CHAUTAUQUA - A substantial increase in 2014 Chautauqua County taxes, possibly 20 percent, was discussed by two county legislators at a recent Chautauqua Town Board meeting.
Fred Croscut, R-Sherman, and Vince Horrigan, R-Bemus Point, also gave updates on the possible sale of the Chautauqua County Home to a private firm.
Regarding the county budget, both men agreed the recently approved 2013 plan postponed an inevitable and likely substantial tax increase to 2014.
"We're facing a major deficit next year," Croscut said.
"Our challenge is going to be next year with the county," Horrigan said.
"It just comes out that next (budget) year, we're facing a 20 percent tax increase," Croscut said.
He explained early estimates of a $13 to14 million revenue shortfall means sharp tax increases if nothing changes.
Croscut also told the board he believes there are not presently 17 votes, the necessary super majority of the legislature, to approve the sale of the county home. This concurs with a straw poll taken this summer by the OBSERVER, which showed only 15 legislators in favor of the sale.
Horrigan did not offer an opinion on the vote outcome, but said the proposed sale "is a north-south issue." Legislators in districts near the home oppose the sale as do labor unions, which represent employees.
Croscut has made clear he favors the sale, but doubts the county will save the $3 million annually that has been mentioned by some legislators who also want to sell the home.
Both men said they expect a definite purchase offer will be available in December and expect a "cash deal," according to Croscut. A purchase not on credit means the new operator could not easily walk away from the home, Croscut said.
The prospective buyer, Altitude Health Services, has offered a tour of its recently purchased nursing home in Lincoln, Neb., according to Croscut. Altitude claims the Lincoln facility, formerly public, has been improved since the sale and has cited local newspaper reports to that effect.
During the board's business session, board member Jim Kurtz said the ad-hoc committee on preliminary planning of a 34-acre town park will make a presentation at the board's Dec. 10 meeting. The park will be located behind the town's office building, the former Mayville Central School.
The board approved a public hearing on a new local law to amend the town's zoning code by adding a definition of children's play houses. Play houses would be limited to no more than 120 square feet of floor space, walls no higher than six feet and only for use by children if the law is approved. The hearing is scheduled during the Dec. 10 board session.