First, Mike Walkup, not a member of the Finance Committee, asked that the Valley Hi levy be split from the others for voting purposes.
Pointing out that he had served on the nursing home’s Operating Board for two years, Walkup related how the Board had asked the General Assembly for permission to drop the levy and, then, reinstate it without referendum, but that request had not been acted upon.
Walkup said the bank balance was $35 million when he went on the Operating Board, but now was up to $43 million.
“Do we continue to do this ad infinitum [forever]?”
At $1 million a year, he said, it will take us 40 years to get to that amount.
Walkup said he would like “a more robust discussion [by] split[ting this part of the levy] off as a separate item for Board discussion.
Next followed a robust discussion.
Provenzano, who is running in the District 3 GOP Primary effectively against Walkup (plus Nancy Gonsiorek – two will be nominate) seemed to put up a defense of the proposed million on the grounds of process, saying lowering it was “not something you take sharp turns on.”
He argued that the topic should have been brought up six months ago at the beginning of the budgetary process.
He took offense with Walkup’s contention that “we haven’t had a robust discussion.”
At the outset of the debate, however, he did say,”I don’t necessarily agree that we should be levying the same amount.”
He added, “We’re talking about a levy to protect and care for human beings that have no place to go.”
Provenzano pointed out by keeping the total levy constant for four years that taxpayers had been saved $16 million.
Committee Chairman Skala said there had been “many discussions about the [large balance].
“$3 million pretty much matches up with expenditures.”
Walkup disagreed, saying that the figure was closer to “$1 million.”
Skala then revealed that there had been “preliminary discussions of borrowing money from ourselves [the Valley Hill fund], bt again we needed a revenue stream to pay that back.”
County Administrator Austin talked of the modeling that could be done for different potential reimbursements from the Federal and state governments.
He also mentioned the possibility of borrowing some of the nursing home money would be discussed with the Facilities Committee in the next few months.
Austin pointed to the new nursing home that Centegra was proposing, which would taken the more profitable Medicare residents. (Centegra has pretty much stopped sending Medicare admissions to Valley Hi already.)
He also outlined how $16 million of the over $40 million could be spent:
- $5 million for a capital cushion
- $1 million for an insurance cushion
- $11 million for a 12 month reserve because the State is so slow in paying
“It’s more about $20 million,” Austin concluded.om, McCann said. “And nobody will notice the difference.”
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Previous articles on the meeting:
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If you would like to call or email your county board members to express your views on whether they should levy the $3 millions or not, you can find their phone numbers and email addresses here.
The draft levy ordinance can be seen below: