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County nursing home talks will become public this week

A "letter of intent" regarding a proposal to have Christian Community Home of Hudson take over St. Croix County's nursing home in New Richmond is expected to be finalized this Wednesday, said County Board Chairman Buck Malick.

A proposal review committee will meet in closed session at 10:30 a.m. July 11. Malick said he expects a written summary of the letter of intent will be released at the end of that meeting.

A "major formal information presentation" will be made at the July 17 County Board meeting and some public input will be allowed at that meeting, said Malick.

County supervisors won't vote on the issue that evening. Instead the vote will be taken during the Aug. 7 Board meeting.

The weeks between the two meetings will allow "time for thought, lobbying, editorials, etc.," according to Malick.

Last winter the County Board asked for proposals from businesses interested in buying or renting the 72-bed skilled care nursing home.

In March, Christian Community Home was chosen as the "preferred service provider." The law firm of DeWitt Ross & Stevens and the proposal review committee have represented the county in closed-session negotiations.

While efforts have been made in the last few years to head the nursing home toward self-sufficiency, the property tax levy to support the facility has averaged nearly $1.2 million a year for the last five years.

Some supervisors argue that the county-run home can't be self-supporting because its personnel costs are too high. Those who urge continued county operation of the home counter that privatization will compromise the quality of care the nursing home provides.