A meeting between Portage County commissioners and the head of Robinson Memorial Hospital indicates there may be negotiations coming in the dispute over how much commissioners will pay the hospital for the land under The Woodlands at Robinson nursing home.
Commissioners met Tuesday morning with Stephen Colecchi, the hospital's president and chief executive officer, to discuss the issue. Colecchi expressed surprise that there was disagreement over the fact a payment was due the hospital.
Commissioner Tommie Jo Marsilio said the dispute wasn't that some payment was due, the disagreement was over the amount.
"How do you resolve that, then?" Colecchi said.
"You agree to take less," Marsilio said.
Commissioners have balked at paying the $490,000 value set by their appraiser last year before the county-owned nursing home was sold to Saber Healthcare Group.
The county received $7.6 million from the private nursing home company. That money has been directed to pay for construction of the new municipal courthouse going up in Kent.
Commissioner Maureen Frederick said the county general fund didn't have any extra.
"We don't have the money," she said.
Colecchi said the county commission agreed before the sale to pay the fair market value of the 6.9 acres of vacant land under the nursing home located in Ravenna. That was in order to get the hospital board of trustees to formally decline the hospital's option to purchase the nursing home.
"You knew the result of the appraisal and you went ahead with closing (the sale) and now you're ignoring the (land use) agreement," Colecchi said.
About 100 acres was purchased for $400,000 with proceeds of a 1973 20-year property tax levy to build a new hospital. The levy raised $4 million for construction of the hospital.
Commission president Kathleen Chandler argued that the value should be based on when it was last vacant, or the $4,685.87 per acre paid when the land was bought. Colecchi said the actual purchase price of the land in the 1970s was irrelevant, that the appraised value had to be based on what the land was valued at today.
"We believe the law says the hospital is entitled to the value of the land," Colecchi said.
After the meeting, Colecchi would not say if the hospital board was willing to negotiate down from the $490,000 price tag on the land.
"Our position is we're waiting for a proposal from commissioners I will take to the board of trustees for review."
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Facebook: Mike Sever, Record-Courier