A special Legislative meeting Feb. 5 to review the Vestra Care proposal to purchase the Chautauqua County Home brought out some interesting information and insights that should have the taxpayers of this county asking questions regarding the process of this sale and what it could actually cost the County.
During the meeting Jeff Farbenblum, the potential purchaser, was asked why Vestra Care had reduced their offer of $16.5 million in October to the current $16 million. His response was that he had originally seen it in good weather and it showed better than now. Thus because of a little snow on the ground and no foliage on the trees the county agreed to lose a half-million dollars. Really?
In relation to the offer there has been, and still is, a real question about how any dollar value was arrived at for the sale. No one seems to have even an appraisal.
It is interesting to note, however, that the closest anyone has been able to get an estimate of real property worth of the County Home was a cost valuation from 1997 completed by KVS Information Systems for the Town of Dunkirk This placed a valuation of $23,988,693 on the property. This was completed before the 2002 $18 million building renovation and expansion, which increased the square footage of the home from 100,000 square feet to 154,000 square feet.
When asked about this valuation Mr. Farbenblum discounted it and said that it really wasn't relevant because "something is only worth what someone will pay for it." So, let me see, in Mr. Farbenblum's world if he put up one of his fancy cars for sale for say $50,000 and I bid $1,000 on it and no one else bid - would I then get the car? Oh no. I don't think so!
I would bet he would run to get his Kelly's Blue Book to show me the errors of my ways - because after all there it would be in writing. Then to prove its further worth he would show me the value of all the accessories that come with the car.
We as taxpayers deserve to have our own "Blue Book." This is a valuable property and we should know its true worth. Let's see it in writing! I believe the following actions should be taken before any commitment to sell the home moves forward:
An appraisal of the real property located on the campus. This should include the nursing home, the garages and outbuildings on the property, the single-family residence located on the grounds and the vacant property at the site.
An inventory and valuation or replacement value on all items and equipment located within the nursing home (all of which are included in the purchase offer). This would include, but not limited to, any items used in patient care, housekeeping, laundry facilities, linens, also all kitchen and dining equipment and furniture, as well as office equipment, furnishings and supplies.
Additionally, an inventory and valuation of all equipment used to maintain the property. This would include, but not limited to, equipment used for snow removal, lawn care and landscaping, and any vehicles such as pickup trucks or carts included in the sale.
A valuation of the existing gas well which should also include the current cost of drilling a similar well.
Everything listed above is included in the purchase proposal and no where can be found the rationale for the $16 million dollar figure. In addition, our representatives stood meekly by as this purchaser lowered his bid by a half a million dollars because "it didn't show as well" with a little snow! Whose interests are they really representing?
The people of this county own this property. Have you really got all the information you need to sell?
JoAnn Niebel is a Sheridan resident.