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by Mark Cheffey
The Marion County Nursing Home District will be going to voters in April for funding to help keep Maple Lawn Nursing Home in Palmyra operational.
If approved by a simple majority, Proposition A, as it will appear on the April 4 Municipal Election ballot, would raise the Marion County Nursing District’s property tax levy by 12 cents from the current 13 cents to 25 cents per $100 assessed valuation.
“This will allow us to at least keep the doors open,” said Jesse Soondrum, the Maple Lawn Nursing Home administrator, who indicated the levy increase is key to the facility’s survival.
“If we do not succeed in this election then we are facing the imminent danger of having to sell our assets to buy some time but eventually having to either close the doors or sell to a corporate entity,” said Soondrum, who indicated the nursing home has done all it can to stay in operation despite rising costs without obtaining additional revenue.
“We have tried very hard to stay afloat last year, but we will not be able to do this for very long with the rapid increase of labor cost, food and medical equipment prices,” Soondrum said. “The Medicaid reimbursement is still a long way behind what the actual cost for a resident is.”
Although Maple Lawn is not-for-profit, costs continue to rise while revenues remain flat.
“And, it has become increasingly difficult to maintain a good level of staffing, standard of care and census while making sure we are not losing money,” Soondrum said.
If approved, the levy increase would be the nursing home district’s first-ever tax levy increase since the 1980s.
“And, if we did not need the help, we would not have made the request to the population of Marion County, but here we are, and the residents of the county will have to make the decision on whether they want their nursing home to keep running or to fall into the hands of a corporate run company.”
The district sought a 22-cent increase in the levy last August, but it was overwhelmingly defeated by a county-wide vote of 1,833 (38 percent) in favor to 3,105 (62 percent) against.
The issue even lost in Palmyra, where Maple Lawn is located, by a 376 to 469 margin.