The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

July 6, 2013

County board considers line of credit for nursing home

BY BRIAN L. HUCHEL
Commercial-News

DANVILLE — Vermilion Manor Nursing Home could have an extra $1 million to work with as it ownership transfers to a private company.

Members of the Vermilion County Board on Tuesday will discuss the issue of extending the funds in the form of a line of credit to the nursing home. Board Chairman Gary Weinard said the total is a arbitrary number determined by current cash flow for the nursing home and the state’s record with payments.

“It gives us a month-plus of expenses and, with the balance we have now and anticipating a little more coming in July, that will get us where we need to be,” he said Friday.

Unlike taking out a loan, the nursing home will draw only on the line of credit if necessary. Weinard added it is believed to be a “short-term situation.”

After years of debate, county board members made the move in June to sell Vermilion Manor Nursing Home to FNR Healthcare Group, a partner of Premier HealthCare Management. The overall price tag was $5.5 million — $3.5 in payment and $2 million FNR Healthcare has promised to put into capital improvements for the 200-plus bed facility.

The line of credit is two-fold for the county as it works to close the books on its portion of the nursing home. Since Dec. 1, the county has seen Vermilion Manor funds drop from $2.4 million to around $650,000 in mid-June. A two-week payroll alone costs a little more than $200,000.

In addition, the county also faces paying out for vacation days, personal days and compensatory time to current employees at the building. Weinard said officials are still putting together an estimate as to how much that will cost.

He said the county will not be out of funds through this method, noting the county still has $1.5 million in outstanding receivables.

“The state has never not paid,” he said. “What they haven’t done is paid in a timely fashion.”

It is believed FNR Healthcare could take over as soon as Aug. 1.

Also at Tuesday’s meeting:

 Board members will vote on replacing an ordinance outlining a residential employment requirements with a softer policy stance.

An ordinance, passed in February 2010, called for all non-union employees of Vermilion County to reside within the county. The policy to be discussed and voted on Tuesday will act as a suggestion in hiring county employees rather than attempted to force the decision with an ordinance. The policy will ask to give the preference to employment candidates living in Vermilion County.

As officeholders and department heads they make their hiring decisions, they “can take that into account,” Weinard said of the policy.

Following the 2010 ordinance, it 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.

Currently, there are around 250 non-union employees for the county. Weinard has estimated that only as many as 15 positions would be affected by the residential policy.

 Board members will use a new format Tuesday in hearing from members of the public during monthly board meetings.

As of Tuesday, audience comments will be split into two sections. Audience members with comments regarding issues on the agenda will speak at the beginning of the meeting. Those in the audience with comments on issues not before the board must wait until just before the meeting adjourns to air their concerns and opinions.

Weinard said the change is procedure has been discussed for some time.

“We have a tradition and with the Open Meetings Act, we are still obligated to let people talk about whatever’s on their mind,” he said.