CSEA case dismissed against Orleans County

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 4 October 2013 at 12:00 am

ALBION – Orleans County officials reported today that the State Supreme Court ruled in favor of the county in a lawsuit brought by the CSEA union, claiming the county improperly formed a Local Development Corporation that was tasked with selling the county nursing home.

This is the second time Acting Supreme Court Judge James Punch ruled in favor of the county in a legal challenge about the LDC formed to sell the nursing home, The Villages of Orleans.

“I feel that the judge has once again ruled wisely and justly,” David Callard, chairman of the Orleans County Legislature, said in a statement this afternoon. “We felt confident that we had acted appropriately and legally and the court confirmed that.”

The County Legislature, in a 6-1 vote, created the LDC on Feb. 27. Only Legislator George Bower opposed it, saying the Legislature had previously said it wouldn’t consider selling the facility until 2014.

The Legislature in a super majority vote is moving to sell the 120-bed Villages of Orleans because of the prospect of deficits that could top $2 to $4 million.

Four candidates have formed an independent “Save Our Nursing Home” party line to challenge to the incumbent Republicans in next month’s election. Those candidates say the county has overstated the potential losses and hasn’t work bring more revenue to the facility while reducing costs.

Chairman Callard has stated the best way to preserve the nursing home for the community is to sell the site so it can be run by a private operator. That would ensure a high quality of care for residents, while maintaining jobs and preserving programs, “without dire financial consequences to the taxpayers.”

CSEA represents 135 county employees at The Villages. The lawsuit alleged the county improperly formed the LDC – the Orleans County Health Facilities Corporation – and the county’s fee title is invalid. The suit alleges other “arbitrary and capricious actions” and wrongdoing by the county, including efforts “to circumvent the stringent requirements of public health law.”

The lawsuit noted that the union has a two-year contract running until Dec. 31, 2014. The Legislature in September 2011 also passed a resolution saying the nursing home would remain a public facility, subject to public governance, until at least the end of 2014, according to the CSEA suit.

Acting Supreme Court justice James Punch dismissed the case on Tuesday. Orleans Hub didn’t hear about this until late this afternoon and was unable to get a copy of Punch’s written decision. The Hub should have more on this next week.