Voters approved a new tax levy Nov. 3 to help Pioneer Place meeting operational costs. (The Enterprise/Pat Caldwell)

VALE – John Nalivka was a grateful man after the Nov. 3 general election.

The board chair of Pioneer Place skilled nursing and assisted living and rehabilitation center said he breathed a sigh of relief after area voters approved a new tax to enable the facility to cover climbing operating expenses.

“On behalf of the staff and the board members of Pioneer Place we all say a big thank you,” said Nalivka.

The new tax – 47.74 cents per $1,000 of assessed value – was approved by a margin of almost 600 votes - 1,629 to 1,036.

The new tax is expected to raise about $276,000 a year.

Pioneer Place is a government entity and a five-member board of residents oversees the facility.

Besides Nalivka, others on the board are Dennis Buttice, Karlene Keller, Kerri Wenger and Cathy Judy. Pioneer Place collects property taxes now, but that can only be used to pay off the loan to finance building the facility.

Voter approval, said Nalivka, shows area residents believe Pioneer Place is important.

“It verified that to me,” he said.

Nalivka said it can be easy to forget the role Pioneer Place plays in people’s lives.

“It’s like a lot of things. You don’t think about it much. Then when something comes up you say, ‘Gee whiz, we need to support our nursing home,’” he said.

Nalivka said Pioneer Place won’t see the new tax money until “early 2022.”

Meanwhile, he said, the facility will watch costs “very, very closely.”

He said the board does not plan any major operational changes in the future.

“This is a situation where it is a facility for elderly residents and you don’t want to cut back on the care,” said Nalivka.

Quality care, he said, is Pioneer Place’s “top priority.”

Pioneer Place, he said, is the only long-term care facility in Malheur County. The fact it is a local institution is also important, said Nalivka.

“When people get to the point where their parents or someone in the family is going to move into assisted living or a nursing home, they don’t want to have to drive 30 miles away to go visit them,” he said.

Nalivka said some new Covid restrictions at the facility won’t change soon. Access to residents is restricted because of the Covid epidemic.

“That is the protocol we have been working on. The only people we have allowed into the facility is if they have a family member who is in their last days. And even that has been very, very restrictive,” he said.

News tip? Contact reporter Pat Caldwell at [email protected]

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