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      Medical facility claims uncertain future without millage

      On November 5, Schoolcraft County voters will have to decide on a millage for 1.5 mills for the Schoolcraft County Medical Care Facility. It will replace their old millage, set to expire next year. The SCMCF said the old mill only covered a specific bill from the State of Michigan and couldn't be used for general operations.

      â??The people here make you feel at home,â?? said temporary resident Leo Lawrence. â??Make you feel like family.â??

      While Leo's stay is temporary, roughly 80 residents call Schoolcraft County Medical Care Facility home. But Mike Stephenson, SCMCF's new Director of Administration and Finance, says without this millage, their future may not be a bright one.

      â??It wouldn't survive long-term,â?? responded Stephenson. â??The organization has to be able to have sufficient revenues to develop cash for future needs.â??

      Other forms of care, such as assisted living and home health care, have reduced residency in SCMCF by nearly 25 percent, resulting in an approximated $2 million loss of revenue a year.

      In response, SCMCF reduced their 2014 budget one million dollars lower than their projected expenses for 2013.

      â??Staff has taken between five and seven percent wage reductions, various positions have been eliminated, and we're really watching every penny,â?? Stephenson said.

      The millage would raise $509,000 the first year; it would cost taxpayers with a home valued at $80,000, $40 per year and be used just to support â??ongoing operations.â??

      â??Salaries and wages, general utility costs,â?? Stephenson explained.

      If the facility were to close, nearly $4 million in wages would be lost from the community, 123 people would be without jobs, local contractors they use for various needs would lose work, and the 80 residents living here would be moved out of county to other facilities.

      A bleak outlook, Stephenson says, can be avoided by voting yes on November 5.