County unsure when new tax mechanism for nursing homes will be implemented

The mechanism is in place, but it is uncertain when the South St. Louis County Special Taxing District for the Chris Jensen Nursing Home will come into play.

The mechanism is in place, but it is uncertain when the South St. Louis County Special Taxing District for the Chris Jensen Nursing Home will come into play.

The district was authorized by the Legislature in response to concerns that northern St. Louis County was helping support the facility but not getting the benefits.

"It came out of concerns over a concentration of nursing homes in south St. Louis County," said Duluth lobbyist Kevin Walli. He said a related issue was moving 29 nursing home beds up north.

St. Louis County legislative analyst John Ongaro said the transfer was in the human services bill but will still have to be approved by the state Nursing Home Bed Moratorium Committee. The beds are intended for White Community Hospital in Aurora.

Another factor was a bill by Rep. Tom Rukavina, DFL-Virginia, that if the county provides any financial aid to a nursing home, it would have to provide the same aid to a nursing home on the Range. The bill was withdrawn.


As a result, the county board can establish a special taxing district to cover certain operating costs associated with Chris Jensen. These costs can then be recovered through property taxes on south county cities and townships. Included are the cities of Duluth, Proctor, Hermantown, Brookston, Floodwood and Meadowlands.

The townships are Alborn, Alden, Arrowhead, Brevator, Canosia, Culver, Duluth, Elmer, Fine Lakes, Floodwood, Fredenberg, Gnesen, Grand Lake, Halden, Industrial, Lakewood, Meadowlands, Midway, Ness, New Independence, Normanna, Northland, North Star, Pequaywan, Prairie Lake, Rice Lake, Solway, Stoney Brook, Van Buren and unorganized townships of 52-21, 53-16 and 53-15.

For the first year, the maximum levy cannot exceed 1.9 percent of the district's tax capacity. It drops a fraction following years.

The measure requires approval by county commissioners and the formation of a nine-member board. Three county commissioners will be on the board, along three members from Duluth, two of whom must be city councilors. One member will represent Proctor and Hermantown and the other two will represent the rest of the cities and townships.

After the board is formed, all the assets, liabilities, employees and property of Chris Jensen shall be transferred from the county to the district.

County administrator David Twa said he did not yet know how much the county might save by getting rid of Chris Jensen. He said those savings were not expected to be available until late 2004.

Chris Jensen showed up at about $12.8 million in the county's 2003 budget. Most of its support comes from the general fund. There are also nursing home bond payments.

Several years ago, there was an unsuccessful attempt to share the cost of Chris Jensen and the now closed Nopeming nursing home with other counties whose residents used the facilities.

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