MAYVILLE - A simple majority in the County Legislature will be enough to begin contract negotiations for the sale of the Chautauqua County Home.
Lawmakers on Thursday during a special legislative session will review legislation authorizing County Executive Greg Edwards to begin formal talks with Altitude Health Services Inc. The Evanston, Ill. group offered $16.5 million in cash for the 216-bed skilled nursing facility in Dunkirk.
Because the resolution - which will be discussed in committees this week - does not include selling county property, a simple majority will be enough for approval. Selling any county-owned property requires a two-thirds, supermajority vote.
"You have to know who you are selling to and what for," said Legislature Chairman Jay Gould, R-Ashville, recently. Gould said he expects there is enough votes in the legislature to pass the legislation.
A recent straw poll by the OBSERVER showed 14 legislators were in favor of privatizing the County Home; 13 votes will be needed Thursday to allow Edwards to begin negotiation of a contract of sale.
"Altitude Health is still very committed to the facility if they are given a chance," said Mark Myers, senior vice president of Marcus and Millichap - the group that marketed the County Home.
Myers pointed out that Altitude Health just recently completed a $2.5 million dollar renovation project on its Lancaster Manor nursing home, located in Lincoln, Neb. "They run a very good operation," he said.
Once a contract is drawn up, the legislature will likely vote in November for its approval. Since the contract would include the sale of the County Home, a supermajority (17 votes) would be needed at that time.
"Our due diligence has not yet been done," the county executive said. "We need to have that willingness to go forward."
Legislators who said they would vote to sell the County Home include Gould, R-Ashville; Majority Leader Larry Barmore, R-Gerry; George Borrello, R-Irving; Fred Croscut, R-Sherman; John Hemmer, R-Westfield; Vince Horrigan, R-Bemus Point; Chuck Nazzaro, D-Jamestown; and Mark Tarbrake, R-Ellicott.
Other lawmakers currently approving the sale include PJ Wendel, R-Lakewood; Vickye James, D-Jamestown; Robert Stewart, R-Ellington; David Himelein, R-Findley Lake; Tom Erlandson, D-Frewsburg; and Paula DeJoy, D-Jamestown.
Those who said they would not vote to sell include: Minority Leader Lori Cornell, D-Jamestown; Tom DeJoe, D-Brocton; Bob Whitney, D-Jamestown; Tim Hoyer, D-Jamestown; and Bob Duff, R-Sheridan.
Avi Rothner of Altitude Health could not be reached for comment Monday on possible contract negotiations with Edwards.
The legislature will meet for its special meeting Thursday in the Gerace Office Building in Mayville at 6:30 p.m.