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Pleasant View referendum: Keep it open, or close it down?
If vote fails, nursing home could be sold or closed entirely
Pleasant View Nursing Home vote yes
Graphic courtesy Synqronus Communications Pleasant View Nursing Home is Green County’s only publicly-operated nursing home. On Tuesday, April 2, county voters will decide whether to maintain a $790,000 increase that’s been on the books for more a decade.

MONROE — The county’s only publicly operated nursing home is fighting for its life.

That is what officials at Pleasant View Nursing Home want county voters to understand once again, as they go to the polls this spring and see yet another referendum asking for more tax dollars. This one is different they say — because the stakes are so high for aging county residents; and because, unlike other institutions in recent years, Pleasant View is not trying to get millions for a building.

The referendum question before voters is: “Under state law, the increase in the levy of the County of Green for the tax to be imposed for the fiscal year 2025, is limited to 1.124%, which results in a levy of $14,375,715. Shall the County of Green be allowed to exceed this limit and increase the levy for the next six fiscal years, 2025 through 2030, for the exclusive purpose of paying for a portion of the cost of the operational and capital expenses of the county-owned Pleasant View Nursing Home, by a total of 5.495%, which amounts to a levy increase of $790,000 per year, which results in an approximate total of county levy of $15,165,715 starting (in) 2025.”

The referendum continues the funding request approved through a similar ballot measure put before voters in 2018. The question at that time asked for the levy to maintain at an increase of $790,000 each year through 2024. The total county levy was then at about $13.88 million. 

Officials also note that if the referendum passes — as the last one did in 2018 with nearly 54% of the votes, a winning margin by nearly 3,000 — it does not affect the current Green County tax contribution. But officials also say that taxpayers have become weary of referendum questions and higher taxes generally in recent years, making the “political environment” trickier for the referendum’s chances this time around. Still, they emphasize that they are only trying to keep Pleasant View open and viable.

“The ask is the same as what they (taxpayers) have been paying,” said Maria Johnson, administrator at the nursing home. 

The need for such an increase is simple according to a campaign web site and Facebook page to urge a yes vote on the referendum.

“Someday your friends or family may need round-the-clock care,” says a message, one of many on the web site. “Most people are unable to stop their lives to provide it. Pleasant View has been there for many families in times of need. Let us continue with this proud tradition.”

Indeed, public nursing homes around the country are closing or being acquired by private companies to stay open, experts say. Pressured by rising costs, labor shortages and slow-paying insurance and government agencies, nursing homes public and private are finding it harder each year to break even.

About 188 such homes closed in 2023, and almost 690 since 2020, according to recent industry statistics. The trend has been accelerating, too, with more than half of the 555 closures since June 2017. To bolster its case to remain strong, Pleasant View also created personalized video clips of residents and family and friends talking on social media about how vital the facility has been to them. 

And it is emphasizing its range of services to some of the most vulnerable in Green County.

Among the many unique services, the home offers the first of its kind in Wisconsin, O’Rourke Dementia Stabilization Unit. The unit prepares this area for the future care of an aging population; and is on the leading edge of balancing home and nursing home services for clients and caregivers, officials said, adding that others around the state are interested in copying Green County’s program.

“It’s a successful program for us, and one of those things that has us prepared for the future,” Johnson said, noting that the new program pays for itself in the nursing home’s budget. Indeed, the goal is always to get Pleasant View as close to self-sufficient financially as possible, she said. “It would be nice to never have to ask for referendum money again.”