LAKEWOOD - The Lakewood Village Board has joined a growing list of municipalities supporting the sale of the Chautauqua County Home.
On Monday, the board unanimously passed a resolution to sell the county home to a private company so it is no longer a financial burden on taxpayers. Prior to the vote, David Wordelmann, Lakewood mayor, said even though the County Home is outside the jurisdiction of Lakewood officials, it is his responsibility as an elected official to weigh in on the subject for village taxpayers.
''The decision on whether to keep or sell the County Home should not be based on one's political party, but rather on its fiscal merit. The County Home has been bleeding red ink for years and will continue to do so for years to come,'' Wordelmann said. ''The legislature has a unique and possibly one time opportunity to sell the County Home and relieve the county taxpayers of this financial burden once and for all.''
Wordelmann said he could personally sympathize with what workers at the County Home are going through in regards to possible pay cuts or job loss because of what he experienced at his own job. Wordelmann is a Tops Friendly Markets store manager in Youngsville, Pa. He had worked for Quality Markets prior to Tops purchasing the business and shutting down the Lakewood location.
''I don't believe that government should be in the business of subsidizing jobs for the sake of creating or keeping jobs, especially when those jobs can and should be provided by the private sector,'' he said. ''We need not look any further locally than to the job that Lutheran Social Services, Heritage Village, Frewsburg Rest Home and many other private companies and facilities do to provide quality care to their residents to see that this type of service can be provided more effectively and efficiently by a private company.''
The resolution on the sale of the County Home comes after the board's last meeting Sept. 10 when P.J. Wendel, R-Lakewood, spoke to the board about the County Home. Wendel said the most fiscally responsible action to take is for the county to sell the facility. Wendel said, at best, the County Home stands to lose $500,000 a year, and that doesn't include what it costs annually to run the home. Wendel said people need to take politics out of the equation with respect to the subject. He suggested taxpayers should contact their legislators to voice their opinion on the matter.
Lakewood has joined a list of at least three other municipalities to pass a resolution supporting the sale of the County Home. Earlier this month the Ellicott Town Board voted unanimously on a resolution calling for county legislators to sell the Dunkirk skilled nursing facility. According to legislators Tom Erlandson, D-Frewsburg, and Larry Barmore, R-Gerry and legislature majority leader, the towns of Carroll and Kiantone have also passed resolutions supporting the sale of the County Home.