Update: 4:30 pm, 4/5/17, Wednesday
CHAMPAIGN COUNTY — Almost 24-hours after all the votes were cast, it’s time to look at what the future holds for the nursing home.
A “no” vote to a tax increase and a “yes” to selling make things appear more uncertain than ever. The county board has to decide for sure if the sale will happen.
Members say it’s not as quick a process as it sounds. Voters are pretty split on how they feel about the future of the county’s nursing home.
Even though county leaders have not made any decisions, some people worry the quality of the home will decline if someone else takes over. Others say it’s a good move because things cannot get any worse.
The county board asked. Voters answered. What to do with the nursing home? 54% said sell it. Now, the question is, will the county actually do it?
“I can’t imagine them being that disconnected from reality that they would actually try to just continue to ignore the will of the people and not do anything.”
Scott Tapley has been trying to get his message out the past few months: Selling is the best way to go. He says the other side tried to drown out that message.
“They got their message out four times as much as we did.”
Josh Hartke is on both the county board and nursing home board. His mission was the one which lost.
“To send a message to the county and to the county board that this is not the discussion that the people of this county want to have. They don’t want to have a discussion about selling their nursing home.”
“I think it’s really about a complete rejection of their message.”
Two-thirds of the county board would have to vote in favor of selling for it to happen. County board chair Pius Weibel says he’s not sure if they have the votes.
“I would guess you’re probably going to get half. I’d say 50% of the county board would vote to sell it.”
If they can’t get the votes, they stay in control. Board members say that could mean a few things: one, they could take money away from other services funded to keep the home afloat; two, downsize the nursing home; or, as a last resort, if they can’t get the money, they could close it down.
“We need to keep this nursing home fully funded and operated by trained professionals that we can trust.”
Barbara Franklin, with the Illinois Alliance for Retired Americans is afraid it won’t happen with a sale.
“A private company will only be concerned with their bottom line, which is the profit.”
Concerns like this are why some board members say they’d look for a non-profit to run it. Tapley thinks any option would leave the home better off, but the county has to get moving.
“It’s their job to find a new owner/manager/caretaker and there’s a lot of good options out there, but they need to get on the stick and get it done quickly because the situation is definitely a crisis.”
Weibel says there would not likely be a vote this month. They’re going to wait until election results are certified before bringing the issue up. That will take a couple weeks.
Almost 14,000 people voted to sell the home while nearly 12,000 voted against a sale. The vote against increasing property taxes won by 3,000 votes.
If voters had said yes to that, the hike would have gone toward the home if it stayed in the county’s control.
Original: 10:00 pm, 4/4/17, Tuesday
CHAMPAIGN COUNTY — Voters denied increasing taxes in order to maintain the county nursing home. They also approved allowing the county board to sell it.
Taxes were defeated 56% to 44%. The vote to allow the sale of the home was 54% to 46%.