Court date, time scheduled in nursing-home loan case



The controller has refused to pay out a loan approved by commissioners.
By HAROLD GWIN
VINDICATOR SHARON BUREAU
MERCER, Pa. -- The debate between Mercer County commissioners and the county controller over a $1 million loan to the Woodland Place nursing home will get its day in court.
Visiting Common Pleas Judge Harold Thomson will hear arguments on the case at 11 a.m. Monday in Mercer County Common Pleas Court.
Judge Francis J. Fornelli, common pleas court president judge, asked the state to supply a visiting judge to hear the case to avoid any appearance of conflict because the local court has regular dealings with both offices.
Commissioners Olivia Lazor and Michele Brooks voted to approve the loan to the private nursing home that was once the county's nursing home.
Would not sign check
Controller Tom Amundsen refused to sign a check for the first $304,050 payment on the loan, saying he doesn't think the commissioners have the authority to make the loan to a private corporation.
The commissioners argue that Woodland Place is designated to provide medical care to dependents of the county, and the county still has a statutory responsibility for seeing that service is provided.
The county no longer has a nursing home of its own.
Further, the county guaranteed an $8.8 million bond issue borrowed by Woodland Place in 2002 and, if the nursing home fails to pay that debt, the county could be required to do it, the commissioners argue.
The $1 million loan is to be used to finish some independent-living units at Woodland Place that would boost the home's revenue and improve its financial stability, county officials said.

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