Letter: Vote ‘no’ on home
On April 3 St Croix County voters are asked to vote on a referendum asking if St Croix County should continue to operate the St Croix County nursing home if property tax dollars are needed to partially fund its operation. In its resolution approving placing the referendum on the ballot, the Health and Human Services Board states: “There are no Wisconsin Statutes that mandate a county must own or operate a nursing home.” The resolution goes on to say that $333,002 of tax levy support is budgeted for direct operations in 2012 and also states that “continued county tax levy dollars will be needed to partially fund direct operations in future County budgets.”
Why does St Croix County need to own and operate a nursing home which has required a considerable subsidy by the county taxpayers each year? At one time the county nursing home may have been the only option for care. However, many other options now exist. There are eight privately run nursing homes in the county as well as several assisted living facilities. Over half of the counties in Wisconsin do not operate a government run facility. The St Croix County nursing home has been nearly sold three times to private entities which intended to continue operation of the nursing home. The differences would be the county government would be out of the nursing home business, the private sector would take over, and the taxpayers would be off the hook.
The county home continually needs subsidies to fund its operation while the private sector homes manage to operate on their own. Based on my experience as a former member of the Health and Human Services Board, I urge you to vote “no” on this referendum.
Tom Irwin, Hudson
Letter: Vote ‘no’ for county home
The voters of St. Croix County will be presented with a unique opportunity this April 3rd to limit the run-away spending of property tax dollars at our county owned nursing home in New Richmond. While the yes/no referendum question on next week’s ballot appears to be straightforward, the detailed information behind the question is far from that. Many facts given to the public by county nursing home supporters have been emotional half-truths for continuing to use property tax dollars for additional funding of the home.
As elected county board members, you expect us to look into the details on how your property tax dollars are used. You expect us to ensure those dollars are used effectively and efficiently. And you also expect any service, with high operational cost using property tax dollars, be replaced with other same service resources when available at a lower price.
The county nursing home in New Richmond has been the focus of many past and present supervisors for several years. Due to its constant overspending of budgeted property tax levy, the board requested an analysis be done comparing our county home operation to other government run homes within a 200 mile radius. That report revealed our cost of operation is considerably higher than both government-run and private non-profit homes.
For 2011 alone, aside from the regular three sources of funding all nursing homes receive, our county nursing home received an additional $434,000 of IGT tax dollars and $333,000 budgeted property tax dollars, (dollars non-profit homes don’t receive). Yet, even with the latest union contract concessions, the board was forced to find an additional non-budgeted, overspent $460,000 for the home which were taken from all other county departments to stay within our annual budget. It is obvious our Health and Human Services department is unable to run this home within budget.
By voting “no” to partially funding the county home in New Richmond with property tax levy, it will encourage the Health and Human Services board to consider using other high quality, lower cost, non-profit homes in St. Croix County, should someone need county financially assisted care. Some of our county non-profit homes offer services not available at the county home in New Richmond, whereas the county home doesn’t offer any services not already provided by the non-profits at a lower cost.
What’s your decision? Yes, raise taxes. No, use other cost effective homes.
Steve Hermsen, Hudson
St. Croix County Supervisor, District 13