VALE – Officials representing the county’s only skilled nursing facility were back before the Malheur County Court last week to seek more than $1 million in additional relief.
Dennis Buttice, chair of the Pioneer Place Board, and board member John Nalivka made the request to the commissioners on Wednesday, Dec. 7. Buttice and Nalivka, along with other members of the Pioneer Place board and key leaders at the facility, were also on hand at the session.
Commissioners Ron Jacobs and Don Hodge were at the meeting but Dan Joyce, Malheur County judge, was absent. They took no action on the request.
The Pioneer Place officials were seeking money from an expected $12 million outlay from the federal government to the county.
Pioneer Place wants $1.1 million to pay for a host of improvements, including a new van, new office space and a new roof for the facility.
“We just want to get our bid in,” said Buttice.
In a letter to the court, Pioneer Place officials listed the items the money would be used for, including – but not limited too – a remodel of shower rooms, new flooring, new washers and driers and 10 new computers along with a new 1,000-gallon water tank.
Pioneer Place is a government entity providing skilled nursing, assisted living and rehabilitation services. A five-member board oversees the facility. The building is funded by a local taxing district, but by law the money can’t be used for operating expenses.
Pioneer Place employs 70 to 80 people with a payroll of about $2.4 million.
Pioneer Place officials initially approached the county about relief last winter. They sought $900,000 to offset financial losses triggered by a significant drop in clients.
In August, the court granted Pioneer Place $150,000, mainly to pay salaries and wages. At that time, Joyce said the initial $150,000 was a “starting point.”
“When you gave us the $150,000 you said if you need more to come back and we are coming back for more,” said Buttice.
Hodge said after the meeting that the facility “will get some (money) but I have no idea what it would be.”
Hodge said he has already received numerous inquiries from various agencies and individuals about funding from the county.
“We are just getting everybody coming to asking for money,” he said.
Jacobs said requests as of last week exceeded $20 million.
At the court session, Lorinda DuBois, the county’s administrative officer, said before any more money is handed out, the county must decide its priorities.
“We need to figure out what our infrastructure needs are, what those costs are,” she said.
DuBois also said an application process for people to apply for the $12 million has to be developed.
“We have a lot of details to work out. We haven’t even applied for the money yet,” she said.
DuBois recently finished work to create a budget for the money once it becomes available. The county is in the process of filling out the application for the $12 million.
Hodge said he and Jacobs and Joyce must confer soon regarding what the next steps will be regarding the federal bailout money.
“We need a chance to assess that,” he said.
Hodge and DuBois said there wasn’t yet a timeline regarding when the county would set its funding priorities.
“We have to do our due diligence. We just need to take our time,” said DuBois.
DuBois said the federal money is a “once in a lifetime shot in the arm.”
“So that’s why we really need to look at our infrastructure needs, come up with a list, priorities. So that is where the direction of the court is kind of going right now – evaluate the county’s needs, see how much that will cost and then what is remaining we can come up with some sort of process for an application,” said DuBois.
Hodge said there is no shortage of priorities.
“There are so many projects out there,” he said.
News tip? Contact reporter Pat Caldwell at [email protected].
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