From former McHenry County Board member Ersel Schuster:
Dear County Board Members:
In different capacities, I have for years participated in oversight of the McHenry County Valley Hi Nursing Home.
For these reasons, I believe I can speak with a well-rounded background/history on this subject.
Being up front, understand one critical, personal note. I voted against the referendum. I strongly believe government should never do what the private sector can.
Once the voters said they were willing to fund this facility, I have done everything in my power to uphold the voters’ decision.
That includes full support and willingness that the taxes I’ve contributed to this surplus fund, over about 40 years, be protected and carefully used only for the intended purpose.
1 – Currently, you are being asked “to rebate,” and/or, to use the facility’s surplus funds for “other” purposes.The facility is intended to care for those who have fallen on difficult times and unable to care for themselves.
2 – In nearly all cases, private sector nursing homes have not been able to support this population and stay in business. Increasingly, the private sector is undermined when government forces them to undertake this service without a stable source of funds for these costs.
3 – The public was asked, via referendum, to tell the county board if they would fund Valley Hi by pledging to support a new facility, structural maintenance and financial shortfalls with their taxes.
The public said yes.
4 – Once the major projects were completed and bonds were paid off, and management changes were made, surplus funds began accumulating.
- Realizing the inability to manage the annual levy dollars without jeopardizing the levy, county board members began reaching out to legislators for assistance in addressing the issue. \
- Numerous attempts at reaching out to the one legislator able to assist us, failed.
- Needed was controlling legislation to allow the levy to be adjusted as needed.
5 – Issues are compounded by the financial condition of the State of Illinois as reimbursement of Medicaid dollars have been precarious at best; further, that situation continues to deteriorate.
6 -Decisions/issues to be addressed:
- Today, the ratio of “private pay” clients have partially subsidized annual operation costs for the home. That issue must be addressed as private pay clients take beds from the intended client base and competes with non-subsidized nursing homes for private pay clients;
- Consideration must be given to the growing number of those reaching the time in life when the need for these services increases. Of additional concern is the growing indigent-dementia client base;
7 – All property owners/taxpayers who, for decades, have supported this facility, deserve a fair and upfront plan protecting these funds and could be assured of that by the following:
- Place the total amount of surplus funds in a protected, interest bearing fund where dollars are available to fund and protect the facility;
- Legally protect those funds from future politicians, preventing those funds from being used for purposes “other” than Valley Hi;
- Eliminate the existing Valley Hi Tax Levy;
- Designate the surplus funds for major structural and maintenance of the facility;
- Designate the surplus funds for annual operation cost shortfall;
- Once the surplus funds have been used, ask voters for their direction.
Local politicians failed in getting the attention of state legislators to correct the issues surrounding this levy process.
We are now faced with the glaring results of that incompetence.
Look closely at the original intent for the operation in providing for, and protecting, those less fortunate.
Illinois is not facing a financial upswing as some may believe… it is rapidly heading downward.
It is now up to this board to look years into the future and to make solid decisions protecting what the taxpayers have approved and paid.
Don’t be swayed by quick fixes that accomplish nothing more than to create mis-leading headlines.
Be swayed by the intent of Valley Hi Nursing Home.
Thank you for your consideration.
Ersel C Schuster