WATERLOO — At least one member of the Black Hawk County Board of Supervisors is changing his position and will now consider the county’s possible sale of the Country View care facility as a way to keep it open.
Supervisors Board Chairman Craig White voted Tuesday against hiring a Chicago firm, Marcus & Millichap, to explore a possible sale. That option failed then on a 3-2 board vote. But White has reconsidered and said he would be remiss if he did not explore a possible sale as a way to keep Country View open, regardless of who owns it, as long as the residents and employees are protected.
The board is slated to vote again on the matter 9 a.m. today prior to a budget work session. White would be a swing vote in favor of exploring a sale, barring any other board members changing their vote.
White served for decades on the facility’s care review committee and spoke of his strong emotional ties to the residents there. He said he is committed to keeping the facility open, whether it’s under public or private ownership.
“It will stay open as a facility to help people who are most vulnerable,” White said. “I have to keep an open mind and do due diligence to my job and look at all aspects, for the taxpayers’ protection” as well as the residents and employees.
White said Marcus & Millichap would not be paid unless there is a sale, and he would insist any sale be predicated on a number of stipulations.
“We have to protect the clients. We have to protect the wages and we have to protect the employees,” he said. He also noted Marcus & Millchap has a track record of working out similar transactions regarding nursing homes.
“I have a duty to put it back on myself and look at the process and see where it goes,” White said, noting the board still would still have the option of rejecting any firm sale proposal.
Supervisor Tom Little, who also voted against exploring a sale Tuesday, said he also asked the matter be brought back for reconsideration Thursday. He said he voted “no” Tuesday because he thought the matter was brought to a vote too hastily. He was still reviewing all the information from Marcus & Millicap and suspected others were too.
“I’ll know more tomorrow (Thursday) than I did Tuesday,” Little said Wednesday morning, but added he had not yet decided how he’ll vote.
Supervisor Chris Schwartz also voted against exploring a sale and Supervisors Linda Laylin and Frank Magsamen voted in favor of it.
The supervisors are looking at raising an additional $2 million in property taxes to subsidize Country View while they consider a sale. The county budget hearing for the 2018-19 fiscal year is March 6.
Country View is one of just two county-owned nursing homes in Iowa, the other being in Dubuque. Clients at the nursing home area primarily funded by Medicaid dollars, which are only covering about 80 percent of the cost of running Country View. The county has had various issues with the operations of the facility for more than 30 years.