MAYVILLE Chautauqua County Legislators may be waiting until January to cast their final vote regarding the sale of the Chautauqua County Home.
According to Chautauqua County Executive Greg Edwards, the proposal for the sale is currently being reviewed by purchaser (William) Avi Rothner and his lawyer. Because the proposal is still being reviewed, the county was not able to submit it to legislators to be reviewed at committee meetings occurring this week.
"(County Attorney) Steve Abdella was in contact with the legislature to let them know the status, and indicated and, I certainly concur because I'm working with them that as soon as we have it, we'll get it to the legislature," Edwards said.
Edwards said there is hope that the proposal could be ready for legislators to review prior to the Dec. 19 County Legislature meeting, but it appears the review and debate will indeed be delayed.
"We're hoping to get it to them before their legislature meeting, but it appears that the review and debate on the contract will be put off until January, only because it's taken as some contracts do additional time to get negotiated," Edwards said. "(There is) no problem with the negotiation, just that it is a significant transaction, and the lawyers want to be sure it's right."
If the vote is pushed off until the January legislature meeting, Edwards said it will allow legislators additional time to look over the terms of the contract. Additionally, legislators would have more time to speak with Abdella if they have questions regarding wording of the proposal.
"This will then expand the amount of time the legislators have to review the contract, so in that scenario, it should make it possible for them to have even more time to review it prior to the vote in January," Edwards said. "Steve Abdella is available and works very closely with the legislature. We will provide them with counsel and advice and interpretation. He has extensive experience and is the one doing the negotiating."
The debate on whether to sell the Chautauqua County Home has been a hot topic for legislators for more than a year and through two budget cycles. According to Edwards, the home loses $9,000 per day. In previous years, the home was able to cover losses by using its fund balance, though the County Home was only able to build up its fund balance using IGT funding, which are contributions from the county that are then matched by the federal government.
In December 2011, the legislature opted to support the firm Marcus & Millichap to market the County Home. The firm found Altitude Health Services Inc., owned by Rothner, as a potential buyer. Rothner offered $16.5 million to purchase the home.
Rothner spoke to the legislature at its October meeting, and answered questions posed by legislators. It was expected that legislators would be able to vote on the proposal to sell the home to Rothner this month.
In order to sell the County Home, two-thirds of the legislators votes would be required. The supermajority vote stems from a county local law dating back to 1975, which requires a two-thirds vote for sales of real property owned by Chautauqua County.