Special meeting on County Home Oct. 9

MAYVILLE – Legislators are preparing to question a second potential purchaser for the Chautauqua County Home.

Jay Gould, legislature chairman, has called for a special meeting on Oct. 9 to have a further presentation, and a question-and-answer session, with representatives of VestraCare, who were introduced at the Aug. 28 County Legislature meeting.

“We’re having a special meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 9 at 6:30 for the legislators to be able to quiz the new potential purchasers of the County Home,” Gould said. “We’ll have another meeting later on in the month for a vote on the County Home. At that meeting, the public will be allowed to speak for three minutes, five minutes as normal. I feel like we have a buyer that wants to buy the county home, so we should act as soon as we can.”

According to a memo from Steve Abdella, county attorney, the purchase agreement with VestraCare includes property, including all of the land, buildings, gas well, personal property, and intangible property, which includes net accounts receivable of $1,299,424.78. According to Abdella, the agreement with Altitude Health Services – who was also questioned a year ago by the Chautauqua County Legislature – did not include transfer of accounts receivable, although the county would have expended resources for an indefinite period of time to collect such receivables.

Additionally, Abdella said the closing date is to occur within 30 days after the receipt by the purchaser of an approval letter and certificate of need from the NYS Department of Health, but no later than two years after County Legislature approval of the agreement. This is the same as the Altitude contract, except the two years runs from the legislative approval date instead of the contract signing date.

Like the agreement with Altitude, the purchase price for the County Home is set at $16.5 million. A total of $1.65 million was placed in an escrow account by VestraCare on Tuesday.

The purchase agreement also says VestraCare will interview all current employees who file an application and pass a basic background check prior to making offers of employment to any individuals who are not current employees. However, the purchaser is not obligated to hire current employees. Altitude had agreed to hire without pay cuts all union employees who filed an application and passed a basic background check as stipulated in the county’s April 2012 RFP. Although not required by the April 2012 RFP, Altitude had further agreed that such employees were to receive a benefit package similar to the existing benefits. Altitude had also agreed to pay and/or honor all accrued paid time off balances.

Abdella said VestraCare has agreed to give preferred admissions for county residents for open beds, and not accept an out-of-county resident if it will cause the number of county residents to decrease below 80 percent of the overall number of County Home residents. Additionally, the agreement says all current residents have the right to remain as long as there is a payment source for such residents. The county is entitled to a court injunction and/or specific performance for enforcement of these obligations. Altitude had the same agreement.

If the Chautauqua County Legislature does not approve the sale by Oct. 31, VestraCare has the right to terminate the agreement.

In order to sell the home, the supermajority of legislators must be in favor of the sale. The supermajority vote would require 17 legislators to vote in favor of selling. This stems from a local law dating back to 1975, which requires a two-thirds vote in order to sell real property owned by the county.

In January, when Altitude’s offer was on the table, only 16 legislators of the 25 were in favor of selling.

The 16 legislators who voted in favor of selling the home were: Larry Barmore, R-Gerry; George Borrello, R-Irving; Fred Croscut, R-Sherman; Paula DeJoy, D-Jamestown; Tom Erlandson, D-Frewsburg; John Hemmer, R-Westfield; David Himelein, R-Findley Lake; Vince Horrigan, R-Bemus Point; Victoria James, D-Jamestown; Charles Nazzaro, D-Jamestown; Rod Rogers, G-Forestville; John Runkle, R-Stockton; Robert Stewart, R-Ellington; Mark Tarbrake, R-Ellicott; Paul Wendel, R-Lakewood; and Gould.

Voting to keep the home were: Keith Ahlstrom, D-Dunkirk; Lori Cornell, D-Jamestown; William Coughlin, D-Fredonia; Thomas DeJoe, D-Brocton; Robert Duff, R-Sheridan; Shaun Heenan, D-Dunkirk; Timothy Hoyer, D-Jamestown; Bob Scudder, R-Fredonia; and Robert Whitney, D-Jamestown.