Traverse City Record-Eagle

May 17, 2013

Nursing home promises to repay Benzie $484K

Traverse City Record-Eagle

---- — TRAVERSE CITY — The Maples nursing home officials told Benzie County leaders they will repay $484,000 the county loaned the facility by March 2014.

Judy Martin, the county-run nursing home's interim director, and Michael Stephenson, The Maples' accountant, told county commissioners the nursing home is prepared to enter into a contract with the county to outline exactly how it will repay the money.

“I think the money will be reimbursed,” County Administrator Chris Olson said. “It’s just a matter of time.”

Martin and Stephenson also asked the county to consider additional financial advances to get the facility through what it described as short-term financial difficulties. The total amount of the county-proffered line of credit would not exceed $650,000, including the $484,000 already owed.

Maples administrators blamed recent financial problems on decreased Medicaid-Medicare reimbursements, a temporary downtick in patient numbers and the splitting of a county millage to support the construction of a new nursing home facility in Frankfort. The county is still expected to break ground on a $10 million facility on Maples Avenue in Frankfort, with the plan to keep nursing home services under county's auspices.

A .365 millage for the Maples that expires in 2016 brings in about $350,000 a year for operational costs. A .635 building millage brings in about $700,000 annually to pay for construction costs.

Commissioner Roger Griner said commissioners want to know if the loaned money can be guaranteed as part of the contract for repayment. Some commissioners also want more information on what it might mean to the county if a private contractor was hired to run The Maples.

"If we are going to be playing banker, we want a guarantee," Griner said.