End-Around Move Was Not The Best Way To Sell County Home

The legislature in two attempts couldn’t sell the Chautauqua County Home the old fashion way. It also couldn’t sell it by doing an end-around of its own system.

So for the time being it appears taxpayers will have to be content with a nursing home that has perfected losing money – about $531,000, if one goes by County Executive Greg Edwards’ estimate of a $9,000 a day deficit in the facility. Two months into the new year, $531,000 wasted. Perhaps if we keep stating the home’s mounting losses, a few of the 10 legislators opposed to selling the home will see the light.

They were still in the dark as of Wednesday, when the legislature – by the same tally as January’s vote – again denied the sale of the Dunkirk skilled nursing facility to William “Avi” Rothner. The same three foolhardy Democratic lawmakers from Jamestown nixed any hope of a sale to go through.

So, in an attempt to sell the home through a back-door process, several legislators hoped to change a local law dating back to 1975. The law requires a supermajority vote to sell county owned property.

Had the vote passed, the County Home could have be sold in little as 60 days with just 13 votes.

The process should be described as nothing short of cold, calculated and downright manipulative. The end-around move – which failed on the legislature floor – would have been viewed as a desperate attempt to undermine the current system.

The resolution altering the local law was so toxic in nature that two of its own supporters jumped ship at the last second to save face. Paula DeJoy, D-Jamestown, cited the legislature’s support against the New York SAFE ACT in her reasoning to shun the proposed law change.

“I was originally supporting this local law. Then I heard some of my fellow legislators … complain and criticize Gov. Cuomo on how he went about passing the SAFE Act,” DeJoy said. “We are essentially doing the same by changing the rules of the game after the vote has already been taken.”

While we wholeheartedly back the sale of the County Home to Rothner, we would have been left with a bad taste in our mouth had the resolution passed.

However, this should not be viewed as a victory for those hoping to keep the nursing facility in the public sphere. You can line up as many County Home workers and friends at every legislature meeting to sing the same song and dance, but the fact remains the county will eventually have to sell the home.

We urge the legislature to keep its foot on the gas to seek a buyer. In our view, Rothner is a more than qualified owner, but we’re unsure at this point if 17 legislators will ever approve of him as a buyer.

Don’t forget – chances are good County Executive Greg Edwards can build a 2014 budget with no tax increase if the home is sold. Something needs to be done. The backs of taxpayers are growing weak.