By Kelsie Hoitomt
HUDSON — Last Tuesday, the St. Croix County Board of Supervisors approved a resolution that will authorize the County Administrator to enter into contract negotiations and finalize a contract with “Horty Elving” for Architectural and Engineering services.
This will be to design a Skilled Nursing Facility, a Dementia/Mental Health Crisis Unit and to remodel the existing Skilled Nursing Facility into a Community Based Residential Facility with a maximum project budget of $15 million.
Following the opening statement, there was a motion by District 4 Supervisor, Howard Novotny to approve the resolution and a second by District 18 Supervisor, Shaela Leibfried.
However, the resolution on paper appeared to be rather simple, but the discussion that followed the motion was anything but.
The Board members went into discussion for 50 minutes in regards to the actual cost to approve because in their packet the amount was between $15 and $29 million, but on the agenda the figure was a flat $15 mill.
Due to the fact that the money being spent on the project is tax payer dollars, a more concrete figure was wanted by a few Board members.
District 17 Supervisor, Judy Achterhof was the first to mention the difference in amounts printed and she asked that someone explain considering $15 to $29 mill is a significant difference.
County Administrator, Patrick Thompson stated that there has to be a starting point in terms of a figure and the $15 mill is at the low end of the estimation.
He went on to say that the $15 mill does not commit the Board to that dollar figure as further rigorous planning is to be done and better estimates will be given.
“In early 2015 there will be a bonding resolution and estimates for the project will be locked in, but we feel as a staff and sub committee (Administration and Health and Human Services) that the $15 million dollar estimate is a good starting point,” said Thompson
District 6 Supervisor, Stephen Nielson spoke up in continuation of Achterhof’s statement and said that he felt the document was confusing and poorly worded.
Nielson stated that he was only given one document and did not see the Facility Analysis and he wanted to see the Forecasted Scheduled, who did it and when it was done as well as the forecasted occupancy rates for both intensive care, immediate care and dementia care.
With all of that said, Nielson asked to see the resolution tabled until the November 7 meeting.
In reference, the Facility Analysis stated that “based on current Forecasted Schedule, the Net Income Available for debt service payment is $496,400 per year with no levy support. This buys you $7.385 million bonding. The above assumption of $450,000 was used instead of the $496,400 to create a buffer for the debt.”
Interim Administrator for the Nursing Home, Sandy Hackenmueller addressed the question by stating that the forecasted occupancy rate is roughly 47 in the Skilled Facility and 36 in the Assisted Living.
As far as in the Dementia Care Unit, there is currently no number due to the entire concept being so new.
This would be the first unit of its kind in the state so further information is still be gathered by the Health and Human Services Department.
Thompson furthered reassured the Board that this was not the final discussion and more numbers and more concrete estimates will be brought in front of them.
District 1 Supervisor, Travis Schachtner spoke up in favor of passing the resolution. He stated that there are three community members and six Board members that will be overseeing the project on a committee and trust needs to be placed on them.
“There are safeties built into this resolution,” said Schachtner.
Eventually a vote was brought to the table and the outcome was 14 yes’s and 2 no’s from Nielson and District 14 Supervisor, Andy Brinkman.
Absent from the meeting and the vote Chris Kilber, Ron Kiesler and Paulette Anderson.