Taxpayers paying price for Hillcrest financial problems

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Just when it seemed the controversy over the new county jail was dying down, complications from mismanagement of the county-owned nursing home have the potential to derail the whole plan.

The project is on a tight budget as it is, voters having turned down county commissioners' first choice, allowing the new law enforcement center to be financed outside the state-mandated levy lid of 50 cents per $100 of valuation.

Now, because the nursing home failed to bill Medicare and Medicaid properly for several months, county taxpayers will lend the home $1 million, at 3.55 percent interest, for five years, an annual payment of $221,000.

The county already advanced Hillcrest $300,000 from the inheritance fund in June, and the Hillcrest Nursing Home Foundation already put $200,000 into a construction project, although it can't put funds into day-to-day operations. [CORRECTION: Although county commissioners discussed advancing Hillcrest $300,000 from the inheritance fund in June, the transfer was not actually made.]

Hillcrest needs to make the last two bond payments -- $165,000 each, one Nov. 1 and one next year -- on a previous 20-year bond for the last major construction project.

For a current $3.5 million project, the home owes $314,606 in June and $596,626 in August.

Hillcrest Nursing Home is a good facility, providing a vital service, and it is regrettable that it has been left in such straits.

In the recent past, Hillcrest officials have been less than forthcoming about finances, despite repeated reminders from this newspaper that as a county-owned home, it is subject to open records and open meeting laws.

County taxpayers are now paying the price for that lack of openness.

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  • Our area needs Hillcrest. The county is in a difficult position with the nursing home, the jail and road funding needed to match the state for road improvements, plus the comments made by commissioners that they may need to cut programs and pay if the taxpayers said no to the jail bond-which they did. Best wishes to the commissioners on the fiscal problems.

    -- Posted by dennis on Wed, Jul 11, 2012, at 2:34 PM
  • I commend the Gazette for trying to get to the bottom of this BIG issue. This has nothing to do with the jail! At least the taxpayer, whether we agreed or disagreed with the jail, we knew what was going on. The Hillcrest problem is evidently suppose to just go away! The commissioners have admitted they were blindsided by this, who answered to them? Who showed them the books? I don't think we should hold them solely responsible for this. They thought they had a trusted board that was overseeing the county interest. Which obviously they were not!! Keep digging Gazette, don't let this just go away! The taxpayer and most importantly, the elderly in this county not only deserve an answer, they have earned it!

    -- Posted by smz on Wed, Jul 11, 2012, at 4:20 PM
  • Now, because the nursing home failed to bill Medicare and Medicaid properly for several months, county taxpayers will lend the home $1 million...SO HOW DOES THIS HAPPEN ?

    -- Posted by tmz on Wed, Jul 11, 2012, at 6:55 PM
  • TMZ, it's County-owned. The billing clerk wasn't doing her job, the Administrator wasn't doing her job (both dismissed), the Board wasn't doing their job (failing to discuss issues with County & public). We, as taxpayers, need to make it clear that they (the Board at Hillcrest) is responsible for their actions (or lack thereof) and publicly admit their wrongdoings and move forward with PUBLIC RECORD KEEPING. Or remove themselves and appoint others who are more responsible for the public's money. Unfortunately, it's us who has to pay for their mistakes and disregard to our money. Now, we may have to forego a much needed jail and much needed road repairs. THANK YOU HILLCREST BOARD!

    -- Posted by Rural Citizen on Thu, Jul 12, 2012, at 1:42 PM
  • Just seems like the blind leading the blind. I don't understand all the remodeling when the financial side is unknown. Tired of picking up the blunders.

    -- Posted by trenton on Fri, Jul 13, 2012, at 5:51 PM
  • The billing clerk was doing her job and in fact was the one who "blew the whistle" and got fired by the administrator who didn't like it! Also the billing clerk is now training the new employees who are taking care of it! Get the story straight!

    -- Posted by happyhealer on Tue, Jul 17, 2012, at 6:49 PM
  • The board should step down . They are the overseer of all financial matters and if it took three months to discover there was an issue so large they were clearly asleep at the wheel.

    -- Posted by Ed on Tue, Jul 17, 2012, at 10:14 PM
  • I find the comments people are making regarding the nursing home staff (current and past)and board members amazing. Unless you were directly involved, you have no idea what took place and should not speculate or assume you understand. The financial situation is very unfortunate, and is definately not the result of Medicare and Medicaid billing not being completed for a few months. Anyone with any financial understanding would know this. I want to commend the board for the job they do. It is a job they have all spent countless hours doing, especially over the past several months. They do not get paid for and is very thankless. They were kept in the dark by the administrator and were lucky enough to have been enlightened by hnh staff, too bad it just wasn't sooner.

    -- Posted by hnh employee on Thu, Aug 2, 2012, at 10:21 PM
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