SCBH explores USDA option for assisted living facility

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With no clear direction on how to proceed with City of Benson or Swift County backing on an assisted living/memory care facility, the Swift County-Benson Hospital is taking a closer look at working with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Monday night SCBH Chief Financial Officer Dan Enderson told the council that City Manager Rob Wolfington, City Director of Finance Glen Pederson, Swift County Administrator Mike Pogge-Weaver and himself had met with the USDA’s representative Kevin Friesen of Willmar last week. They discussed financing options as well as what the impact on current design plans would be of going with the federal agency’s funding.

Further, SCBH is looking at the option of having the financing take place through its 501c3 non-profit Scofield Place arm. Enderson was presenting the same overview to the county board of commissioners at their Tuesday morning meeting.

USDA’s current funding cycle ends next month, which would make it difficult for the hospital to have everything together for a financing package. It also needs to know what limitations USDA might put on the current plans. While they are not “extravagant by any means,” the still may be a notch above what USDA considers eligible for funding.

Getting an answer to that question could take three days or 60 days, the group was told.

Because this is an election year, meaning a new president and Congress will be taking office in 2017, funding amounts for the USDA programs to help with hospital construction are uncertain. The hospital wouldn’t know until next February or March about financing for its project, Enderson said.

SCBH’s governing board has pushed to get work started yet this fall on the $12.5 million assisted living/memory care project. However, because of its financial losses over the past couple years, it needs city backing for general obligation or revenue bonds. However, while the city council voted 3-2 to back a bond sale for financing, the county board has yet to take a vote on financing with all five commissioners present.

Council Members Stephanie Heinzig, Jonathon Pogge-Weaver and Terri Collins favored city backing GO bonds while Mayor Gary Landmark and Council Member Jack Evenson opposed it...


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