SUNBURY - Instead of continuing to make payments of $1.5 million per year through 2021, Complete Healthcare Resources (CHR) has decided to pay off the remaining $9.8 million it owes Northumberland County for the 2010 purchase of Mountain View: A Nursing and Rehabilitation Center.

County commissioners Stephen Bridy and Vinny Clausi approved a motion Tuesday to accept the remaining payment for the nursing home, which the county sold to CHR in January 2010 for $16.5 million.

Clausi said the closing date to receive the payoff is Feb. 27.

The commissioners did not say why CHR decided to make final payment on the sale.

Michael D'Arcangelo, chief executive officer for CHR, said later Tuesday, "The opportunity for refinancing was there and we thought it made sense at this time to pay off the sale."

CHR is headquartered in Willow Grove, near Philadelphia.

Clausi and Bridy said the money cannot be used for general fund purposes but must go to reducing the county's debt service.

The plan is to use the money to pay off a bond in September on which the county owes $10.5 million. Clausi said the expected payment this year on that bond of $650,000 will be added to the manor payoff to make up the difference in what is owed. At the same time, the $9.8 million will be invested in the interim to help earn interest.

Paying off the bond some eight years early will save the county approximately $1.4 million in interest payments over that time, Clausi said.

As for the manor, he said CHR had paid about $6 million so far. The $9.8 million payout would bring that total to about $15.8 million. The $700,000 difference from the original $16.5 million sale is a result of an annual property tax payment having been calculated into CHR's annual payment; the remaining years of those payments will be deducted from the payoff. However, the company will resume making property tax payments separately, Clausi said.

"We were blessed to be able to sell the manor because it was costing us more than $700,000 a year to operate due to ever-increasing government regulations," Clausi said later Tuesday. "We appreciate everything CHR has done for the county and we wish them the best of luck."

Commissioner Richard Shoch couldn't attend the meeting because of a family matter.

When the sale was announced in September 2009, the 271 skilled-bed nursing facility employed 242 county workers and approximately 10 CHR employees. Clausi and then-commissioners Kurt Masser and Frank Sawicki agreed to use the proceeds from the sale to reduce the long-term debt service a minimum of 50 percent for 2010, which resulted in a tax decrease for county residents.

Prior to the sale, CHR had managed the manor for 14 years. At the time, it was the 14th largest long-term health care company in the country with more than 50 facilities in Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Maryland and Texas that specialize in county nursing homes.

Northumberland County paid CHR approximately $550,000 per year to manage the nursing home and provide consulting services and other programs.

The sale called for the county to receive lease payments of $1.5 million per year over 11 years.

Other business

- The commissioners entered into a service agreement with attorney April Rivers at a total cost of $24,000 to work on appeal cases left over from former county president judge Robert B. Sacavage and new cases presided over by senior judges working in the county. Rivers was Sacavage's law clerk before he retired in January.

- The commissioners passed a resolution approving a $29,253 grant awarded to Marion Heights Joint Municipal Authority that will be used to assist in the construction of a belt press and related structural, electrical and environmental modifications.

- Bridy and Clausi granted approval to controller Christopher Grayson to consult with Klacik & Associates of Shamokin on an as-needed basis to help close out the financial books by the end of the fiscal year (June 30) in light of the resignation of budget director Jeff McClintock, which becomes effective at the end of the month.