The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

July 1, 2013

Board looks at Manor loan

County faces paying personal, comp time

BY BRIAN L. HUCHEL
Commercial-News

DANVILLE — The immediate future of funds for Vermilion Manor Nursing Home has Vermilion County looking toward the possibility of a loan for the former county facility.

The Vermilion County Board, in a special session last week, approved the sale of Vermilion Manor Nursing Home to FNR Healthcare Group, a partner of Premier HealthCare Management. The price was $3.5 million plus $2 million in capital improvements for the Catlin-Tilton Road building.

Despite the sale, the county is not finished with the nursing home yet. Auditor Linda Anstey told members of the finance and personnel committee that the county still faces paying out the personal days, vacation days and comp time.

In addition to that, she said the nursing home’s funds have been “bouncing back and forth” as of late and the facility did not receive a Medicare payment for the month of June. She said Medicare payments are as much as four weeks behind currently.

Committee Chairman John Alexander of District 6 suggested the county could provide a loan from the county’s general fund until “we clear all these matters up with the nursing home.”

The committee did not take action on the suggestion because the meeting agenda didn’t indicate the potential for action on the issue. But the loan is expected to be brought up at the meeting of the full county board next week.

The committee did not discuss an amount for the loan at Monday’s meeting. But County Board Chairman Gary Weinard indicated to committee members that he would work on an agenda item for the full board that indicated a loan amount.

Anstey could not attach a total the county would have to pay in vacation and personal days as well as comp time at Monday’s meeting. She indicated the numbers could be available later this week.

The nursing home sale came in the midst of a funding drop for the nursing home. Funds had dropped from $2.4 million on Dec. 1 to $680,000 as of mid-last week. A two-week payroll alone costs a little more than $200,000.

When the nursing home’s money problems first elevated more than two years ago, Anstey said she was instructed by the board to prioritize bills and only pay payroll, utilities and food and medication if Vermilion Manor funds dropped to $500,000 — or the equivalent of two and a half payrolls.

In suggesting the loan, Alexander expressed hesitance in having to put off paying bills again at the nursing home.

“I don’t want to be parallel with the state in not paying our vendors,” he said.

This is not the first time the county has extended assistant to Vermilion Manor Nursing Home. In December 2011, the county board approved a line of credit of $572,000 to the nursing home. It received a $1.5 million line of credit from the county in January 2007.

Also at Monday’s meeting, the committee approved a recommendation for a new residency policy in the county.

Weinard said the policy will act as a suggestion in hiring county employees rather than attempt to force the decision with an ordinance. The policy will ask to give the preference to employment candidates living in Vermilion County.

A policy, passed in February 2010, called for all non-union employees of Vermilion County to reside within the county. Currently, there are around 250 non-union employees for the county.

Since that time, however, the policy has not been enforced in part due to a letter received from the Illinois Attorney General’s Office indicating the county could not enforce the policy among elected officeholders — which the county has no authority to control. County board members handle only the budgets for the elected officeholders, who make their own in-house policies.

Weinard said the policy approved Monday night would cover 10-15 positions among the departments under county control, including the Emergency Management Agency, Highway Department, Building and Grounds and Technology Services.

Committee member John Dreher of District 7 called the policy a “suitable way of settling things.”

Bruce Stark of District 9 abstained from the committee vote.