OBSERVER Staff Report
MAYVILLE - Greg Edwards has been waiting nearly 11 months for a list of proposals from union officials to save the County Home.
On Thursday, less than 30 days prior to the county legislature's review of the contract to sell the County Home to Altitude Health Services, Inc., the union responded to Edwards' request to negotiate.
"CSEA is requesting that negotiations for terms and conditions of employment for employees at the Chautauqua County Nursing Home be separated from negotiations for the remainder of the Chautauqua County Employee Unit 6300," noted Penny Gleason, labor relations specialist. "This request is predicated upon full funding of the County Home (including IGT match) and implementation of other cost-saving and revenue enhancing recommendations made in the Center for Governmental Research report."
Edwards, while noting the poor timing by the CSEA, formulated a response and said there was still time for the CSEA to deliver on the first invitation he made more than 10 months ago to negotiate.
"If I commit the taxpayers of our county to funneling over $3.2 million tax dollars into the County Home each year, and implement flawed changes, then the CSEA will negotiate changes to their contract," Edwards said in response to the Nov. 20 letter submitted by Gleason. "If the CSEA would like to submit a proposal that is responsive to my letter delivered over 10 months ago, I would be willing to review the same as long as the offer is received by the negotiating team prior to Dec. 12, 2012."
In his letter, Edwards also seeks clarification from the CSEA as to what they meant by their request being predicated on IGT funding and implementation of CGR recommendations.
"The union's letter conditions any potential negotiations by the CSEA on my promise that I will guarantee that the taxpayers of Chautauqua County will spend $1.6 million of our property taxes, and another $1.6 million of our state and federal taxes every year going forward to keep the Skilled Nursing Home owned by the county," Edwards notes. "Not stopping there it also requires that I promise that the significantly flawed CGR report recommendations be guaranteed to be implemented."
On Oct. 24, the legislature voted 16 -8 to direct Edwards to negotiate a contract for the sale of the County Home to Altitude Health Services, Inc. for $16.5 million. The legislature will review the contract for sale during its Dec. 19 meeting.
In the meantime, the County Home continues to lose an estimated $9,000 per day, according to Edwards.
"Instead of losing $9,000 per day we could be earning $2,190 per day and have the opportunity for expanded health care for our seniors," Edwards said, noting how the sale of the County Home to a private sector company would change the county's financial climate.