MAYVILLE - For the second time in as many months, county lawmakers will convene a special meeting regarding the future of the Chautauqua County Home.
The legislature will hear today from Don Pryor of the Center for Governmental Research. An ad-hoc committee tapped the research group earlier this year to study the financial viability of the cash-strapped Dunkirk skilled nursing facility.
"I think it's extremely important that everybody is well informed on this issue," said John Runkle, R-Stockton. "Hopefully we can come up with some ideas to reduce costs."
Runkle said the 100-page report is expected to take an hour to present, and noted that members of the ad-hoc committee will meet with Pryor following the meeting.
No vote on the County Home will take place this week, contrary to some speculation.
"There is a rumor going around that we will be voting on this either Tuesday or at our regular meeting Wednesday," Runkle said. "Obviously this report is going to take some time to review."
The special meeting takes place a month after the marketing firm Marcus and Millichap announced two qualified offers on the County Home have been received. The offers are from Absolut Care Facilities Management, LLC and by Altitude Health Services Inc. Absolut Care, which operates two nursing facilities in Chautauqua County, submitted an offer of $1.6 million a year with a purchase option of $16 million.
See HOME, Page A3
Altitude Health, located near Chicago, offered $16.5 million in cash for the County Home.
Discussions today will likely focus on keeping the nursing facility solvent and out of the private sector. But options for privatizing the nursing home also will be discussed.
"Well I'm certainly hoping for some good news," said David Fagerstrom, CSEA Unit 6300 president. "Obviously we still feel the home needs to stay a public facility."
Fagerstrom in July replaced Rose Conti as the union leader for County Home workers.
As has been the case in recent months, CSEA workers will hold a rally outside the Gerace Office Building prior to the special session, according to Flo Tripi, CSEA Western Region president.
"Public nursing homes are a vital safety net in the community," Tripi said in a news release. "Chautauqua County cannot afford to lose this important gem. The nursing home needs to remain public so all county residents can receive long-term care regardless of their ability to pay or the complexity of their medical care."
County Executive Greg Edwards, meanwhile, has not strayed from his hard stance on the County Home. Edwards said he has not seen the report, but hopes lawmakers can come to an agreement sooner rather than later.
"Well I really do believe it's an important meeting for the legislature," the county executive told The Post-Journal. "I'm anxious and interested to see it."
Edwards would not comment directly when asked if he expected a vote on the County Home to come in September. A two-thirds supermajority of the legislature is needed to sell the facility.
"I think we do need to come to a decision," he said. "That would leave the county with a significant sum of money from those proceeds, well above the debts we have have on the facility."
The county executive plans to unveil a tentative budget during the legislature's September voting session. Drafts of the budget are currently being reviewed.