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County considers building new home

After failing to reach a consensus on two new proposals from private businesses, St. Croix County supervisors voted Tuesday to get estimates on the cost of building a new county-owned nursing home and an assisted living facility.

Those numbers are expected to be presented to the Board Jan. 15.

The county provides tax levy support for the nursing home, which is located in New Richmond. Despite a series of cost-saving measures, the home is expected to cost the county $8.4 million over the next five years.

Supervisors voted in late 2006 to solicit proposals from private or non-profit businesses to buy or take over the county home.

Christian Community Home of Hudson, a likely contender, withdrew its proposal in July of this year after the New Richmond City Council voted to oppose privatization of the county home.

Tuesday an ad hoc committee presented preliminary proposals from two other companies and asked for County Board direction before spending more time and money on "significant discussions and negotiations."

Here are summaries of the two proposals:

• Health Dimensions Group -- a Minneapolis-based ownership, management and consulting firm -- proposes building a new $11.3-million nursing home in New Richmond.

Health Dimensions would take over operations of the county home until the new facility was opened. During the transition period, all staff -- except the administrator -- would remain county employees. The county would pay 5 percent of gross receipts for management services.

Health Dimensions would require a county subsidy of up to $6 million to develop and build the new home and expect the county to pay about $800,000 to subsidize first-year operations.

Early in the transition period, Health Dimensions would assess staffing. About six months prior to completion of the new building, it would begin contract negotiations with the union.

• Presbyterian Homes, a non-profit that jointly owns and operates a senior living campus in New Richmond, proposed buying 50 of the 72 nursing home beds currently held by the county. PH is offering to pay between $6,000 and $12,000 per bed -- a total of $300,000 to $600,000.

The non-profit, which is affiliated with Westfields Hospital, would build a new nursing home on the grounds of its current operations.

Some positions for the new facility would likely be filled from within the PH organization. Applications would be taken for the remaining jobs.

A motion by River Falls Supervisor Chuck Struemke to continue to negotiate with Presbyterian Homes to sell 50 nursing home beds for a minimum of $9,000 apiece failed on a vote of 6-17.