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.
County Home Vote
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.
Lori Cornell, D-Jamestown, weeps Wednesday evening while speaking about her grandmother who once resided at the County Home. Cornell was one of the nine legislators to vote against the sale of the home to William Rothner.
P-J photo by Liz Skoczylas
"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.
County Home Timeline
1995-2005 - The County Home receives $10.5 million in state IGT funding. Then, in 2006 and 2007, there was no IGT funding paid to the County Home.
2008-09 - State IGT funds were replaced by federal IGT funds. The county provided $2.1 million in IGT in 2008, and $1.9 million in 2009.
February 2009 - A Special Committee of the County Legislature to Review the Current Practices and Sustainability of the Chautauqua County Home is created.
July 2009 - The Legislature's sub-committee provides a report stating that the County Home is financially viable. However, continuing IGT funding is important to keeping the home running. The committee recommends keeping the home open for many years to come.
Fiscal Year 2010 - The County Home receives no IGT funding. The County Home runs at a deficit of $1,788,542.
October 2010 - IGT funding for the County Home becomes a topic for discussion among legislators while working on the 2011 budget. According to Chuck Nazzaro, D-Jamestown, who chaired the subcommittee, the County Home would be facing substantial losses for 2011 and 2012.
July and August 2011 - The county meets with marketing firms to move forward with privatizing the County Home.
September 2011 - The county published a request for proposals in newspapers, in an attempt to privatize the home.
October 2011 - The County Home is once again brought up by legislators during discussions on the 2012 budget. CSEA workers gather outside the Gerace Office Building before the legislature meeting in support of the County Home, with signs such as "Save Our County Home" and "Respect Your Elders."
November 2011 - The county chooses marketing firm Marcus & Millichap to assist in finding a purchases for the County Home.
February 2012 - The legislature lists seven requirements that potential purchasers must meet.
April 2012 - The County Home's financial officer tells the legislature's Audit and Control Committee that the home will run out of money by the middle of 2013.
July 2012 - The county discusses two qualified bids for the County Home. Absolut Care offered a $1.6 million-a-year lease on the home with an option to buy outright for $16 million. Altitude Health, out of Chicago, offered $16.5 million in cash for the Dunkirk skilled nursing facility.
August 2012 - A Center for Governmental Research report on options for the future of the Chautauqua County Nursing Home is presented to the legislature.
September 2012 - County Executive Greg Edwards releases his 2013 budget, which includes the sale of the Chautauqua County Nursing Home, although no formal vote to sell has been made.
October 2012 - Edwards is given the OK to begin contract negotiations with William (Avi) Rothner of Altitude Health Services. Rothner speaks to the legislature and answers questions. The legislature passes a 2013 budget which reflects a $250,000 reduction in funding to the County Home.
November 2012 - The CSEA sent a request to the county for negotiations. Negotiations continue between the county and Rothner.
January 2012 - Negotiations between the county and Rothner are finalized. Committees discuss the sale of the home to Rothner. Legislature votes.
"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."