Wednesday, October 19, 2011

New Blaine Manor levy suggested

County commissioners balk at proposal


By KATHERINE WUTZ
Express Staff Writer

With the end of the county's Blaine Manor levy looming ahead, the county may be asked to put another senior care levy on the ballot.

County Commissioner Angenie McCleary said during a commissioners meeting Tuesday that she was approached last week by members of the Blaine Manor board who suggested that the facility's continuing debt problems may be alleviated by the county's issuing another levy on county property taxes.

"I want to make it clear that the board [of county commissioners] had not even considered that," McCleary said. "Certainly, the county will be looking at other options."

The first Blaine Manor levy, approved by voters in November 2010, was meant to collect $1.9 million over two years to support the Hailey facility. That amount was intended to cover the manor's operating deficit for three years, until a new, tiered-care facility called Croy Canyon Ranch could be built.

Fundraising for the ranch stood at $9.2 million short of its goal at last report in July, raising the question of whether the ranch will be built by the time the levy funds run out. But putting another levy on next year's ballot would raise questions about the county's role in senior care, McCleary said.

"Our board will need to have that conversation before we even consider a levy," she said. "The policy in the past is that the board has been trying to get out of the senior care business."

Commissioner Larry Schoen both raised the issue and balked at the idea of a permanent levy to fund Blaine Manor or another senior care facility.

"Such an idea of a permanent levy is a major policy decision," he said, adding that he hoped future discussions would focus on the broader issue of how to address senior care in Blaine County rather than on how to fund either Blaine Manor or the Croy Canyon Ranch.

McCleary agreed, saying public input would be needed before any decisions on an additional levy are made or even considered.

Katherine Wutz: kwutz@mtexpress.com




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