Time to sell the nursing home

Time to sell the nursing home

Well, taxpayers, here you go again. Hang on, it's going to be another rough and costly ride.

The latest news from the Champaign County Nursing home was a disappointing, but not surprising, call to action that county board Democrats ought not continue to ignore.

The facility is a costly failure, more so by the month and to the point it's putting other county operations in danger.

When will the entire 22-member board accept the result of the April vote that rejected a tax increase for the nursing home and called for the sale of the failing facility? Don't hold your breath.

As of now, the board is looking into widespread layoffs of county employees who provide duties required by state statute to maintain the nursing home — which is not a required government service.

County officials say it will require $1.4 million in spending cuts and layoffs to keep the nursing home afloat through next year. Not only is that kind of budget cutting disgustingly difficult, it would also be unnecessary if the board would finally recognize financial failure.

The debate over this issue has descended into the depth of bizarre partisanship, and it seems no amount of evidence of the need to jettison this financial albatross is enough to persuade its devotees to reverse their position that the facility must be maintained at all costs.

The latest shoe to drop in this centipede of disaster was the news that the facility needed to borrow another $50,000 from an existing loan fund established by the county to meet its payroll.

The original fund was set at $250,000 and intended to help the nursing home meet cash-flow issues. But those cash-flow issues seem to be permanent. Perhaps that's why the $250,000 is now down to $100,000.

That $250,000 fund came on top of another $250,000 fund that was soon exhausted. There's a disturbing pattern here for those who care to look for it.

Even worse, those declining numbers barely scratch the surface of the nursing home's financial failure. It's a fire that has become a conflagration.

The nursing home's financial woes are nothing new. Indeed, the county board has, over the past 15 years, devoted an inordinate amount of time trying to restore the facility to the luster it once had.

But it's just not working out. Why is it so difficult for board members to give themselves and their predecessors credit for doing their best but falling short of their goal?

The stubbornness in refusing to recognize reality comes on top of voters' authority to sell the operation to the highest bidder. It's the height of arrogance for some board members to argue that since voters in their districts opposed the sale of the facility, they're obligated to oppose its sale.

They certainly would not have recognized that position as legitimate if the situation was reversed — the public had voted to keep the nursing home — and some board members said they still advocated its sale because voters in their districts had taken that position.

At best, that kind of thinking is self-serving political sophistry.

Just what do these board members think they're preserving? Despite long-standing efforts to increase patient numbers, the facility remains underpopulated while private facilities are available to those who need care.

Then, of course, there are the taxpayers who have to foot the bill. Aren't their tax dollars worthy of respect?

There's no doubt the county faces a tough situation. But it certainly ought not be a tough decision to let the nursing home go. The financial facts could hardly be more clear.

Sections (2):Editorials, Opinion

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Citizen1 wrote on November 14, 2017 at 8:11 am

The voters have spoken.  Sell it.  If the board refuses, impeach them.

GLG wrote on November 17, 2017 at 8:11 am

Let the MTD run it, They have no problem bleeding the taxpayers for all the money they need!!