Traverse City Record-Eagle

September 24, 2013

Maples workers face cutbacks

Traverse City Record-Eagle

---- — FRANKFORT — Some employees at the Maples Medical Care Facility are facing a choice between reduced work hours or the unemployment line.

“We have to make some cutbacks with staffing,” the facility’s new administrator, Kathleen Dube, said Monday.

Dube said approximately 14 staffers at the publicly-run nursing home were offered the option of layoffs or reduced hours. So far, Dube said, only one employee has opted for being laid off.

The staffing issues apply to certified nursing assistants. Employees were given two weeks to decide what they want to do after consulting with their union.

The staffing cutbacks follow a difficult discussion for the county about the future of the taxpayer-backed facility, which has struggled financially. It was revealed earlier this year that the Maples owed the county $484,000, prompting an extensive repayment agreement.

The balance of the money owed to the county by the Maples is now at $184,000. The Maples made a scheduled $25,000 payment towards that balance last week, said county Treasurer Michelle Thompson.

A 0.365-mill levy for the Maples that expires in 2016 brings in about $350,000 a year for operational costs. A 0.635-mill building tax brings in about $700,000 annually to pay for construction costs. 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 discussion about privatizing the Maples was rejected after public outcry. County Commissioner Roger Griner said the cuts at the Maples are painful but necessary.

“I think the Maples got the message that they are not geting any extra money to operate,” Griner said. “They’ve got to make it on their own.”