News Local/State

Champaign County Board To Try Again On Seeking Proposals From Nursing Home Buyers

Champaign County Nursing Home

The Champaign County Nursing Home in Urbana. Scott Cameron/Illinois Public Media

Champaign County has already hired a firm to broker the sale of the Champaign County Nursing Home. But Democrats blocked the formal call for potential buyers in October, when the proposal failed on a mostly party-line 11-11 tie, with Pattsi Petrie (D-Champaign) joining Republicans in supporting it.. On Tuesday night (Jan. 9th), the county board will look at the proposal again. 

The formal call is called a Request for Proposals, or RFP,. It is a public call for interested parties to submit plans for buying and running the Champaign County Nursing Home.

County Board Member Jack Anderson (R-Rantoul) serves on the Nursing Home Advisory Board. He says he supports a sale to the right buyer as the best bet for a viable nursing home in the future.

“That home is an asset to our community", said Anderson. "But I also recognize that if we continue to operate it as a county, it’s quite possible that it might close. We don’t want that. We want it to stay open.”

But Democrats on the County Board be trying to block the RFP.  County Board Member Josh Hartke (D-Champaign), who also serves on the Nursing Home Board, accuses Republicans of trying to sell the nursing home at a time when SAK – the management firm running the home --- has made progress in repairing its finances.

“The thing is, is that SAK’s had a chance to turn things around", said Hartke. "We’ve stabilized things, we’re making payrolls. And they can’t have that. They want to destroy this nursing home.”

Anderson disagrees, saying that SAK has done their best, but has not been able to improve the nursing home's finances enough to make it viable. And he says that approval of an RFP is not a final step, because the county board can still decide not to sell the nursing home if they don't like the offers they receive.

The vote on the RFP will come Tuesday, January 9, during a special 6 PM meeting of the Champaign County Board, which will precede a 6:30 PM Committee of the Whole Meeting. The meetings will be held in the Lyle Shields Meeting Room at the Brookens Administrative Center, 1776 E. Washington in Urbana.

In addition to the RFP vote, the Champaign County Board will also vote on issuing tax anticipation warrants, allowing the nursing home to make immediate use of expected future tax revenue.

Champaign County Board Chairman Pius Weibel (D-Champaign) says he believes Republican support of the tax anticipation warrants for the nursing home will depend on passage of the RFP. 

Meanwhile, Hartke says efforts this time to block the RFP may be more difficult, because County Board Vice-Chairman Giraldo Rosales (D-Champaign) is expected to be absent. 

In addition, the county board will vote to fill a vacant Republican seat on the county board. The new member will replace Diane Michaels, who was sworn in last week as the new Champaign County Auditor. Hartke says the new member will ensure that Republicans have all their seats filled before votes are cast on nursing home issues.