Champaign County Officials: Don’t Lay Off Staff To Fund Nursing Home

July 28, 2017
Champaign County seal, displayed in the Champaign County Boardroom.

Seal of Champaign County, displayed in the County Boardroom at the Brookens Administrative Center in Urbana.

Jim Meadows/Illinois Public Media

Champaign County public officials want the County Board to sell the county nursing home soon so other county services can continue without staff layoffs. .

All nine county-wide elected officials jointly signed a statement Thursday calling on the Champaign County Board to sell the nursing home “as soon as practicable to a reasonable buyer.” 

The statement was signed by Circuit Clerk Katie Blakeman, Auditor John Farney, County Clerk Gordy Hulten, Coroner Duane Northrup, Recorder of Dees Mark Shelden, Sheriff Dan Walsh, Treasurer Dan Welch, State's Attorney Julie Rietz and Presiding Judge Tom Difanis.

The statement was issued after County Administrator Rick Snider warned at a County Board study session Tuesday that 24 to 30 county employees would have to lose their jobs next year, to balance out an estimated $500,000 in emergency loans that the nursing  home needs to stay afloat.

County Clerk Gordy Hulten said he and his colleagues have cut costs for the past 10-years. Says the elected officials oppose any layoffs.

“We are at the point where reductions in our personnel will cause severe impacts on the essential required mandated services we have to provide to the citizens of Champaign County,” Hulten commented.

The elected officials hope their message is loud and clear to Champaign County Board members.

“It is inappropriate to cut the essential services provided by our offices to continue to fund a nursing home that is failing and is not a required service to be provided by Champaign County,” Hulten added.

Hulten and his colleagues do not want the county board to close the county nursing home outright. They say selling the nursing home to a "reasonable buyer" will protect its residents, workers and taxpayers.

Champaign County voters approved a referendum in April allowing --- but not requiring --- the county board to sell the facility. The county board has hired the firm of Marcus and Millichap to act as a broker for a possible sale.

Text of 7/27/17 statement signed by Champaign County countywide elected officials:

As public officials of Champaign County, we are required to provide essential services to the public. We have been following with interest the poor financial performance of the County Nursing Home, and the necessity for continued subsidies to the Home from the County general fund.

This week, the County Administrator stated that funding the operation of the Home through next year would require significant personnel reductions from other County Departments. These potential personnel reductions would be in addition to reductions effected during the past ten years, as our departments have continued to increase efficiencies to meet new state and federal mandates without adding staff. Furthermore, these personnel reductions would negatively impact essential County services in law enforcement and our Court system; and in our administration of elections, land records, vital records, and other programming.

Champaign County’s current financial difficulties are temporary, and are caused by the poor financial performance of the County Nursing Home. We recommend, as a solution, the sale of the Home as soon as practicable to a reasonable buyer, who can improve the quality of care for patients, protect Nursing Home employees, and eliminate the financial liability and risk currently borne by the taxpayers of Champaign County.

Signed,
Circuit Clerk Katie Blakeman
Presiding Judge Tom Difanis
Auditor John Farney
County Clerk Gordy Hulten
Coroner Duane Northrup
State’s Attorney Julia Rietz
Recorder of Deeds Mark Shelden
Sheriff Dan Walsh
Treasurer Dan Welch

Story source: WILL