MAYVILLE - Sale of the Chautauqua County Home to a private operator could be approved by the necessary 17 votes when the Chautauqua County Legislature meets Wednesday, Feb. 27, after failing to gain approval just a month ago, according to Legislator Fred Croscut, R-Sherman.
"We feel the county-wide support for the sale of the home is out there," Croscut said during the public comment portion of the Monday, Feb. 11 Town of Chautauqua Council meeting.
Croscut also revealed what he termed a "bipartisan" majority of the legislature is ready to overturn the 1975 local law requiring a so-called supermajority vote of legislators to sell the county home. Seventeen votes constitutes the necessary supermajority in the present legislature, and in January just 16 members voted to sell the facility to Altitude Health Services owned by William Avi Rothner for $16.5 million.
Photo by Dave O’Connor
Chautauqua County Legislator Fred Croscut (R-Sherman), standing, announces a motion to sell the Chautauqua County Home will likely be reconsidered at the legislature’s Wednesday, Feb. 27, session. The effort to sell the facility failed by one vote last month. Croscut made the announcement at the start of the Town of Chautauqua Council meeting Monday, Feb. 11. Seated, from left to right, are: town attorney Joel Seachrist; and Highway Superintendent Tim Wendell.
Croscut said he would be "reluctant" to dump the super majority requirement, and added a motion to do so at the March meeting only would come if the sale of the home is not okayed at the legislature's Feb. 27, session.
Interviewed after the town council meeting, Croscut said he believes the sale now has at least the necessary 17 votes, and cited constituent feedback as the primary reason a legislator or two may change their January no vote to yes.
Croscut said if the sale is approved either by a supermajority, or a regular majority if the 1975 local law is dumped, a voter referendum next November is virtually certain. He fully expects the six legislators who are on record as unalterably opposed to selling to Altitude would successfully petition for the referendum.
In addition to negative constituent reaction to last month's vote, Croscut claimed other developments are influencing legislators - research showing "Rothner is a good individual" and the fact that 35 solicitations of interest resulted in only two purchase offers.
"Lots of things are going on," Croscut said, but was only specific about voter reaction, new favorable information about Altitude's management of other properties and the apparent lack of buyer's interest.
If the home is again placed on the market, Croscut believes Altitude might lower its bid.
Croscut said notice of a motion to reconsider the sale of the county home will be pre-filed this week and such a motion would need only a majority vote to be placed on the floor for debate and a vote at the February session. Approval of a contract to sell would still require 17 votes, however.
"No one will lose a job," if the home is sold, Croscut said.
He also claimed a video made by opponents of the sale is "one-sided" and cited what he termed "an out of context and incomplete quote by Vince Horrigan (R-Bemus Point)." Horrigan is on vacation and was not available for comment.
Closing of the sale, if approved, will not take place for 12 to 18 months, Croscut estimated. While the facility loses about $8,000 a day, Croscut during the post-meeting interview said "IGT (Inter-Governmental Transfer) monies have been provided to keep the home solvent until June 2014."