MAYVILLE – The Ad hoc committee charged with reviewing a recent study on the Chautauqua County Home in Dunkirk and presenting recommendations on the future of the home to the legislature plans to meet again in the next couple of weeks. That’s according to the committee chairman, legislator John Runkle (R-Cassdadaga). Runkle, along with the entire Chautauqua County Legislature and members of the Ad hoc committee were presented last week with a report from the Center for Governmental Research – delivered by Don Pryor. The 132-page report offers two choices in dealing with the home. They are to either sell the county home to a reputable buyer or to find ways to reduce operating costs.
Runkle said members of his committee have been charged with reading the entire report before getting together to discuss possible recommendations. “We agreed to meet probably in another few weeks after they have time to digest the study, and obviously we have a long study – over 130 pages. And at that point we’re going to sit down and discuss the specifics of the study in terms of cost savings and whether or not it is practical to do that. Obviously the ultimate goal of our committee is going to be to indicate a number of cost savings measures and make the recommendations to the legislature.”
Runkle adds that he feels there probably aren’t going to be enough votes in the legislature at this time to sell the home. As a result, the recommendations his committee will be putting forward will most likely involving cost-saving measures.
In addition, Runkle says that even if the county were to sell the home, it wouldn’t yield nearly as much as the $16 million windfall projected from selling to the a private home, mostly because of what he calls “Legacy Costs.”
“Proponents of the plan [to sell the home] suggest that we’re going to make $16 million on the deal,” Runkle says. “If you look at these legacy costs – bond notes that we have to pay off, workman’s comp and the rest of it – it turns out that the profit the profit we are probably going to gleam as a result of this is $1 million.”
The county would need to find almost $2.3 million a year in savings in order to continue operating the county home and keep it financially afloat. The savings would most likely come by way of limits on salary and benefit increases for County Home workers. Other saving measures include not filling positions when they are vacated as well as implementing electronic medical record keeping and activating a gas well on the property.
Last week’s report from the Center for Governmental Research also included a review of two offers the county has received on purchasing the home. Last month, county officials learned that Absolute Care Facilities Management, LLC – based in East Aurora – and Altitude Health Services, Inc. of Chicago have each placed a bid for the county home through the marketing firm Marcus and Millichap. In delivering the report, Pryor expressed concerns regarding the offers, saying there was a lack of detailed financial strategies and incomplete questions from both bidders.
Runkle says he doesn’t believe any recommendations will be coming forward in time for the County Legislature’s next voting session on September 26.
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