The Glasgow Courier - Serving Proudly As The Voice Of Valley County Since 1913

By A.J. Etherington
The Courier 

Tax District Proposed to Fund Valley View Home

 


Co-chairs of the Valley View Home Long Term Care Task Force, Don Fast and Tom Markle, sat down with the Courier to discuss the sustainability of Valley View Home, and their proposed solution to operating a deficit. Established in March of 2017, the task force was charged with fixing the viability of Valley View Home in order to guarantee its success into the foreseeable future. In short, their solution in the long term to funding shortages at the home is to establish a “special hospital district” in order to fund the facility’s operations and maintenance through property taxes.

After finding solutions to issues such as last year’s state inspection shortfalls, resident population reductions under prior management, and more local nurses verse contract nurses, the home is still suffering from a budget deficit that averages out at nearly $300,000 per year. The reason given by Markle and Fast was that Medicaid reimbursements for Medicaid-qualified residents are at a rate of $173.52 per day, but the home spends roughly $236 per day on each resident, and only charges self pay residents $225 per day. Currently, Valley View is attempting to reduce daily costs to a sustainable $215 per day, but the budget shortfall is not likely to change anytime soon.

With 70 percent of residents qualifying for Medicaid coverage, the shortfall has taken a significant toll on the facility’s reserve capital. As a result, the facility focused on operating costs and neglected maintenance, causing a current need to spend funds on updating the building’s infrastructure, most of which will be spent on the roof. This adds to the need of the facility in the short term.

In short, the solution to the funding crisis proposed by the task force is to immediately establish a 10 mil levy to be placed on the ballot this September. The levy would consist of an increase of roughly $13.50 per $100,000 of property value through 2018 and 2019, to cover the immediate coming years of Valley View’s future. It would raise roughly $300,000 in revenue for each year it runs, and would cover the years until the permanent solution can be implemented.

That permanent solution, to guarantee operating costs are met in perpetuity, would be to establish a permanent special tax district known as a “special hospital district,” which allows for the collection of up to 10 mils, or roughly $300,000 at the present tax rate in Valley County, per year. The “special hospital district” would appear on an election ballot in May of 2018, and would not take affect until 2020. The district will be administered by an elected board of trustees who can increase and decrease the required revenue but cannot exceed the 10 mil limit.

It is worth noting that the “hospital district” would have no affiliation with Frances Mahon Deaconess Hospital, nor would it support any other institution other than Valley View Home. “Hospital district” merely refers to the type of tax district being utilized under Montana Code Annotated, Title 7, Chapter 34, Part 21.

According to Markle and Fast, the establishment of a “hospital district” to fund long term care facilities has become common place with 18 rural counties in Montana having implemented similar districts including neighboring Garfield, McCone, Roosevelt and Daniels counties.

When asked if other solutions were considered, Fast responded emphatically with, “closing the facility,” driving home the point that Valley View’s future is on the line, adding, “A society is judged by how it treats its most vulnerable citizens. This is not about us, not about the district, it is about making sure our elders have quality care.”

In order to get on the May 2018 ballot the initiative will need to raise a petition of signatures consisting of 30 percent of the voters. The task force will begin acquiring those signatures as soon as possible, but notably will have information booths available at the County Fair in August.

For more information about the need for a district, and the process please visit http://www.voteyesvalleyview.org.

 

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