Our View: County nursing home arguments show bizarre signsIt is sometimes amazing how government operates, but at least the County Board made the proper temporary decision regarding a county nursing home vote at a recent July meeting.
It is sometimes amazing how government operates, but at least the County Board made the proper temporary decision regarding a county nursing home vote at a recent July meeting.
The issue is not settled, however. Some County Board members wanted to vote on the future of the New Richmond facility at the July meeting. What is odd about this proposal is that a citizens advisory referendum is scheduled during the November election.
At the July meeting, the decision was tabled. What it essentially means is that the issue could still come before the board at one of several meetings to be held between now and the November election.
The correct decision would be to have the County Board wait until after a November referendum to determine the future of the nursing home facility.
Here’s a bit of the history regarding the county nursing home.
Not too long ago, the county was ready to get out of the nursing home business because of the ongoing high costs and financial losses surrounding the home. Then came a proposal to not only stay in the nursing home business, but build a new facility.
On March 18 County Board members voted 22-4 to hold a Nov. 4 referendum on continuing nursing home operations and to get more information on the cost of construction and/or remodeling to facility. The board appointed a committee to draft the referendum.
Two months later, on May 28, the Health and Human Services Committee adopted, on a 7-1 vote, a motion to recommend that the county build a new nursing home and a 20-unit assisted living facility. That resolution was on the agenda for July’s County Board meeting.
North Hudson Supervisor Daryl Standafer displayed good logic when he said voting to build a new nursing home, then holding a citizen vote in November would put the board “in an extremely embarrassing position of arrogance.”
He said that the County Board’s seeking of public opinion and then voting to build before the vote was taken would be as much as saying, “Whoops, I guess no matter the opinion you express in November, we’ve decided to proceed unilaterally.”
Standafer suggested the board take no action until after the referendum.
We agree and we believe the board should clarify that decision at its August meeting. The tabling of the decision in July temporarily halted a board vote, but did not prevent one in August, September or October.
There are other issues regarding the referendum. Among them is the fact that there are currently no cost estimates for either a new nursing home or an assisted living facility.
Voting to build would be “potentially signing a blank check,” said Hudson supervisor Sharon Norton-Bauman.
At this point in time, it would be in the best interest of the County Board and the citizens of St. Croix County to see this issue handled in the proper order. We can worry about the wording of the referendum later. In the meantime, the board should be willing to clarify its intention and assure the citizens that there will not be a board vote until after citizens have input on the issue.