ROCK ISLAND — Hope Creek Care Center will have access to up to $5 million in funds to operate on for the next fiscal year.
The care facility at 4343 Kennedy Drive in East Moline is owned by Rock Island county. Rock Island County Administrator Jim Snider has said the facility is losing $3.3 million a year, and balancing the budget for fiscal year 2019 would require filling 232 beds. The facility has 250 beds, but one wing is shut down and only 210 beds are available. Currently 150 are occupied, and they bring in a variety of daily rates, because a Medicare client reimbursement is less than a full rate client, for example.
A resolution and an ordinance were each approved on a 16-6 vote at the Rock Island County Board meeting Tuesday night.
The ordinance allows a tax anticipation warrant worth $3 million. The warrant gives that amount to the care facility in advance of the tax money being collected by the county, in order to continue normal operations. The resolution was for a inter-fund loan,capped at $2 million, to be drawn from the county’s liability insurance fund on an as-needed basis. These funds must be paid back.
Combined, will give Hope Creek Care Center access to $5 million in funds.
Board members Richard Morthland, Mike Steffen, Dewayne Cremeens, Robert Reagan, Drue Mielke and Ron Oelke voted against both measures. Kai Swanson was absent.
After the meeting, Mielke said the county should consider selling Hope Creek. It is “a business enterprise," he said, and moving money from the liability fund would be “unethical.”
Mielke said there is a capped levy for Hope Creek and the expenses are supposed to be funded by that.
“They are running FICA and they are running IMRF, which is the pensions, through the liability fund, which is an uncapped levy,” Mielke said. “Is that appropriate? They don’t have the money in the levy that is supposed to run the home.”
He said running the nursing home through the liability fund, there is no cap and no voter approval needed.
“It is not showing the true cost of running a home,” Mielke said. “It’s taking money from another pot of money it should not be coming from.”
Oelke said the county doesn’t know how to run a nursing home and that it continues to run at a deficit, which can’t continue forever.
“When I ran six years ago, I ran on we need to divest ourselves of the nursing home, and there has not been enough support for that,” Oelke said. “But, at the same time, nobody apparently wants to find a cure. I think some people on the board don’t want to face reality: this is a luxury we can no longer afford to have.”