On August 1, 2000, the Peoria County Board received a letter from David Williams, Chairman of the Health Services Committee stating that then Peoria County Administrator Jim Daken had the local architectural firm of LTZ submit a plan to renovate Bel-Wood for an all cost, hard and soft, total of $5.3 million. A 20 year carrying cost of yearly payments of $462,078.00 or a total of $9,241,560.00 would have been needed to pay for the renovations as the county did not have $5.3 million to spend on the "safety net for the poor", Bel-Wood.
Lynn Pearson was County Board Chairperson at the time to be succeeded at the next election by Mr. Williams.
Nine years later the approved new Bel-Wood will cost approximately $41 million with finance carrying costs over 30 years of approximately $65 million. These comparisons do not consider that the new Bel-Wood will be of new design with less capacity (230 beds) and a state of the art nursing home. These comparisons do not include that the existing Bel-Wood will remain with renovations including a new roof, perhaps, and used by some other county purposes.
Bel-Wood was not renovated and Mr. Daken passed on shortly thereafter. The county hired our present administrator Patrick Urich and Bel-Wood was never renovated and actually deteriorated despite the "MAINTAIN" property tax passed in year 2003. Yet a Facility Maintenance Supervisor was not hired until 2007.
From approximately year 2000, Bel_Wood went through 7 or more "managers" including at one time States Attorney Kevin Lyons. During the last nine years, Bel-Wood was "problem tagged" dozens of times and fined several times, the latest fine of $10,000.00, a fact not yet picked up by the JS, but announced by county administration in June, 2009.
The nine years I've served on the board, Bel-Wood has taken up a dis-portionate amount of administrative and the board time. Using a business profile, which it should, Bel-Wood has lost millions of dollars not just in the past nine years, but years before year 2000.
It has been my opinion not shared by administration and board that Bel-Wood should have been put on the market some years back with a contract that ensured an orderly transition period of years so that no resident was forced to leave.
My thinking was never put on the table. It was build new or renovate. When renovations estimates jumped from $12,500,000.00 in 2007 to $27-19 million in 2009, the board had no recourse but to vote to build.
In year 2000, the board did not act because they would have to borrow the money. No change today, all but $3 million of the estimated (highest scenario) $41 will need to be borrowed and in year 2012, Bel-Wood will be in heavy competition with the private sector whether administration of board members believe it or not.
The county board claims it must act now as the state is mandating nursing homes have sprinkler systems, a sprinkler system the county could have installed years ago. As well as a new roof which it has needed for years if the county keeps the old building for future county uses.
With over 400 empty nursing home beds available in the Peoria area today, Bel-Wood can hardly be called a safety net for the poor. More of a big risk for county property tax payers. Administration and consultants say not true. Only time, now, will tell.
Livingston Manor, a Livingston County Nurisng home, a benchmark used by our lead consultants MPA, is in the process of approval to be sold to a private nursing home in Woodford County.
Next challenge for the county and county taxpayers, the new museum.