News Local/State

County Board Review Troubling Financial Projections For Nursing Home

New Champaign County Board member Brooks Marsh (R-Mahomet) is sworn in Thursday night.

New Champaign County Board member Brooks Marsh (R-Mahomet) is sworn in to succeed John Jay as a representative for District One, at a meeting which also featured lengthy discussion of the Champaign County Nursing Home's finances. Jim Meadows / Illinois Public Media

The Champaign County Board was presented with financial projections Thursday night that show the Champaign County Nursing Home running out of money later this year — perhaps as soon as June.

The projections come from Champaign County Treasurer Dan Welch’s office, and were made public by the News-Gazette on Wednesday. They predict that the end-of-month cash balance for the nursing home will drop by 19.46 percent in May, and continue dropping from there for the rest of 2017.

Welch’s projections forecasts another drop of more than one-third in June, putting the nursing home’s cash balance in negative numbers, at -$8,730.23. From there, the decrease would continue, notably in September, a month with three schedule payroll periods, with a projected 30.12 percent drop in an already negative cash balance.

By the end of December, Welch’s office projects the nursing home’s negative cash balance to be at -$768,238.87.

County administrator Rick Snider says the numbers behind the cash-flow projections from the county treasurer’s office could change, based on several factors. But he says the county needs to take action on the nursing home sooner, rather than later.

“In the community, I’ve heard some comments about, this is something that maybe we can keep the home running for another 12 or 18 months,” Snider told the county board. “I think, given the kind of numbers we’re seeing here from the treasurer’s office, we don’t have half of that to work with.”

Champaign County voters have rejected a tax increase for the nursing home, while giving the county permission to sell the facility. Snider says a proposal to issue an RFI, or Request For Information for a broker to facilitate a nursing home sale, will be ready for the county board to consider next month.

But Democrats on the county board who support a county nursing home have abandoned hope for the nursing home staying in county hands.  

“We’re looking at all options, and trying to think of some creative public funding solutions,” said County Board member Shana Jo Crews. “I mean, I don’t think we’re the only ones who are kind of in the boat of having to think outside of the box. And we can’t traditionally fund things the way that we have. So what are other sources that are available?”

Crews says they’re considering a consultant’s proposal to have the county and local health care institutions create a new, non-profit entity to run the nursing home. The nursing home’s advisory board is undertaking a closer review of this proposal.

Another option mentioned by Crews is so-called social Impact bonds, also known as Pay For Success or Social Benefit bonds. These are a type of bond where payment is tied to improved social outcomes that result in public sector savings.  Illinois first used this financial model in 2014 under then-governor Pat Quinn as a way to provide funding to help at-risk youth.

Meanwhile, County administrator Rick Snider is making plans to unveil an RFI — or request-for-information proposal, to find a broker to help facilitate a nursing home sale. The county board’s first discussion of the proposal had initially been scheduled for Thursday night’s meeting. Snider says the proposal wasn’t ready at the time, but could be presented at the county board’s committee-of-the-whole meeting in May.

County Board Transitions

County board discussion of the Champaign County Nursing Home’s financial problems came at a meeting, which also saw the installation of a new board member. Brooks Marsh (R-Mahomet) was sworn in to fill the District One seat previously held by John Jay, who resigned due to health reasons. Marsh owns the IGA supermarket in Mahomet, and has long been active in local civic affairs in that community.

In addition, the county board approved a resolution (and served cake during a short recess) thanking Jay for his service. Board members approved another resolution remember former county board member Lloyd Carter, Jr., who died April 5th at the age of 86. Relatives of both Jay and Carter were in attendance.