Champaign County Board votes to put nursing home up for sale

Champaign County Board votes to put nursing home up for sale

URBANA — Champaign County Board members voted Tuesday night to put the county nursing home up for sale.

By a margin of 13-8, with Democrats Pattsi Petrie, C. Pius Weibel and Shana Jo Crews joining all 10 Republicans, the board voted to issue a request for proposals from private operators to purchase the county-owned facility in east Urbana. Champaign Democrat Giraldo Rosales was absent from the meeting.

Weibel, the chair of the county board, said he voted for the sale because continuing to operate the nursing home for a full year would threaten other parts of county government.

"If we were to keep the nursing home, we'd be struggling to find money for it," he said. "It's money. We don't have the money to do it. Either we keep the nursing home going or we lay off other people."

The vote came after about 45 minutes of public input from opponents and supporters of selling the nursing home, including nursing home advisory board member Cathy Emanuel, who said that there are "positive trends" at the facility and that the county could increase its value by keeping it open.

But Republican former county board member Scott Tapley contended the home has lost money for years and would continue to do so.

Jennifer Putman, a 30-year veteran of the county board, attended both the Republican and Democratic caucus meetings to plead with board members to not sell the home.

"The ship is turning around," Putman told the Democratic caucus. "We can continue to allow SAK (the private manager of the home) to turn the nursing home around and see the positive results that would come from keeping our public nursing home public."

'Do the math'

But an updated report from County Auditor Diane Michaels, distributed to board members Tuesday, said that the nursing home now owes more than $5.5 million to vendors and to the county government, an increase of more than $375,000 from a month earlier. It owes $2.8 million to outside vendors and $2.7 million to various county accounts, Michaels said.

Following the public input, board members debated the sale for another 50 minutes.

"If you're voting for a for-profit nursing home, you are voting to exploit staff members that are currently part of our county class," said Champaign Democrat Stephanie Fortado. "This idea that we somehow have to choose between the financial solvency of the county and selling the nursing home is not accurate.

"We could, if we all worked together, come up with actual solutions. I just think that we haven't been willing to."

Mahomet Republican Jim Goss said that it costs about $100,000 each day to operate the county government "and we're down to $3.2 million" in the county general fund.

"Do the math. Thirty-two days. That's what it is," he said. "Because we have given away two-and-a-half million dollars."

But Champaign Democrat Kyle Patterson argued that the nursing home provides a valuable service to the community.

"I'm sick and tired of this discussion of losing money," he said. "Do we go, 'Oh no, tonight we're going to lose $3,000 to the state's attorney's office and all we got out of it was expert testimony in three child abuse cases?'"

Mahomet Republican Brooks Marsh said he believed "you can get better care from a private home than we're giving them today in this home."

Terms of sale

Under the terms of sale, the minimum bid for the nursing home would be $11 million and any proposals for the purchase of the home would be due by Feb. 28.

A timeline listed in the request for proposals says that the sale process would be completed by May 1.

Among the terms to any sale of the nursing home:

— Any sale of the nursing home would require "yes" votes from at least 15 members of the 22-member county board.

— The purchaser must agree to maintain a skilled nursing facility with 220 beds, and any additional permitted uses are limited to a geriatric center, long-term care facility or assisted living facility. The restrictions would remain in place until Dec. 31, 2027.

— The purchaser would assume the existing collective-bargaining agreement between the nursing home and the AFSCME union.

— The purchaser must agree to rehire all existing employees who pass a background check, not terminate 10 percent or more of the employees within the first 60 days following the closing date and not 20 percent or more of the current employees during the first six months after the closing date, all at their current salary levels with benefits similar to those currently received.

— Priority for admissions would be given to Champaign County residents for 10 years. Bidders also would have to "address future admissions policies" and would have to "set aside a minimum of 50 percent of the licensed long-term facility beds to Medicaid payees" for at least 10 years.

— The purchaser would have to spell out how it would "work with and be accountable to the community."

Loans approved

In October, the county board voted down a motion to issue a request from private companies for the purchase of the home. The move failed, 11-11, with Petrie and the 10 Republican board members voting for it and all 11 other Democrats voting against it.

Last April, voters gave the county board authority to sell the nursing home by a margin of 54 percent to 46 percent. But Democrats have contended that voters in their districts opposed selling the home while it was mostly rural, Republican voters who supported the idea.

Following the vote to put the home up for sale, the board quickly approved issuing about $1 million in tax anticipation warrants to help cover retirement fund costs for nursing home employees, and to renew $500,000 in loans from the county general corporate fund to the nursing home.

Also Tuesday night, the board seated John Clifford of Rantoul to succeed Michaels as a county board member representing District 2 in the northeast quadrant of the county.

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787 wrote on January 09, 2018 at 10:01 pm

— The purchaser would assume the existing collective-bargaining agreement between the nursing home and the AFSCME union.

Nothing like making it difficult for the new owner, starting with day one.  Will anyone actually be interested in this place, knowing that they have to assume union labor?

How many other nursing homes in the area have union labor?  My guess is none.

chief21 wrote on January 10, 2018 at 5:01 pm

Thats the whole idea....so many ridiculous restrictions that no one would posssibly purchase the nursing home. That's been the plan from day 1, and evidenced by the super , super majority vote to move. A gauranteed staffing with no chance of dismissal. all with the memory of the deaths that have occured form our " sacred" public employees at this albatross. Why even vote in these referendums if the board will not move on the voters wishes. Just pathetic....

chief21 wrote on January 10, 2018 at 5:01 pm

Thats the whole idea....so many ridiculous restrictions that no one would posssibly purchase the nursing home. That's been the plan from day 1, and evidenced by the super , super majority vote to move. A gauranteed staffing with no chance of dismissal. all with the memory of the deaths that have occured form our " sacred" public employees at this albatross. Why even vote in these referendums if the board will not move on the voters wishes. Just pathetic....

787 wrote on January 09, 2018 at 10:01 pm

.

BruckJr wrote on January 09, 2018 at 10:01 pm

Why would anyone buy the home with those conditions attached?  I suppose that is the idea.  The board knows there will be no bidders under those conditions.  They can tell the taxpayers that they tried to sell but just couldn't find any buyers.

Citizen1 wrote on January 09, 2018 at 10:01 pm

With all the requirements put upon the buyer, there will be no buyer.  Continuing the failed policies of the board as a requirement of sale is ridiculous.  If it is the goal of the board to continue ownership of the nursing home and to continue to mis-manage it, this is the way to do it.  

Homeboy wrote on January 09, 2018 at 10:01 pm

Any sale of the nursing home would require "yes" votes from at least 15 members of the 22-member county board. Is this a misprint? Maybe 13 yes votes instead of 15 because the 8 votes tonight against selling would not be enough yes votes for a sale let alone when Rosales returns as he would I’m guessing would be a no vote. Am I missing something here?

Niko Dugan wrote on January 10, 2018 at 1:01 am
Profile Picture

Homeboy,

Thanks for your comment. The 15-vote threshold for final approval of a sale is correct. It represents a two-thirds majority of the board.

Sincerely,

Niko Dugan
online editor

Pointblank wrote on January 10, 2018 at 7:01 am
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The Sheriff is licking his chops over that $11 million dollar sale price. That's the ticket for his new Satellite Jail expansion. 

BART15 wrote on January 10, 2018 at 7:01 am

By the time you pay the vendors, the county, and the remaining bonds not going to be any extra.

scott_tapley wrote on January 10, 2018 at 8:01 am

There ought to be a quiz on basic accounting/math that's required before serving on a public board.  Anyone making comments like Furtado, Hartke, Patterson and Emmanuel (it's not a crisis, it would be making money if the state paid its bills, it hasn't really been losing money in the past, CCNH isn't a threat to the county's solvency, etc.) either does not understand accounting/math or is intentionally dishonest.

It's good to see so many people accurately assessing that the bidding criteria are unreasonable (and probably by design).  CCNH probably will not be sold unless the public votes out a couple of the math-challenged Dems on the County Board.

GLG wrote on January 10, 2018 at 1:01 pm

"The purchaser would have to spell out how it would "work with and be accountable to the community."

 Why should they ? The county board hasn't done a very good job of being accountable to the tax payers who voted to sell the CCNH a long time ago.

Why does Champaign County Board  have 31 members?? Cook County has 5.

Term limits are in order, One member has been there 30 years, Get the dead wood out.

pattsi wrote on January 10, 2018 at 4:01 pm

Since the 2001 county redistricting, the number of CB members has been reduced from 27 to 22, from 3 representatives per 9 districts, respectively, to 2 representative per 11 districts, respectively. There was time that the CB was made up of two respresentative from each of the 29 townships.