YAPHANK - The Suffolk County Legislature cleared the way toward a $36 million sale of the county John J. Foley Skilled Nursing Facility by giving tentative approval to the transaction last night.

The legislature voted 12 to 4 to approve the sale conditioned on an Appellate Division statement that a preliminary injunction currently in place does not bar the sale.

Officials say completion of the sale would give necessary funds into the county's 2011 budget, keeping the spending plan balanced and avoiding hundreds of layoffs and significant service cuts.

As part of the agreement to sell the nursing facility, Levy and legislative leaders agreed to set aside more than $3 million to provide transition aid for current nursing home workers and to ensure that current nursing home patients can remain at the facility.

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