WATERLOO — Black Hawk County’s Country View nursing home is officially on the market.
The county Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 Tuesday to release a formal request for proposals from companies interested in buying the 168-bed nursing and mental health care facility on West Dunkerton Road.
A majority of the board members agreed to seek bids after Country View exhausted its cash reserves and began racking up a $2 million annual operating loss that required a county property tax subsidy.
Supervisor Chris Schwartz, who has pushed for the county to continue owning and operating the center, voted against the measure.
Several Country View employees, including two women circulating a petition against the sale, attended the board meeting but were not invited to speak.
While the county has hired national real estate broker Marcus & Millichap to handle the sale, the supervisors have the option to halt the process if they aren’t comfortable with the proposals.
Preliminary bids are due by May 11, with the final bid submission set for May 25.
Along with a minimum bid price of $5.5 million, those seeking to buy Country View are asked to submit information about their plans for the facility and information about other care centers they operate.
The request for proposals requires bidders to maintain it as a skilled nursing facility for a minimum of 10 years, while giving admission preference to Black Hawk County residents, allowing existing qualified residents to stay at Country View, and keeping at least 50 percent of the beds for Medicaid payees.
Supervisor Linda Laylin questioned whether the 10-year requirement might be too restrictive for bidders.
But Eric Johnson, an attorney representing the county in the sale process, said Marcus & Millichap officials did not believe that would dissuade potential buyers.
“Given what I think someone is going to pay for the facility, I can’t see them wanting to close it,” Johnson said. “It wouldn’t make sense.”
While the supervisors previously discussed including requirements for the retention and compensation of existing employees, the adopted bid forms do not include those terms.
“One of Black Hawk County’s priorities is to retain as many of the current Country View Care Center employees as possible,” the RFP states. “Proposals should address what protections or preferences, if any, would be provided with the jobs, salary levels and benefits for current employees in various positions, and for what periods of time.”
County officials have said Country View’s financial struggles are largely due to its large percentage of clients with mental health care needs and a large number of clients on Medicaid, which is not being fully funded by the state and federal government.
Marcus & Millichap representatives said Country View’s personnel costs, including benefits, far exceed those provided at other area nursing centers.