The Clarkfield City Council voted Tuesday night to enter into the state run equitable cost sharing program for publicly owned nursing facilties (ECPN program) on behalf of the Clarkfield Care Center.
As is mandated by the program, the city will raise the Care Center's private pay rate by $5 a day and invest $2,078.35 a month, or $24,940.20 annually in the program. In return, the state will pay the Care Center $6,209 a month; providing the facility with $74,509.18 in extra yearly revenue. So, for every dollar the city pays to the state, the Center receives $3.
Concurrently, the Clarkfield City Council decided to pursue establishment of a PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) with the Care Center, which is owned by the city. The PILOT would be at a rate that would be equal to what a regular business pays in taxes for municipal services. The Care Center, as a city owned entity, is exempt from those taxes. Estimates, according to City Administrator Scott Weske, have PILOT rate equaling roughly $20,000. That $20,000 that the Care Center would pay the city with the PILOT, should nearly offset the city's $24,940.20 payment to the state for the ECPN program.
According to Care Center Administrator, Paul Luitjens, the city can pull out of the ECPN program at any time.
The Clarkfield Care Center is managed by Ecumen, a senior housing, aging services and long-term care provider. In the city's agreement with company Ecumen receives four percent of the facility's total revenue—which now includes the $74,509.18 garnered from the ECPN program.
At issue for the council when deciding to enter the ECPN program, was the mandated raise in the private pay rate.
The city chose to raise the rate by $5 for 2013. Currently 20-25 percent, or 7-8 individuals, are private pay resident at the Care Center. At $5 more per day, they'll spend $1,800 more a year for residency.
"You have 25 percent of these people who do the right thing and save all their lives for retirement and they're the ones getting hit by this," said Clarkfield Mayor Gene Kockelman.
The motion to join the ECPN program and set up the PILOT agreement with the Care Center was carried with councilmen Neil Linscheid, Robert Schlenner and Francis Staab for the motion and councilman Dave Biermaier and Mayor Kockelman opposed.
Tense words and feelings were shared between a pair of citizens and council members as the Clarkfield City Council again discussed a proposed rental ordinance.
That tension would prove for naught later in the meeting as the council decided to table the ordinance until an updated water and sewer ordinance is passed.
After the discussion on the rental ordinance, the council decided that four things would need to be spelled out clearly as the council presents the rental ordinance to the public: feasibility, liability, enforceability and affordability.
Page 2 of 2 - The two citizens at the meeting that showed concern for the ordinance were Shannon Williams and Connie Tongen, both landlords with property in Clarkfield. Their concerns covered the procedure for the inspections that the ordinance currently calls for and the city's handling of unpaid water bills.
"This (ordinance) needs to be fair," said Shannon Williams. "There's so many protections for renters, but I'm having a hard time finding protection for landlords."
Williams said she's for a rental ordinance and the responsibility it enforces, but she worries about cost.
An exchange between Williams and councilman Schlenner, during the discussion, left both parties feeling disrespected, yet the argument had little effect on further discussion and was rendered largely a moot point.
As for the updating of the water and sewer ordinance, the council expects that its passing will lend teeth to any future rental ordinance and will clear up many of the problems faced by tenents and landlords in the city.
The council expects an updated water and sewer ordinance to help with the problem of collecting bills, spell out in black and white who is responsible for the payments and provide a succinct timeline for late fees and shut offs.