Commissioners vote to put nursing home levy on the ballot

PERKINS TWP. Erie County's nursing home is adrift in a sea of red ink. Commissioners
Tom Jackson
May 24, 2010

PERKINS TWP.

Erie County's nursing home is adrift in a sea of red ink.

Commissioners are trying to keep it afloat.

The commissioners voted 3-0 Thursday to approve a 0.5-mill, five-year levy to help fund the Erie County Nursing Facility that's home to 134 people. It's estimated the levy would produce about $1 million a year.

The proposed levy would cost $15.31 a year for the owner of a $100,000 home, county auditor Tom Paul calculates.

Thursday's vote to send the issue to the election board means the levy will be on the Nov. 4 ballot.

Commissioners didn't spend a lot of time Thursday discussing the resolution before they approved it, but commissioner Nancy McKeen looked at it to make sure the ballot language would refer specifically to the Erie County Care Facility.

She said she hopes people recognize the importance of the levy.

"A lot of those people don't even have family," McKeen said. "It's home for them."

The nursing home lost $208,264 last year and $132,174 during the first half of this year. The facility has struggled to attract enough residents to break even.

The state has frozen Medicaid and Medicare payments to the nursing home for three years in a row, McKeen said.

"I do not want to see anything happen to that care facility," she said. "We're taking money out of the general fund to support it. We can't continue to do that."

Brad Storer, administrator of the 160-bed nursing home in Osborn Park, said the proposed levy would allow the home to build up an adequate reserve fund.

The money also will allow the home to carry out the capital improvements postponed as it struggled to stay open, including air conditioning work and work on the floor.

Commissioner Tom Ferrell remarked that voters who want to know more about the facility may stop at its booth at the fair.

"They have a nice presentation," he said.

IN OTHER NEWS

Erie County Commissioners approved transferring an additional $50,000 to the Erie County Sheriff's office to pay for housing county inmates in jails outside the area.

Because Erie County's jail is overcrowded, Sheriff Terry Lyons has had to send inmates to other counties, including Ottawa County.

The $50,000 brings the total amount of money given to the sheriff for housing inmates elsewhere to about $200,000, said Erie County administrator Mike Bixler.