MERCER COUNTY Judge postpones hearing over loan
The judge is giving the controller time to answer the complaint.
MERCER, Pa. -- The legal battle between Mercer County commissioners and the county controller over a $1 million loan to the Woodland Place nursing home will be delayed at least a week.
Visiting Common Pleas Judge Harold Thomson had set a hearing on the dispute for 9:30 a.m. Monday, but after a conference call with both parties Thursday, postponed the hearing.
The commissioners field a complaint Tuesday seeking a court order to force Controller Tom Amundsen to make the first payment on a $1 million loan to Woodland Place, but Amundsen's attorney hadn't filed an answer to the complaint as of Thursday.
Judge Thomson decided the controller should be given until next Thursday to respond to the complaint and will hold another conference call with the two sides next Friday to determine whether the case is ready to proceed, said Atty. Mark Longietti, representing the commissioners.
2 of 3 approved loan
Two of the three commissioners, Olivia Lazor and Michele Brooks, approved the loan to the private nursing home, but Amundsen refused to pay out any of the money, claiming the commissioners don't have the authority to make such a loan to a private corporation.
The commissioners argue that the county has a statutory responsibility to provide medical care to indigent county residents and Woodland Place, which was once the county nursing home, has taken on that responsibility on behalf of the county.
The county also has a financial stake in Woodland Place, having issued a guarantee for an $8.8 million loan the nursing home borrowed through a bond issue in 2002.
If Woodland Place defaults on that loan, the county would have to pay it, the commissioners said.
The $1 million loan is to be used to complete some independent living units at Woodland Place which would boost the home's revenue and improve its financial stability, county officials said.