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Nursing home says borough, school district violated law

September 16, 2004|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - A Chambersburg nursing home operator Wednesday filed suit against the Chambersburg Area School District and Borough of Chambersburg, claiming each violated Pennsylvania's Sunshine Act during August meetings.

In the suit filed in Franklin County Court, Menno Haven Inc. contended the school district violated the law at a special meeting on Aug. 18 in which the board resolved to "initiate action against Menno Haven before the Franklin County Board of Assessment and Revision of Taxes to seek to change the taxable status of Menno Haven's skilled nursing facilities from exempt to taxable."

The action violated the law because it failed to give notice to Menno Haven and the public that the purpose of the meeting included discussion of pursuing a change in the skilled nursing facility's tax status, the suit alleges. The suit contends the district had published a notice two days earlier in a local newspaper stating that the purpose of the meeting was to discuss district building and construction plans.

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School District attorney Jan Sulcove said Wednesday he had not seen the complaint and could not comment on the allegations. He said the board did discuss the tax status of different parcels owned by Menno Haven and Menno Haven Penn Hall Inc. at meetings on Aug. 11 and 18 and the board authorized the district's business manager to file appeals with the assessment board.

The complaint contended that the borough violated the Sunshine Act during a meeting on an unspecified date in August when it convened an executive session, also for the purpose of "pursuing litigation to change the taxable status of Menno Haven's skilled nursing facilities." The suit stated no public notice was given as to the reason for the executive session, according to court records.

Borough Attorney Thomas Finucane said Wednesday the council did hold an executive session to discuss Menno Haven at the end of its Aug. 16 meeting, but that he believes notice of the subject of the session was included in copies of the agenda sent to the media prior to the meeting.

Menno Haven is asking in the suit that the borough and school district be enjoined from pursuing any litigation or appeals to the assessment board resulting from decisions made at the meetings in question.

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