Sunday, September 21, 2014

PUBLIC NURSING HOMES - How "Truth Stretching" Created Heddington Oaks - 90% of What the Peoria County Board Did and the Peoria Journal Star Reported Were Lies

The first BIG LIE  was the referendum in 2008. To refresh the memory of  Peoria County property payers who care, the question on the referendum said "Shall the maximum rate of the tax levied by Peoria County for the purposes of MAINTAINING  a county nursing home, Bel-Wood, be increased from .025% to .06%." I supported this referendum never believing that our Administrator, Patrick Urich, now Peoria City Manager, NEVER intended that Bel-Wood be maintained because he and the Democrat majority wanted the glory of a new tax supported $53 million Heddington Oaks. A "safety net" for the poor, it was called.

In the first 6 months of this fiscal year, Heddington Oaks lost an additional $900.000.00. Did the JS report this? What do you think the Journal Star would do? It's Mike Bailey and Company's nature to help cover-up problems on anything they supported. And did they ever NOT support any of the "boondoggles" in Peoria??

Fourteen years ago, BelWood County Nursing Home could have been totally remodeled for around $7 million. Approximately 7 years later, the job was quoted by a reputable contractor out of Springfield, for $12 million. This did not fly with our administrator and the Democrat majority on the County Board. A local contractor was brought in and estimated around $19 million. This figure did not please those running the board so they received an estimate from the same local firm for $29 million, then to my knowledge a final one for $33-4 million.

The administrator wanted a new building and a majority of the board concurred. I did not. On June 7, 2010, the JSEB wrote,"The cost of the new rebuild, pegged at $45 million today,(actual cost $53 million, JS June 6, 2014) would be covered by an existing tax, approximately $3.4 million in property taxes, both direct and indirect, that county residents (not true, only Peoria County PROPERTY taxpayers) pay to support the facility, now named Heddington Oaks, Now, Heddington Oaks has lost over $900,000 in just one-half year of 2014, not including the property taxes of around $3 million collected each year to support the new HO Peoria County Nursing home.

In order to get approval from the State of Illinois, Peoria County had to submit evidence that it would be almost as cheap to build as to remodel. Here again, I quote the Journal Star Editorial Board. "After seeing that the cost to make the renovations was nearly as high as the price tag of a new building - and thus unlikely to get the OK from the state oversight panel - board members ultimately decided in June 2009 to construct a new building instead."

A contingent of Democrat board members took the figures $33-4 million to renovate and $45 million to build to Chicago to present before the State Health panel. The State Health panel consisting of a majority of Democrats gave their immediate approval.

On 6/6/09, I wrote on the opinion page of the JS. opposing a new structure as being unaffordable while the final estimate for remodeling was Pat Urich and the consulting firm dreams.. On 6/10/2010, I wrote on the JSEB "Spotlight" page, "Costs too high for county to keep supporting supporting any type of county nursing home" Almost all counties in the State of Illinois had ceded the safety net for the poor to the state and private nursing homes. BelWood was always considered to be a safety net; now it is a luxurious facility unaffordable to many county property tax payers. Our then administrator, Patrick Urich told me this new facility would be self-supporting along with what the state was contributing through Medicaid.

All private nursing home must not lose money or they would go out of business. Not government owned nursing homes, they just raise taxes, at least here in Peoria. Tazewell County gave up their public nursing home many years ago as an esample.

So now Peoria County itself is running a deficit and looking for ways to cut costs. When the subject of the badly missed projection of Heddington Oaks was brought up, it was quickly shot down by Board member, Jimmy Dillon whose close relative allegedly has West Peoria City Hall offices in the same complex. Other Democrats claimed a board meeting was the wrong venue for discussing problems at Heddington Oaks. As of September 1, 2014, 13 of the 2114 Heddington Oaks county owned nursing home, were still unfilled.

So many lies to taxpayers, most of whom seem apathetic. Not unusual in this community. But most everything envisioned by the "movers and shakers' in this community have been built, all that remains are rising taxes to cover operating and long-term bond costs.

Some, again say my facts are wrong. Call a press conference and I will present my facts which are ACCURATE and i could expose a lot more such as what the maintenance supervisor at BelWood told me personally that he was instructed to not repair anything not ABSOLUTELY necessary. Then pictures were taken of what needed repairing (one contractor told me he could do the work for $25,000.00 which I have in my possession, but only because I asked for them) and shown to the State Health Board to show why it would cost $33-4 million to renovate Belwood.

So sad, but there is no glory in renovating. "New" is the big word in this community while so many buildings like BelWood, Cub Foods on Knoxville, etc., sit empty.

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