Valley View

Why were we so misled about Valley View?

"My Turn" by Matt Turnbull, Orange County Legislator

Since receiving rave reviews from its outside auditors, there has been renewed interest in Valley View, and I would like to add some historical facts to the conversation. 

The profit was predicted and our Democratic Caucus led the charge. The story of the Valley View turnaround started in the summer of 2012, when Roxanne Donnery contacted me and described her plan to form an investigatory committee. I was asked to approach legislators to sign a petition to form committees that would investigate Valley View as well as the Orange County Government Center.

To his credit, Republican Chairman Pillmeier assisted in forming both committees and work commenced shortly afterwards. The work performed by the Valley View committee created a basis to keep Valley View in county hands and to replace William Pascocello as manager of Valley View. Donnery chaired the committee. Also on the committee were Michael Anagnostakis, Michael Amo and Tom Pahucki. I was a member of the government center committee but also attended the Valley View Committee sessions, and I remembered thinking that the testimonies could only result in better things for Valley View. 

I wasn’t surprised when the turnaround began immediately after the ousting of William Pascocello and the hiring of Lawrence LaDue. And although I wasn’t surprised that Valley View was improving, I was shocked at the rate that it was improving. The typical business formula for success was called for — increase revenue and decrease expenses, market the product, etc. All recommendations and goals were put forth in writing, by the committee, after hearing testimonies regarding intended mismanagement of the facility. The solution was identified and corrections were implemented immediately through a blueprint presented to LaDue on Day One.

Still, eliminating a $15 million deficit in just three years is quite a feat. Even the auditors are amazed. I remember one saying, “We’ve never seen anything like this before." The glaring accusation that in an effort to make the case for the sale of Valley View, Pascocello did little to increase revenues or decrease expenses, is more apparent today than ever.

Was this a tactic that some in power allowed? I often get the feeling that I am not privy to what occurs in the back rooms. The current administration insisted that we needed to sell Valley View to balance the budget. Well, it seems that, again, we were misled and the big question remains. Why?

Whether it is Valley View, the Quarry lands, Camp LaGuardia, The Orange County Airport, or the two county-owned golf courses, there should be a Trump Wall between government and corporate interests. Big business should not control government services. All activities between the two should be in the light of day.

Democrats fought hard to keep Valley View county-owned and -run and continues to fight to keep corporate interests out of government services. With the exception of Michael Anagnostakis, the two attempts to sell Valley View were by the Republicans. If it had not been for the presence of Roxanne Donnery and her enormous commitment to saving Valley View, my guess is it would have been gone long ago. 

Orange County Legislator Matt Turnbull (D) represents the Town of Blooming Grove, Village of Washingtonville, Hamptonburgh and New Windsor.

Related story:

"Valley View confounds critics and turns in a surplus":

Times Herald-Record, July 18, 2016

Editorial: Valley View answer raises old questions

The Valley View nursing home turned a profit last year.
That bears repeating.  
The Valley View nursing home turned a profit last year.
And it also bears repeating as an accomplishment because as it turns out, this was not that hard.
All Orange County had to do was put someone in charge of the home who would collect the money that was owed. Those on the county Legislature who bothered to study the figures said long ago that Valley View was leaving money uncollected.
Those who wanted to buy the home had the same advice. When they came to testify, they told the same story that legislators had tried in vain to get the previous and present county executive to understand.
If the county had billed for all of the payments it was due and collected on all of them, it would have had a lot more money coming in. If it had run the home efficiently, the way that those who wanted to buy the home said they would, then the county would have been able to cut expenses.
Put those together and you have the fiscal picture we have today, a nursing home that provides excellent care for local residents who need it, an important part of county government that provides hundreds of jobs at the same time it provides a needed and appreciated service to the people of Orange County.
So why did the present and previous county administrations not understand this? Why did they not collect the money the county was owed?
Isn’t that their job?
Why did they hire managers who did not or could not or would not run the home with the efficiency that now has turned Valley View from a divisive crisis into an asset, a county-run nursing home that stands as a model others could follow if they wanted to?
Valley View was a potent political weapon for Ed Diana when he was county executive and for Steve Neuhaus when he took over. Both threw out scary figures that would decimate the county’s ability to provide other services, that would ruin the county’s credit rating and that would be solved one way and one way only — by selling Valley View or, failing that, by closing it.
While this was merely a political talking point for many, it was a serious personal concern for others. Those who were being cared for in the home feared they would be thrown out, abandoned to find another place most likely very far from their homes, friends and family. It was a serious threat to hundreds of workers, the single largest part of the county work force, people who had spent years providing good service in good faith only to be betrayed by the people they should have been able to count on.
There are only two possibilities. Either Diana and Neuhaus did not understand how to run the nursing home or they chose to run it down so they could sell it.
They can answer if they want, but the real answer is already in.
The Valley View nursing home turned a profit last year.
That bears repeating.

EDITORIAL:   Cost and credibility down at Valley View

Times Herald-Record, posted Jan. 31, 2015 @ 3:27 pm 

The Valley View story is not only about quality care and taxpayer costs. It’s about credibility. People in Orange County need to know they can trust the bottom line and those who make the calculations.

This week brought another spreadsheet, another set of numbers accompanied by another round of explanation and interpretation. The numbers themselves are important, but even more important is the talk surrounding them.

Legislators received figures that show the cost of operating Valley View has continued to decline while the revenue collected to operate the facility has continued to increase. Add them together and the annual taxpayer cost to keep the facility open is about $2.7 million according to Legislator Mike Anagnostakis, chairman of the committee that oversees Valley View.

We already know that should the county sell Valley View it will have to pay at least $5 million a year in retirement and other benefits for the workers who no longer would be county employees.

So it now will cost more to close or sell Valley View than it will to keep it open in county hands.

That would qualify as good news for most people. For the present county administration, dedicated as much as the previous one to selling Valley View no matter what the consequences, it’s very bad news. So the county executive sent out the new finance commissioner to make the only valid point available. These are not audited figures, so we have to wait a few more months to reach any conclusion. In the past, the audited figures have been very close to the ones first given to legislators, so this delay is not likely to make much of a difference in the debate.

In the meantime, there is a lot to catch up on.

Start with a key figure that anybody who has been following this saga watches closely — the annual federal payment known as the intergovernmental transfer. The previous administration kept saying that you could not count on getting it every year so you could not anticipate it the way you did all the other dollars. You had to wait until you deposited the check.

In this cycle, the county anticipated receiving $5.7 million and got $8.9 million instead. The feds keep sending the checks and the county keeps cashing them. That, too, would qualify as good news for anybody hoping to balance the books.

And then there’s the mystery of something called the fund balance, a Valley View account that had as much as $16 million in it a few years ago. Since then, legislators and reporters have had trouble getting the county to disclose just how much is in that account, how much has gone in and out and what the plans are for the money.

If the new finance commissioner wants to establish credibility among the people whose taxes pay her salary, she will make sure that when the final audited figures for Valley View are available in the next few months, she will also reveal all the other relevant figures in all of the other funds that legislators and reporters have asked for. It is our money, after all.




There is not too much more to be said about the shameful transfer of Valley View Nursing Home to the Local Development Corporation.  It was unnecessary and unwise and was one of the biggest betrayals of the public trust ever seen, given the last campaign. 

We need to follow the developments as best we can although the abdication of responsibility by the County leaves little recourse.  Should the lawsuit prove successful in proving that a two-thirds vote was required for the transfer and/or that a local law, not a resolution, was necessary, we will have options.  If a two-thirds vote is required, our caucus could then block the transfer.  If a local law by majority vote is required, the local law would be subject to a permissive referendum.  But as of now, our hands are tied. 

- Jonathan Jacobson,  Chair, Orange Co. Democratic Committee Bulletin, May 2014


- June 17, 2014:  NY State Supreme Court Justice Elaine Slobod ruled that the Legislature's 12-9 vote in April to cede control of Valley View to a local development corporation was void because a 14-vote super-majority was needed.  Her ruling derails the sale attempt and puts the home back in County hands.

 - June 24, 2014:  A second suit is filed to halt the Valley View sale as unions seek to invalidate the April vote.

Courtesy of the Times Herald-Record ;  see complete Timeline and link to details below 



Valley View Center for Nursing Care:  THE TIMELINE


-Oct. 3, 2011:   Orange County Executive Ed Diana proposes to fund the Valley View Center for Nursing Care and Rehabilitation for only six months of 2012.  His proposal would set the 360-bed nursing home on a course for either closure or sale by July. 

Oct. 4, 2011:   The Legislature's Health and Mental Health Committee holds a public hearing on a consultant's report about Valley View, now entirely overshadowed by the prospect of being defunded. Valley View employees, residents and supporters deliver emotional pleas to keep the home in public hands. 

Nov. 9, 2011:   A surprised audience cheers with relief after Michael Amo, chairman of the Health and Mental Health Committee, votes against Diana's Valley View budget, which goes down to defeat in a 4-3 vote. 

Nov. 14, 2011:   Amo's committee votes again and approves Diana's proposal — after three members leave the table in protest. Thus begins a six-hour series of meetings that culminates in the Legislature voting 19-2 to add $9 million to Valley View's budget so it can operate for a full year. 

Dec. 1, 2011:   Diana vetoes the additional funding, calling it fiscally unsound. 

Dec. 14, 2011:   Legislature upholds Diana's veto, allowing funding for just six more months for Valley View.

March 19, 2012:   March 19, 2012: Orange County formally puts the nursing home on the market, demanding at least $18 million and a guarantee that services will stay the same for at least five years once the 360-bed facility is in private hands.  Four bidders eventually emerge.

July 3, 2012:   County lawmakers approve $6.7 million in funding to keep Valley View open through the end of 2012. 

July-August 2012:   A special committee gathers information and testimony on the cost and operations of Valley View.  Diana and key Valley View administrators defy subpoenas calling on them to appear. 

September 5, 2012:   Legislature releases finds in the Valley View Report. 

October 2012:   County Executive Ed Diana submits to the state Department of Health a plan to close Valley View. 

November 2012:   Members of the Orange County Legislature approve funding for Valley View through 2013.  Diana vetoes the plan, but the Legislature overrides the veto, keeping the tax rate originally proposed in Diana's one-month budget for the home. 

January 18, 2013:   Legislature sues Diana to uphold changes to the executive's 2013 budget plan.  Diana attempted to fund Valley View for one month; the Legislature sought a full year of funding. 

February 6, 2013:   The NY State Department of Health approves the county plan to close Valley View 

March 21, 2013:   A judge rules that Valley View must be funded for a full year, backing the Legislature, and said Diana had no authority to close Valley View. 

July 23, 2013:   Report on faulty air conditioning at Valley View during a heat wave. 

October 1, 2013:   Diana proposes in his 2014 budget plan to fund Valley View for four months. 

November 13, 2014:   Legislature unanimously approves funding for Valley View through entirety of 2014, completely pushing aside Diana's request for four months of funding. 

March 14, 2014:   As Orange County sees dip in bond rating, new County Executive Steve Neuhaus and legislative members propose new plan for selling Valley View to private buyer. 

April 9, 2014:   Legislature votes to transfer Valley View to a Local Development Corporation, although opposition to this move is high within the County.  Attorney Michael Sussman vows to fight the transfer attempt, and files a lawsuit against the County. 

May 2014:   New Valley View board begins soliciting offers from buyers. 

June 17, 2014:  NY State Supreme Court Justice Elaine Slobod ruled that the Legislature's 12-9 vote in April to cede control of Valley View to a local development corporation was void because a 14-vote supermajority was needed.  Her ruling derails the sale attempt and putting the home back in County hands.

 - June 24, 2014:  A second suit is filed to halt the Valley View sale as unions seek to invalidate the April vote.


Timeline courtesy of the Times Herald-Record;  details at






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  • David Lindsay
    commented 2018-01-08 16:45:58 -0500
    This page needs to be updated with current information