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Cass County Medical Care Facility millage headed to ballot

By Sarah Culton

CASSOPOLIS — A new millage proposal is heading the August ballot.

Thursday, the Cass County Board of Commissioners hosted its regularly scheduled meeting. In compliance with continuing “Stay Home, Stay Safe” orders in the wake of COVID-19, the meeting was hosted via Zoom video conference.

During the meeting, commissioners voted to approve a millage request by the Cass County Medical Care Facility to be placed on the August ballot. If approved by voters, the .5 mill would levy 50 cents of every $1,000 in state-equalized value of real and personal property in Cass County for five years, starting Dec. 1. The funds raised by the millage, estimated to total $1,165,000 in the first year, would be used to defray the costs of the facility’s operation as well as provide funds for expanding services.

“We would like to upgrade our services and be able to provide more services to our county,” said Cass County Medical Care Facility Administrator Christian Lutes.

The millage request is the first one made by the Cass County Medical Care Facility since 1996. Lutes said the facility initially looked at asking for a one mill millage but decided on a .5 mill millage due to the outbreak of COVID-19.

“We don’t even know what the world will look like in August,” Lutes said. “We are in difficult times, in the throes of a national emergency, so we decided to cut that in half.”

According to Lutes, the millage is necessary as the facility has been facing financial difficulty since 2016. As service costs have increased, the facility has been running at a deficit of $16 per day.

In addition to providing necessary funding to current services, such as outpatient rehabilitation services, adult daycare, assisted living and independent living services, Lutes said the millage would provide an opportunity for the Cass County Medical Care Facility to expand on its services.

One new service that could be offered is outpatient therapy, which would be available to any county resident regardless of age.

“We have taken a step back and looked, and we see that our services are what really sets us apart,” Lutes said of the Cass County Medical Care Facility, which is currently ranked in the top 10 percent of nursing facilities by the state of Michigan. “We would like to expand on that. … This could allow us to provide the services that we are lacking.”

The millage was approved unanimously by the board of commissioners.

“The benefits to the county could be limitless,” Lutes said of the millage.