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Bid to sell Chautauqua County Home falls one vote short

MAYVILLE – Chautauqua County Legislators defeated a motion to sell the Chautauqua County Home at a special meeting Wednesday.

The motion failed by a single vote. Seventeen votes were needed, and the tally was 16 to 9 in favor of the deal.

The proposed sale has been talked about for more than a year with various buyers looking at the Dunkirk-based nursing home.

The offer was $16.5 million from a private company that recently bought a home in Ulster County, which also had been publicly owned.

All 25 legislators were present for the special meeting. Many of them face election next week.

The sale had the support from legislators from both parties throughout the county as well as County Executive Gregory Edwards, who is not seeking re-election.

Edwards said the sale would bring several million dollars to the bottom line of the county budget.

Union workers with bright green shirts conducted a protest against the sale of the home prior to the special meeting. Some current residents of the home also spoke at the meeting.

Joe Carrus, who identified himself as a resident, spoke at length, asking legislators not to sell the home. He claimed that not enough research was done on VestraCare, the parent company of prospective buyer Dunkirk Realty LLC.

The workers are represented by the Civil Service Employees Association. According to a presentation made in September, VestraCare would have to consider whether to maintain the union status for employees.

Several speakers questioned the sale and asked if the company would receive a tax break on the 30-acre site.

Todd Tranum, president of the Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce, spoke on behalf of the sale. “If you look at this from the framework of doing what is fiscally and financially responsible, it should not be that hard of a decision,” he said.

Tranum also talked about the loss of TLC Lake Shore Hospital and the difficulty of making the decision to close the facility and said that the county may have to close the home in the future.

Legislator Fred Croscut, R-Sherman, predicted that there will be another offer next year but that it would be less than the one that failed to win approval.