Wednesday, February 6, 2013

County: Senior care could cost $8M

Commissioner says keeping Blaine Manor would be pricey

Express Staff Writer

    A decision to retain senior care at Blaine Manor under management by TanaBell Health Services and leave the door open for a future facility built by the Croy Canyon Ranch Foundation could cost county taxpayers as much as $8 million, Commissioner Larry Schoen and county staff said last week.
    The discussion arose during a commissioners meeting Thursday when Schoen said a proposal from Pocatello-based Safe Haven Health Care to build a new facility near Bellevue and a proposal from Blaine Manor to add assisted-living beds would provide about the same level of service, but the Blaine Manor proposal would be much more expensive to taxpayers.
    Schoen said that cost would result from three things:

  • A $4 million tax levy to continue funding of operations at Blaine Manor until it’s taken over by TanaBell and construction of the 20 to 25 assisted-living units, which are expected to help the facility make a profit.
  • The loss of at least $2.5 million from the potential sale of Blaine Manor. The sale would occur if its patients were to be transferred to the Safe Haven facility.
  • The loss of about $1 million from the sale of land in Croy Canyon now owned by the Croy Canyon Ranch Foundation but which would revert to county ownership if it is not used for a senior-care facility. If Safe Haven is chosen as the county’s preferred senior-care option, the land could be put up for sale; TanaBell has left the door open to a potential partnership with the Croy Canyon Ranch Foundation that could result in a facility’s being built on the property sometime in the future.

    In May 2007, a non-binding advisory vote showed voters supported the transfer of proceeds from a potential sale of Blaine Manor to the Croy Canyon Ranch Foundation to help with construction costs. County Clerk JoLynn Drage said Thursday that while the county had estimated the worth of that property at $6 million at the time, its value has likely dropped to $2.5 million.
    An agreement between the county and Croy Canyon Ranch Foundation states that the county will give the foundation the proceeds from the sale of Blaine Manor if the foundation builds a new facility. However, the agreement has a provision stating that if Croy Canyon Ranch is not deemed to be a viable option, the county can simply withdraw from it.
    The land in Croy Canyon owned by the foundation was bought with a $1 million advance from the county on the proceeds of Blaine Manor’s sale. If the agreement were terminated, the property would revert to county ownership. Schoen said in an interview after the meeting Thursday that the county could then sell that land, receiving up to $1 million.
    “I don’t really know what the value of that property would be today,” he said. “I have to imagine it’s in the neighborhood of half a million to a million, or in that neighborhood.”
    Added to $2.5 million for the Blaine Manor facility and the $4 million levy, Schoen said, the total impact of choosing a proposal from Blaine Manor could have a total impact to the county of anywhere from $6.5 million to $8 million.
    He added that the addition of a levy to support Blaine Manor or the Croy Canyon Ranch Foundation might also “crowd out” any other levy measure or supplemental tax that might come up later this year. He cited the local-option tax for air service as an example, along with a potential levy by the Blaine County Recreation District to renovate the bike path.
     “I think the taxpayers expect us to be picky and careful with how we spend their money,” he said.
    Drage said Thursday that Blaine Manor currently has enough money to last through the end of the fiscal year, but that a levy to fund the facility further would need to be on the May ballot for the county to set the levy in September and have funding available for October.”

Kate Wutz:

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