BEMUS POINT - Chautauqua County Legislator Vince Horrigan supports the sale of the county home, and the Ellery Town Board is standing behind him.
Recently, Horrigan spoke during a public comment session at the town of Ellery board meeting. During the session, Horrigan talked about the county home and the research which he has been conducting on it.
"I've made my position pretty clear (on the home)," said Horrigan. "It's an ongoing debate. There will be a final contract that we can look at soon, so we'll start to see some activity on the home soon, one way or the other."
At one point, Craig Miller, town board member, asked Horrigan if the county legislature can only vote to sell the home if an offer for the purchase of the home is made first.
"There is a prefiled resolution right now, whether that gets sent to the legislature or not is yet to be determined," said Horrigan. "(The resolution) says, 'intent to sell the home to a qualified buyer.' That's one (stipulation). The other is the approval of a contract to sell to William Rothner. So there's really two, and the problem has been that it's taken a while to negotiate this contract. Steve Abdella and Chad Wright are the chief negotiators on the contract, and it's continuing to take time. I think at this January legislature meeting, there will either be an approval to sell to a qualified buyer, or a sale to William Rothner. I can't tell you which one right now, because they're in a prefiled state, and committee meetings will start next week.
"Some will say, 'Well, I just don't like the buyer,'" continued Horrigan. "However, I've done a lot of research, and I'm comfortable with the buyer based on what he's done in Nebraska. But there are some that would say, 'I don't like his association with his father's business in Chicago.' I guess we'll just see how it goes."
Miller then asked if the legislature could vote to sell the home, but to not sell the home to Rothner. Horrigan's answer was "yes."
"I am more convinced than ever, for the taxpayers of Chautauqua County, we have got to move forward into a more fiscally responsible position," said Horrigan. "As you know, we have about 1,000 skilled nursing beds in the county, and of those beds, 75 percent are Medicare. So we have 750 Medicare beds out there that are doing just fine. In a county home, it's usually a little bit higher - around 85 percent. But Rothner's track record ... he is averaging the 75 percent Medicare beds. ... Part of the problem is that you need to have some private element of pay and rehab to make it financially viable. If you don't do that, and you have a traditional cost, the taxpayers are going to have to subsidize an amount to the tune of $3.2 million. We have many nursing homes in Chautauqua that are doing very well, as you know."
In saying the aforementioned, Horrigan touched upon a subject which many people in the county worry about: that Rothner will privatize the home and take away all Medicare beds. Horrigan stated that this will not happen, and that if Rothner does purchase the county home, he will meet the county average of keeping 75 percent of beds in the home Medicare beds.
After Horrigan was finished speaking, Miller spoke of his approval of Horrigan's research.
"I feel as a board member that our legislator that represents us is very passionate and has done quite an extensive study, and feels comfortable about voting to sell the home," said Miller. "I think it would be appropriate, as a board, to support that with a resolution - that we support his efforts to vote to sell the home."
Subsequently, a motion was made to pass such a resolution, and the Ellery Town Board unanimously passed the resolution.