MAYVILLE – It’s going to be a busy night at the County Seat in Mayville as the Chautauqua County Legislature holds its monthly voting session.
Topping the list of items on tonight’s agenda is a resolution to sell the Chautauqua County Home in Dunkirk to VestraCare for $16 million. Since January of 2013, the legislature has tried three times to sell the skilled nursing facility with little success. However, with a new legislature in place for 2014, supporters of privatizing the county home seem confident that there will be enough votes tonight for the sale to go forward.
Earlier this month, legislators spent nearly an hour-and-a-half questioning VestraCare vice president Edward Farbenblum and administrator Shannon Cayea-Delker to learn more about their operation and what the future holds for the skilled nursing facility in Dunkirk, should a purchase take place.
During his Feb. 5 presentation, Farbenblum assured lawmakers that he takes a hands-on approach to running his facilities and if any issues or problems were to come up following the sale, he could be directly contacted by lawmakers. “My absolute promise to you is that the buck stops here. If you’re a county legislature in this county you’ll have my cell phone number and you’ll have Shannon’s cell phone number and if you have a problem you can call one of us.”
Not all lawmakers are in favor of the sale. While 13 of the 19 members need to approve it, five are expected to vote against the sale. They are North County legislators Keith Alhstrom, Shaun Heenan, Janet Keith, Terry Neibel and Bob Scudder. Also, at least one news outlet is reporting that Legislator Chairman Jay Gould is ill and will most likely miss tonight’s meeting. Meaning that if one other legislator votes against the sale or is unable to attend, it will not go forward.
The selling of the county home has been a contentious issue with lawmakers since it was first proposed by former County Executive Greg Edwards in 2011. Proponents say selling the home will remove unnecessary costs in county government, while opponents of the sale say privatization will reduce the quality of care for the resident at the Dunkirk-based facility.
Tonight’s meeting begins at 6:30 in the legislative chambers in Mayville. It will be open to the public and any resident or group wishing to speak out on the matter will be allowed to do so at the beginning of the meeting.