JAMESTOWN – The issue of whether or not to sell the Chautauqua County Home to a Chicago-based company was once again in the spotlight, this time during a Critical Discussion Series at the James Prendergast Library. A panel of four Chautauqua County legislators were involved in the discussion. They were Larry Barmore (R-Gerry) and Vince Horrigan (R-Bemus Point) – who both support selling the home to William “Avi” Rothner of Altitude Health Services, LLC of Chicago – along with William Coughlin (D-Fredonia) and Lori Cornell (D-Jamestown) – who are opposed to selling the home.
The discussion allowed each panelist to offer their thoughts on the proposed sale of the home. Barmore explained that it simply isn’t cost effective to run the home anymore, considering it will be running in a significant deficit starting in 2014.
“The hard cold facts, as we move into 2014… including the IGT funding, the County Home will lose close to $9,000 per day,” Barmore said.
Barmore’s claim of the county home losing an estimated $9,000 per day was refuted by David Fagerstrom, president of the local CSEA that represents the county home employees. He said that number is way off, and doesn’t take into account a series of cost-saving adjustments that could be made at the home to get it back in the black.
County legislator Vince Horrigan echoed Barmore’s sentiment for selling the home, saying that if it is sold, it would result in the home being privatized and the addition of a significant property tax payment being added to local coffers.
“The future is not good,” Horrigan said. “Property tax revenues is what is continued to be turned to to keep [The County Home] afloat. Look at what’s happened up in the north county – Petri, Carriage House, NRG – are all businesses that are leaving us and those people are probably going to be laid off, but we’re going to go ask for more property taxes to keep the county home running when, in fact, here’s someone that can take a one-star county home rating – according to Medicare – and all indications are he’s going to move it to three or four star home.”
County lawmaker William Coughlin – who opposes selling the home – explained that the reason he’s not in support of a sale is because he doesn’t think Altitude Health Services is a good fit to purchase the home. In addition, he explained that the legislature hasn’t even made the decision to sell the home in the first place.
The questions that I present are two-fold,” Coughlin said. “Number one – do we want to sell the home? Do we have the votes necessary to sell the home and that is the first vote that should have been taken. Now if that goes and you are going to sell the home, do you want to sell it to William ‘Avi’ Rothner. It’s two separate issues.”
Several members of the public were on hand to ask questions and make comments regarding the sale to Altitude Health Services, with it split down the middle in terms of who was in favor and who was opposed.
The lawmakers say the sale will most likely come before the legislature during the February voting session.