COOPERSTOWN — Otsego Manor advocate Maureen Culbert called on Otsego County lawmakers Friday to begin renegotiating the labor contract with the nursing home’s workers and postpone an upcoming vote authorizing the sale of the county-owned facility.
The monthly meeting of the Board of Representatives, to be held at 10 a.m. Wednesday in Cooperstown, is shaping up as another showdown between privatization opponents, led by Culbert, and board members who say the escalating public subsidy for the home is unsustainable for the county.
The board’s agenda includes a resolution that authorizes the sale of the 174-bed home to the highest “responsible” bidder. The panel voted in September to authorize the sale, but that decision was voided by a state judge who sided with the Civil Service Employees Union by ruling the board members violated the state Open Meeting Law.
“The board has dragged its feet on negotiations with the union,” said Culbert. She argued that the county legislators are squandering what she called a valuable opportunity to wring significant savings for the county by pushing for contractual concessions from the bargaining unit for the workers.
Mark Kotzin, a spokesman for CSEA, said the union wants to enter negotiations with the county. But as for agreeing to any concessions, that would only be considered if there were “guarantees” that the Manor would remain a public nursing home for a significant period of time.
A plan promoted by Rep. John Kosmer, D-Fly Creek, to keep the Manor as a county property was also premised on union concessions, as well as a survey of country residents to determine if there is popular support for sales tax increase to bring in more revenue. His plan has been shot down twice, once by the full board, and once by the Manor Committee, of which he is a member.