We are being asked today (July 15) to approve a resolution from the St. Croix County Health & Human Services Board to build and support a new county nursing home and 20-bed assisted living facility. I cannot support this resolution for the following reasons:The resolution as stated does not include any dollar amounts for cost of building a new nursing home and assisted living facility and operating them. In March of 2008, we as a County Board approved a motion to have an advisory referendum placed on the county ballot in November 2008. We have promised that vehicle to them, and I believe we ought to live up to our vote in this matter. Our consulting firm, Wipfli, reported in July 2007 that the potential tax levy for 2007-2011 for the operation of the current nursing home could be $7.4 million, excluding capital improvements. Estimated capital improvements over five years based on depreciation expense would be $950,000. Our risk manager reported that 45 percent of our workman’s compensation insurance claims are for reported claims at the nursing home. In September 2006 it was reported to us that 82 percent of costs for the nursing home were for salaries/fringe costs — that obligation would continue to be in place for a new nursing home or at our present facility. It was reported to the County Board in December 2007 that we have subsidized the current nursing home $7.8 million since 2001.We have recently become part of a managed care program under the auspices of the ADRC committee, with that committee operating under the Health and Human Services umbrella. The goal is to allow eligible citizens to choose the level of care they need to live comfortably in the community. Nursing home care is not a mandated service for any governmental body, including counties. Nursing homes used to be the only way to receive most services through the Medicaid program. Under the managed care approach, group homes and services within a citizen’s own home can be funded. The Spring Valley Health Center is not supported by any tax levy. Their fringe benefit package is approximately 33 percent of wages. Our fringe benefit package is approximately 58 percent of wages. We cannot hope to operate a nursing home and even break even under that scenario. I don’t think it makes sense to subsidize some elderly or disabled with tax dollars and potentially force people who have lived here for many years to give up their homes and move because of our decisions to subsidize county activities which are not mandated. Our current tax levy cost for each nursing home bed is approximately $20,000 per bed. We are anticipating a $l.3 million deficit in our 2009 budget. To add to that deficit in the future with unnecessary and unmandated county spending does not make sense to me. There is currently an inventory of beds in our county which would house all our current county nursing home residents. One of the questions that must be considered is if the county should be competing with private industry in this or any other endeavor. Our current economic conditions in our county, state and federal governments are alarming and I am hesitant to ask our citizens to provide any more tax dollars. We currently need a new heating/cooling system at the Government Center ($1.7 to $2.4 million); we need a new roof at the Government Center ($500,000; we need a new human services building (cost unknown). There is only so much water in the well, and we are required to use tax dollars for projects that we must do, not those that are discretionary.
Sharon Norton-Bauman, Hudson
St. Croix County District 19 supervisor
opinion, hudson, letter, stcroixcounty, nursing_home
More from around the web