From the Mayor's Desk

As I promised when I ran for Mayor, I would give you a periodic update on the City happenings.

The City Council has been busy at work implementing the splash park with bathrooms and a warming house for the skaters. The foundation is poured and awaiting building construction. A new skating rink is in the planning and grant writing stage. The plan is to move the skating rink to the new location this fall, but that depends on the warming house being completed in time. A dump station for campers has been installed at Northside Gas Station. All that remains is to put up signage. We are very proud to announce that the city has hired Daniel Lene to replace Dana Knutson in the City Maintenance Department. He will start on Monday, October 2nd. Welcome, Daniel.

Our biggest task has been a coordinated effort with Health Dimensions Group (HDG) and the administration of the Fair Meadow Nursing Home (FMNH).  We have made a large amount of progress towards helping FMNH with their debt and operating excesses. 

Recently, Health Dimensions Group finished a complete audit of the operations of FMNH.  A presentation was given September 25th at the community center. The complete report is on the city web site. To their credit, many strengths were found, namely the excellent patient care and great employees.  The City Council thanks the many people employed at FMNH who give such great patient care on a daily basis.  It was recognized!

During the audit of operating expenditures and income (not including the renovations made to the building) HDG discovered that three years ago, FMNH reported a loss of $13,000.  Two years ago, FMNH reported a $250,000 loss and last year the loss reported was $338,000 as stated in the Eide Baily audit.  HDG  projected 2017 to end with a $179,000 loss.  

HDG has proposed multiple changes to FMNH and has suggested that if all the changes offered were implemented, FMNH could turn a $570,000 savings!  This is astounding news and is an optimistic outlook for the tax payers of Fertile who are ultimately responsible for the nursing homes financial condition and debt.  Recognizing that all the changes suggested by HDG may not be suitable for our operations, the City Council and FMNH administration remain devoted to working together to implement changes that will reduce costs, increase income, while keeping the excellent care FMNH is known for. 

To view the complete assessment of the Fair Meadow Nursing home, click here.

Exciting times are ahead for the FMNH Nursing Home staff!  We are pleased to present to you our plans for help the FMNH Nursing home continue to grow and thrive. The Nursing Home and Assisted Living is a vital part of our community that brings many jobs to our community.  The Nursing Home and Assisted Living is well known for its patient care, and we thank all of you for your efforts to put Fair Meadow and Fertile on the map!

There has been a fair amount of miscommunication regarding the upcoming plans for the FMNH.  We'd like to take this opportunity to set the record straight. 

Here is what we know:

1.            The FMNH was under little or no financial oversight and accountability (with minimal operational oversight) for the past 20 plus years from the City Council.  We as City Council members, understand the danger in not having oversight and ultimately, the success or failure of finances rests on the shoulders of the City and the taxpayers of the City.   The City Council is committed to taking responsibility, as it should have many years ago, for the Fair Meadow Nursing Home and it's financial status.

2.            The FMNH owes the City of Fertile $652,187.33.  As a council member, our obligation is to the taxpayers of the City of Fertile.  While it's true some of this is due to the new Assisted Living, much of it is not. Regardless of where the debt came from, the City has repairs and maintenance needs as well.  Taxpayers do not want a tax increase.  Taxpayers want and expect every entity to operate in the most efficient, cost effective manner.

3.            The FMNH has asked for additional loans from the City in December of 2016.

4.            The FMNH has stated there is no intent or means to pay back loans made under a previous administration at this time.

5.            It has been suggested to increase the tax base to rural Fertile to help pay for the FMNH expenses and its hardships.

Due to the above five facts, it is our duty to ask the Nursing Home to comply with Financial/Administrative counseling.  We have hired a Consulting firm that will assess the operation and financials of the facility.   It is our immediate hope that the FMNH will find a path to financial stability without having to seek out additional funds in loans and find a way to pay back loans that were borrowed in the past.  

1.            Create a pay scale that is not only competitive, but is inviting for employees to want to work at FMNH vs. the competition.

2.            Have a budget allowing for flexibility, maintenance, repairs, and equipment. 

3.            Have policies in place for financial accountability and employee grievances.

4.            Have money management tools that will support the management and the City Council in their decision making.

5.            Provide FMNH with a path to a surplus, so that debt can be decreased and eventually removed.

6.            Should additional tax base be needed, it is our responsibility to provide justification to the new tax base that will support the decision to increase.  A non-biased report stating that the FMNH is running its operation without waste and is using an approach in every area to keep costs down will aid our efforts. 

The decision to hire an outside, non-biased consulting firm is simply a tool that will be used to educate the council as we prepare to provide support to the Fair Meadow Nursing Home administration, as we should have been doing for the past 20 plus years or more. We are devoted to review their recommendations in concert with your administrator to make common sense decisions to continue our reputation on giving excellent patient care in the most efficient manner.    

We are very excited to analyze the final report!  Many good things will come of this and will provide additional stability for the Fair Meadow Nursing Home staff and it's residents.  We look forward to sharing the outcomes with you!