Legislators ready to question VestraCare

MAYVILLE – When it comes to questioning the latest potential purchasers of the Chautauqua County Home, the public will have no input tonight.

A special meeting of the Chautauqua County Legislature was called for 6:30 p.m. today 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.

Legislative Chairman Jay Gould, R-Ashville, said because the special meeting is a work session, not a full legislature meeting, the public will not be invited to speak. However, he said there will be two committee meetings and a legislature meeting in the future where the public will be invited to speak.

“I’m not saying no, but I’m afraid that if I get a couple hours of public speaking, then all the legislators can’t get all the questions they need,” Gould said.

Following the announcement of the special meeting, legislators were provided with a copy of the county’s agreement with VestraCare.

Additionally, Steve Abdella, county attorney, provided legislators with a memo highlighting important points of the agreement, as well as how the agreement compared to the previous agreement the county had with Altitude Health Services, which the county opted not to sell to in January.

“This deal isn’t quite as good as the last one, and they’re going to get weaker and weaker. It wouldn’t surprise me if the next (offer) would be $14 or $13 million, because there are so many county homes for sale now,” Gould said. “(The Altitude Agreement) didn’t have accounts receivable in it. This one does. They’re going to get weaker and weaker.”

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.