Saturday, July 04, 2009

Prime Times - Jennifer Davis, Journal Star

Today's Journal Star "Prime Times" section carries an article by Jennifer Davis, who is also the Editor, I believe, titled, "County Board Member an old hat at blogging". Thanks, Jenny, She quotes me from blogs I wrote on 6/10/09 and 6/11/09 on recent decisions to build a new Bel-Wood at an approximate cost of $41 million. Bel-Wood has approximately $3 million in it's "building fund" collected from property taxes, so the county will need to borrow $38 million, more or less, and count on rising EVA taxes of 3% each year for the next 30 years to help pay off the principal and interest on the loan.

One typo in Jenny's story, (I make many) should read "our Project Manager & coordinator who is charging..." The name of the consulting firm is MPA, out of Chesterfield, Missouri. I do not doubt their competence. I do doubt a number of the figures or projections they have given us and I question the board making a decision of this magnitude considering the economic uncertainty in the community and world. I also note that of the 3 benchmark jobs MPA submitted for references is Livingston Manor. Livingston County Manor in Illinois, is in the process of being bought out by a private nursing home in Woodford County. Also, that the new Bel-Wood will be taking at least $4,500,000.00 in property taxes in year 2034 and, in effect, be considerable competition to the private tax-paying health care sector.

Another benchmark used by MPA was DeKalb County. Responsibility was delegated to a body know as the DeKalb County Rehab and Nursing Center Operating Board. This Board consists of 7 members, two from the county board and the rest at large. By design, members serve one year with a maximum of 6 consecutive terms. Established in 2006, I have not heard how this plan, which looks interesting, is working out. It would appear to take some of the politics and work load off our County Administrator. Monroe, County, where my daughter and family lives was also submitted as a benchmark. It is governed by three County Board members. Management reports directly to the commissioners.

Note my "Letter to the Editor" in this month's issue of the Community Word.

Thanks you and please call attention to the mistakes I make. I regret adding the same figure twice to BW property taxes collected to operate the facility. However, When it comes to "projection figures" in this community, somehow they always seem to come up "short". Financial and accounting people can only work with "figures" given them by others.

Most counties no longer have County owned nursing homes, two close by are Tazewell and Sangamon County. Fulton Count, citing many problems made an effort to sell their nursing home a couple of years ago. I do not know where the Fulton County Board stands on this issue.

All nursing homes have endless problems, from lawsuits to rigid state inspections and fines to noncollectable accounts receivables. Doubtful Accounts, some of which may be collected have risen as high as $850,000.00 in 2009. Our new Financial Officer has installed a badly needed policy on collections that is having some success. As noted, Bel-Wood was fined $10,000.00 last month. Now that the Peoria County will soon own the under-funded (at this time) new Peoria Riverfront Museum, and are involved in helping District #150, Springdale Cemetery and fulfilling our core missions, property taxes collected the county, over $25 million last year, have only one way to go.


One way to reduce property taxes would be to sell Bel-Wood to a competent private sector, putting restrictions in the contract to prevent hardships to current residents, but this board and administration have no interest in doing this.

It is pointed out that we must have a sprinkler system installed of course, in a new building by 2012. Or we could do what we should have done a long time ago and that is install one in the existing structure along with a new roof, some plumbing and some electrical and new doors where needed. After all, it is supposedly a "safety net" for the poor" and not a place for some offspring to store their parents after selling off all their parents assets. Think it's not being done by some (put them in private nursing homes) all over the state, think again. Over 400 empty beds in our area just 3 months ago, according to our BW Administrator; Matt Neukirk.

I hear, "but they won't take Medicaid". Yes they will. Where do the poor in 80 some counties go that don't have public nursing homes, like Tazewell and Sangamon? No Sangamon at BW and few from Tazewell, if any.

All my protestations were never considered. This new structure will be built and hang like a "milestone" around Peoria County property tax payers for 30+ years.

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