OSSIPEE — Carroll County commissioners last week awarded a contract to study the feasibility of providing assisted living in Carroll County.
Commissioners have sought a study on the need for assisted living in the county since 2017. A public forum on aging, which attracted over 100 people, was held in April 2017 at the Gibson Center for Senior Services in North Conway.
In October, commissioners agreed to post a new request for proposal on the assisted living study. It was posted on the county’s website Oct. 16. Letters of interest were due back Nov. 8.
The commissioners wanted the consultant to determine whether affordable assisted living is needed, and if so:
• Where in the county such a facility should be located.
• How large the facility should be.
• What the financial implications are to the county, short and long term.
On Nov. 26, the commissioners voted 3-0 to give the contract to RS Consulting LLC of Whitefield for an amount not to exceed $25,000.
The other company to apply was Ground Floor Partners of Chicago.
“Thank you, commissioners,” said Mountain View Community Nursing Home Administrator Howie Chandler. “This starts or continues the process of at least evaluating the future needs of the county.”
Chairman Amanda Bevard (R-Wolfeboro) thanked Chandler for his hard work on this for nearly the past three years.
It is the second time the county has considered doing business with RS Consulting, headed by Roxy Severance. The other time was in February 2018, when the board consisted of Bevard, Mark Hounsell and David Babson. Terry McCarthy was since elected to replace Hounsell, who was strongly in favor of the study.
In 2018, the county had only $10,000 to spend and would have had to vote to hire the consultant and then dig up grants to fund the rest of the study. The board ultimately decided not to move forward with hiring Severance.
“I wasn’t really pleased with the way RLS or whatever her name is handled the last one, but I’m more skeptical about giving someone a contract to someone in Cook County, Illinois,” said Babson (R-Ossipee).
McCarthy (R-Conway) agreed that she was also skeptical of hiring a company from Illinois.
McCarthy said RS was outsourcing some of the work to subcontractors in Texas and Vermont, but Chandler said the work that those companies were doing could be done from anywhere because it involves examining census data.
Bevard asked why they didn’t get more bidders, and Chandler replied that the commissioners didn’t have a big enough budget. He said one company told him they would need $65,000 to do the work.
The study is supposed to be completed 90 days after the notice of proposal award. The consultant is expected to meet with the commissioners twice.
Commissioners discussed the request for proposal with Chandler at their Oct. 9 meeting.
“The next step is to ask the big question: Is something needed, should we be doing it, where and what might it look like,” said Chandler, adding the study could ultimately determine there’s no market and no reason to do anything.
“We all assume that there is, but we all know about assumptions, so we have to test that assumption,” he said.
Chandler in October, told the Sun the RFP was advertised through the county website, as well as the New Hampshire Construction News & Information, New Hampshire Municipal Association and direct solicitation to at least six known qualified potential applicants.
One issue with having a county assisted-living facility is the cost to taxpayers would depend on the number of Medicaid recipients living there. The higher percentage of Medicaid residents, the more taxpayer subsidy it would require.
Back in February 2018, when commissioners decided not to go forward with RS Consulting, the study was a source of contention between the commissioners and the former delegation of state legislators, who refused to release funding for the study.
But many of those legislators lost their seats during the “blue wave” last November that swept many Republicans out of office, replacing them with Democrats. In state House Districts 1, 2 and 3, all the Republican incumbents were voted out.