MAYVILLE - The union representing Chautauqua County Home employees is taking a shot at County Executive Greg Edwards as the war of words over the home's sale continues.
In a news release, David Fagerstrom, CSEA Unit 6300 president, criticized Edwards for remarks made in recent postings of his popular Monday Morning Memo.
In particular, Fagerstrom questioned Edwards' hasty call to sell the Dunkirk skilled nursing facility just weeks after the legislature heard a financial viability report by the Center for Governmental Research.
The report, commissioned by an ad-hoc committee, outlined several cost-cutting measures.
"The county executive is once again pushing for a quick sale of the Chautauqua County Home without time for thorough review and without time for public comment," Fager-strom said. "What is he trying to hide? He is trying to push through a sale before residents and legislators can conclude that the public home is a vital, essential facility that provides quality care to all county residents regardless of ability to pay or complexity of care."
CSEA has been at an impasse with the county surrounding a new labor contract.
In a memo released last week, the county executive urged residents to contact their legislators and express support for selling the home.
"To ensure the future of the Chautauqua County Home and that it remains open for all of us, I urge you to get the facts, look at the long-term picture, and voice your opinion in favor of the sale or lease of the County Home to a private entity," he said.
Edwards then encouraged active participation in several upcoming meetings in Mayville, but later scaled back that request - noting residents should contact their representatives directly rather than during meetings.
Edwards has noted that the report is identical to one the legislature received three years ago, and said without concessions by the union, the county would be forced to front taxpayer money to keep the home solvent. The county has allocated $6.6 million in the last five years to match a federal grant - which has netted the County Home $14.9 million.
Without the county and federal subsidy, the Dunkirk facility would have run massive deficits during that time; with the boost, however, the home has posted modest surpluses.
In a recent straw poll by the OBSERVER, 12 legislators said they would sell or lease the home if a vote were to take place today. Ten lawmakers would not sell, while three were undecided.
The legislature needs a 17-vote supermajority to sell any county-owned facility.
Legislators in July learned of two offers made on the County Home, one by Absolut Care Facilities Management LLC and Altitude Health Services Inc.
Absolut Care, which operates two nursing facilities in Chautauqua County, submitted an offer of $1.6 million a year with a purchase option of $16 million. Altitude Health, located near Chicago, offered $16.5 million in cash for the Dunkirk facility.