MAYVILLE – The Chautauqua County Nursing Home is still in the county’s hands.
Legislators voted Wednesday night not to sell the home, which County Executive Greg Edwards said loses $9,000 per day, to potential purchaser William (Avi) Rothner of Altitude Health Services. Although 16 legislators voted to sell the home to Rothner, it was not enough for the supermajority vote.
The supermajority vote would require 17 legislators to vote in favor of selling. This stems from a local law dating back to 1975, which requires a two-thirds vote in order to sell real property owned by the county.
Several legislators spoke on both sides of the issue in a discussion that lasted more than an hour. Two legislators who have been very vocal on their feelings on the County Home over the last several months were Lori Cornell, D-Jamestown, and Vince Horrigan, R-Bemus Point.
“Just because Marcus & Millichap gave us a poor choice doesn’t mean we can’t go out and do our homework and get a better one,” Cornell said, after sharing a story about her grandmother, who was a County Home resident.
On the other hand, Horrigan voiced his concern over the cost of the home to county taxpayers.
“The Chautauqua County Home continues to lose money, requiring taxpayer funds to the tune of $3.2 million, or $9,000 a day of taxpayer subsidies,” he said.
George Borrello, R-Irving, and Larry Barmore, R-Gerry, each voted in favor of selling the home. Each of them spoke, expressing confidence in Rothner.
However, others who spoke were not convinced that Rothner would be the best choice.
“I’m voting ‘no’ because I don’t feel we fully implemented the CGR report,” said Robert Whitney, D-Jamestown. “I’m voting ‘no’ because the sale price is 40 percent lower than projected. I’m voting ‘no’ because the contract came up fast. I’m voting ‘no.’ I don’t like the buyer.”
The 16 legislators who voted in favor of selling the home were: Larry Barmore, R-Gerry; George Borrello, R-Irving; Fred Croscut, R-Sherman; Paula DeJoy, D-Jamestown; Tom Erlandson, D-Frewsburg; John Hemmer, R-Westfield; David Himelein, R-Findley Lake; Vince Horrigan, R-Bemus Point; Victoria James, D-Jamestown; Charles Nazzaro, D-Jamestown; Rod Rogers, G-Forestville; John Runkle, R-Stockton; Robert Stewart, R-Ellington; Mark Tarbrake, R-Ellicott; Paul Wendel, R-Lakewood; and legislative chairman Jay Gould, R-Ashville.
Voting to keep the home were: Keith Ahlstrom, D-Dunkirk; Lori Cornell, D-Jamestown; William Coughlin, D-Fredonia; Thomas DeJoe, D-Brocton; Robert Duff, R-Sheridan; Shaun Heenan, D-Dunkirk; Timothy Hoyer, D-Jamestown; Bob Scudder, R-Fredonia; and Robert Whitney, D-Jamestown.
VOTE TO SELL TO DIFFERENT PURCHASER
Following the failed resolution to sell to Altitude Health Services was a resolution of intent to sell the Chautauqua County Home. The resolution, which was brought up at the request of Barmore and Croscut, asked whether legislators would be willing to sell the home to a different purchaser. This resolution passed 18-6 in favor of selling the home to a different purchaser.
The six voting not to sell the home under any circumstance were Ahlstrom, Coughlin, DeJoe, Heenan, Hoyer and Scudder. Duff did not vote, as he left following the failed resolution to sell to Altitude Health Services.
“I’m very encouraged by tonight’s vote,” Edwards said following the meeting. “We had 16 legislators that analyzed this, looked at all the facts, did their due diligence and decided that they were in favor of selling the County Home to the only buyer we had.”
Edwards said he will continue to search for a different buyer for the County Home.
Also during the meeting, legislators voted in favor of amending the 2013 budget to include additional IGT matching funds for the home. $692,878 will be transferred out of the county’s fund balance in order to help fund the County Home, which will receive a total of $1,509,939 in county and federal funding.
“We’ll continue to work very hard to provide the best care we can out there and also provide the people of Chautauqua County the facts,” Edwards said. “The facts are, if the legislature hadn’t spent another $692,000 of taxpayer dollars tonight, your dollars, the County Home would have run out of money in June 2014. (It would have) flat-out run out of money. (We) would have had to borrow money to send to it to have it run.”