When the Buena Vista County Board of Supervisors met Tuesday they set a public hearing for November 10 at 10 a.m. to discuss selling the County care facility after a decision was made that it was in the best interest of the County to sell the property. The hearing will help decide whether or not to sell it and how the county would plan to sell it. The County will accept bids up through Jan. 16 at 4:30 p.m. in the County Auditor's office.
"I hope that the building will continue to be used as a healthcare facility," says Sue Morrow, Administrator with Spectra Health Care. Morrow said when the building was built a bond issue was passed by the people of the County desiring to have a mental health care facility. Morrow said she feels it is an asset and says it helps keeps family and friends from traveling as far as 50 to 100 miles to visit residents. She says other counties are looking at different funding streams, looking at different types of care. However, Morrow said some individuals are not able to live on their own independently in an apartment.
She says none of the counties surrounding Buena Vista County has a similar facility. "The nearest one is LeMars and Okoboji," she says. "The number of available beds are getting fewer and fewer." Morrow said if Spectra were able to purchase the building they could continue operation or if someone else purchased it and leased it out they could continue operation. However, Morrow says if Spectra does purchase it, it would increase operating costs.
The Spectra County Care Facility building, was county run up until 1986 when it was privatized by Spectra who took over the mental health care. The County had concerns about whether or not they should remain in a landlord position or should sell the remainder of the property and completely go private. In June the Supervisors approved a motion to hire an appraiser to put a value on the facility to see what it was worth.
According to Supervisor Ken Hach, the operator of Spectra has not had a contract with the County for a number of years and currently BV County doesn't have any clients at the facility. Hach said he felt it was in the best interest of the county to reduce the liability. "We would have never done this if had had 20 of our own people there," added Supervisor Lorna Burnside. Over the years the Board said the facility has had some monthly repair and maintenance expenses that have been in excess of the rent cost.
In other County news:
*Former Supervisor Bill Lanphere presented a sanitary sewer district petition to the Supervisors Tuesday for the residents of Casino Beach. "If you want to sit on it, I can sit on it for another four weeks," said Lanphere. The Board decided to accept the petition. Chairman Dale Arends said he felt the board would need a "pretty compelling reason" not to accept it and says he couldn't think of a reason.
Lanphere said he received 37 signatures with one person asking to have their signature removed from the petition. However, Lanphere said he was only required to have 25 signatures. "Of all the doors I knocked on I only had two decline (to sign)," said Lanphere. He added that he wasn't able to reach some residents because they were not home. The Board is scheduled to set a hearing date possibly in January to arrange an election for a sanitary sewer district.
The County also approved a motion to accept Kuehl and Payer to complete a preliminary engineering survey to see what options are feasible in the areas south of the lake and Lake Creek. Along with filing a petition for an election, Iowa Code requires that Lanphere post bond in an amount that is determined by the County Auditor, for the purpose of covering expenses of the election. This includes publication of all notices, ballots and election officials.
*Patrick Schmitz, Executive Director at Plains Area Mental Health reported he felt the Plains Area Mental Health had a smooth transition after opening a facility in Storm Lake on July 1. He says he feels they are receiving good response from the community. He said with five person serving has been adequate to meet their needs. Schmitz said they like their current facility located on Railroad, which they are currently leasing on a monthly basis until December 2009. "It give us time to look for a more permanent home," said Schmitz.
He says some issues they'll look at addressing in next couple months is finding a Board of Supervisors liaison to sit on the Plains Board. He says while the liaison member is a nonvoting member they will be able to offer ideas and feedback. He said they'll also be seeking a regular community member to serve as a board member. He said individuals didn't need to be in the medical profession or work with persons with disabilities. "We're open to looking at a variety of people," he said.