MAYVILLE – A Chicago-based company will not be buying the Chautauqua County Home any time in the near future. During last night’s monthly voting session, the county legislature voted against the sale of the 216-bed skilled nursing facility to Altitude Health Services, Inc. at a cost of $16.5 million.
The final vote was 16 for the sale and nine against, meaning it came just one vote short of the super-majority needed to make the sale final.
Prior to the vote, legislators spent more than 45 minutes discussing the sale. Among those in favor of selling the home was Legislator Vince Horrigan (R-Bemus Point), who said the sale would be a “triple win” for the county.
“Ladies and gentleman, this is not a win-lose. This is not a good-bad. This, in fact, is triple win. It is a win, if we approve this contract, where we protect the nursing home residents. Where we protect the jobs of county home employees. And where we protect the taxpayers.”
Majority Leader Larry Barmore (R-Gerry) was also in favor of the sale. He said that given the fact the County Home could be out of money by the middle of 2014, the legislature should approve the sale now because there might not be a county home to sell in the future.
“When the county home runs out of money the administrator is going to be forced to stop accepting new patients and form a plan for closure,” Barmore said. “Little by little, the patient numbers will decrease in the county home as we accept nobody new. The county home will be forced to close. We will no longer have a county home and we will lose everyone of those jobs.”
New Minority Leader Bob Whitney (D-Jamestown) was among those who voted against the sale, and gave a number of reasons for his vote.
“I’m voting ‘no’ because I don’t feel we’ve fully implemented the CGR report. I’m voting ‘no’ because I don’t think the sale’s price coming in 20 percent lower than what they projected is right. I’m voting ‘no’ because the contract [with Altitude Health Services] came out fast – it was given four days before committee. I’m voting ‘no’ because I don’t like the buyer. And I’m voting ‘no’ because I tried to get language in the contract about [Altitude Health Services] not being eligible for IDA money but that couldn’t be put in. For all these reasons, I’m voting ‘no,'” explained Whitney.
In addition to Whitney, the other legislators voting against the sale were Keith Ahlstrom (D-Dunkirk), Lori Cornell (D-Jamestown), William Coughlin (D-Fredonia), Tom DeJoe (D-Brocton), Bob Duff (R-Sheridan), Shaun Heenan (D-Dunkirk), Tim Hoyer (D-Jamestown) and Bob Scudder (R-Fredonia).
Although the legislature did not approve the sale of the home to Altitude Health Services, it did vote in favor of a follow-up resolution to sell the Chautauqua County Home, if the right conditions were in place. That resolution passed by a vote of 18 to 6.
The legislature also approved a resolution to appropriate $693,000 from the county’s fund balance as matching funding for the federal Intergovernmental Transfer program, which will be used to help keep the County Home operational.
WRFA will present more comments and reaction regarding the sale of the Chautauqua County Home during our Community Matters program, which airs Thursday night at 6 p.m. (and is rebroadcast Sunday at noon).