counties who had experience selling a nursing home.

“Your strong recommendation is to make sure you have enough funds set aside to cover expenses,” she said. “They all put money aside and everyone said it wasn’t enough. That expenses keep accumulating over time.”

Of the four proposed transfers, Best recommended immediate action on age allocation. She didn’t give a timeline during the meeting on when to act on the other transfers.

The reason for transferring $4.5 million is to cover any indirect costs that may arise over the next two to four years. As an example, she cited the possibility of an audit finding that the county had to pay out some money. There’s also ongoing payroll costs for county employees who are still working to process nursing home-related expenses, Best said.

Joseph Cress is a reporter for The Sentinel, covering education and history. You can reach him at [email protected] or by phone at 717-218-0022.

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