A city ‘bed fee’ on assisted living? – Hasso Hering


A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

A city ‘bed fee’ on assisted living?

Written August 2nd, 2019 by Hasso Hering

Waverly Place on Salem Avenue, photographed on July 25, is one of the properties that would be affected by a city “assisted living facility bed fee.”

One of the ways that the Albany City Council might try to raise additional money is to charge assisted-living homes an extra fee beyond their city taxes. Whether this idea gets anywhere remains to be seen, but as of now it’s still on a list of nine potential new revenue sources the council has been thinking about.

According to the list, assisted-living homes in Albany have about 1,000 residents, so at $200 per bed a year, such a fee would yield around $200,000 annually.

This doesn’t sound like much in comparison to the city’s general fund, which averages $43 million a year in the 2019-21 biennium. But it likely would be a big deal to individual residents living in these quarters, whose expenses probably would increase by $17 a month, as Councilman Alex Johnson II has pointed out.

The rationale behind the proposal is that according to the Albany Fire Department, assisted-living facilities make up a disproportionate share of non-medical calls for service. The department often responds to assisted-living homes to help someone who has fallen and can’t get up.

The operators of these facilities might point out that they’re already paying plenty for this service. Bonaventure in North Albany, for example, paid nearly $74,000 in city taxes alone in 2018, including $10,599 for the police and fire local option tax. And city taxes on Waverly Place, on Salem Avenue, totaled more than $63,000. (Taxes for schools, county government and other functions are not included in these numbers.)

What else is on the list of potential city revenue ideas?

♦ One item is the soda tax of 1 or 2 cents an ounce, as reported here last week. (My guess was that at 1 cent per ounce, it would yield about $900,000.) Here are the others:

♦ Increase the public-safety local-option property tax levy, which comes up for renewal in the May 2020 primary election. A 10-cent per thousand increase would yield about $350,000.

♦ Raise the membership fee in the city’s Fire Med program, now $65 a year. A $5 increase would yield about $12,000 a year, based on last year’s membership total of nearly 2,400.

♦ Impose an additional fee on city utility bills to help support the police and fire departments, or the parks, or the library system, or all three. The list before the council specifies no amounts, and a majority of council members have said they would require an election on any fee like that.

♦ Update the land-use application fees charged by the city planning division.

♦ Establish an indigent defense fund for the municipal court. If it was funded by a $25 fee per conviction or guilty plea in city court, the total might be $40,000 or $50,000 a year.

♦ Use the one million dollars the city got from Linn County for the former police headquarters on Jackson Street, now the base of the parole and probation department.

♦ Get voter approval of a bond issue of up to $20 million for street repairs.

Manager Peter Troedsson asked council members to rank their individual choices to see which one the staff should work on to develop further. He said this week he didn’t yet have all the responses back.

Already rejected, as a result of previous discussions, are other revenue ideas including higher franchise fees, an Albany payroll tax, and an increase in the transient lodging tax.

Still in the running are three potential ways to save money: Close the Carnegie Library downtown, close or reduce operations at the city-operated pool near South Albany High School, and explore forming a separate taxing district to take the library system off the city’s hands.

For the next two years, Albany’s biennial city budget of $347 million ($87 million in the 2019-21 general fund alone) is balanced based on decisions already made. As for new revenue or cutting expenses after that, expect to hear more in the coming months. (hh)

28 responses to “A city ‘bed fee’ on assisted living?”

  1. Mike Martin says:

    I was told that the $100K that the City has been spending annually for years in support of a private school (this is apparently the last year) was “dust” when compared to the overall budget. And I agree, my beaf is with the principal of City funding a private school. So, if $100k is dust, $200k that this proposal for an assisted living tax is dust times two. There simply has to be a better way.

    • Rich Kellum says:

      where would that be Mike, I proposed a number of things to cut expenses, all but one was shot down….

      • hj.anony121 says:

        Drop the cut-list here Kellum? No public $$ should be spent on pvt. Right?!

      • Mike Martin says:

        Not sure Rich. That’s your job. I have always thought that Albany doesn’t need two Libraries for one suggestion. Sounds like that may now be in the table. Disappointed that the City caved to the school parents for another year. Dust but half of the $200k proposed tax. I know I need to forget about the school. I like the proposed soda tax and I think I like what Corvallis did to help with the CFD portion of their budget. Tough times and I respect Peter and the rest of you for the tough job before you.

  2. Richard Smith says:

    How about just operating more efficiently, with less spending on needless junk? I can already tell you that as a voter, I won’t support any of these ideas. Of course the city government could not care less about what the people paying the cost actually think or want! As a homeowner, I have to live within our means…I don’t get to just create more money because I want to! The city needs to learn this concept NOW!

  3. HowlingCicada says:

    “””… according to the Albany Fire Department, assisted-living facilities make up a disproportionate share of non-medical calls for service. The department often responds to assisted-living homes to help someone who has fallen and can’t get up.”””

    What? Aren’t things like that the responsibility of the facilities? Isn’t that what “assisted living” is all about? What am I missing here?

    • Heather says:

      Staff aren’t trained to make the medical decision that EMTs can make. If someone has fallen and hit their head, staff can not make the medical choice if that resident needs to be examined by a Dr. That is why we call the trained professionals to make that call. If a resident falls and complains of hip pain, staff moving them without someone who has proper medical training could be a horrible outcome. If a resident falls, and is an obese resident who bears no weight, and the facility doesn’t have a Dr’s order to use a lift on them, then EMTs are called to assist. To ensure the resident, and staff aren’t hurt while trying to lift. Staff are trained to help and assist in the residents daily living needs, toileting, grooming, bathing, feeding…. They are not certified medical professionals in any way…..that’s why we call EMTs.

      • Dick Olsen says:

        Thank you Heather, It’s gratifying to see some words of fact for a change.

      • Jim Engel says:

        My dear Heather, just why isn’t there a “trained EMT” at those assisted living facilities??!! Good gracious, those places charge enough!!

        • Steve Reynolds says:

          It’s one of the hardest events in the world families have to go through dealing with Memory Care, Assisted Living, End of Life Care. That’s why I was a bit upset when certain city officials seem to demonize those assisted living seniors that are using a few city services, it really made me pin my ears back, I had to refrain from writing a no hold back, scathing review of everything local government, but then you realize that you’re venting because of what you’re going through, so you calm down. The residents can’t defend themselves so they’re an easy target, families fight all the time with these facilities to increase the quality of food, better physical care, making sure medications are correct, getting meals out on time (not waiting an hour and half at dinner time for their food), making sure their rooms are clean, it’s exhausting. The issue is there’s far more need than there is supply of these facilities, they’re labor intensive and very difficult work for the staff, plus it’s difficult to fill positions. A bed tax on top of all this just seemed to be a flippant attitude of those that have never had to deal with this (or haven’t yet). We would love to have a 24 hour EMT, but that’s not a reasonable expense, you can see just from the taxes being taken out of these facilities how much it depletes their operating revenue, at some point they need to get a return of something they’re paying the city.

        • Ray Kopczynski says:

          Adding a fully-trained EMT to staff would seriously add to the cost/fee structure of any assisted living center…

          • M. Davenport says:

            I do not believe that a trained EMT would cost that much more. They could very easily pay some of the nurses/workers to get EMT certified. I’m pretty sure that some of the nurses working at these assisted living homes have very similar training if not more in some cases than an EMT. This is definitely a conversation that needs to be had with these facilities. I do not support taxing them more because of the outrageous prices they already pay to live there.

      • John says:

        Heather, please re-read the comment that you replied to, it says, “Non-Medical”. If someone is hurt or potentially hurt, 911 is appropriate. If it is a lift assist only; non-medical the facilities should not be deferring their potential for injuries onto the Fire/EMS and taxpayers. By Oregon law these facilities are required to have adequate staffing to move the patients and assist their needs.

  4. Barbara Casali-Mingus says:

    WHEN is enough, enough? Will it ever be enough? For those of us on are on a limited, fixed income, it’s a struggle to pay property taxes as it is. I have to save over $300 per month, just for the privilege of living in my own home that my husband and I worked all our lives to afford. It’s a challenge, but I know that many people are just plain struggling to maintain their homes.Instead of pondering about how they can continue to suck money out of us, maybe they could spend the time and energy trying to figure out how they can tighten their belts like the rest of us have to do. For example, last fall, when I was walking my dogs on a path, I saw THREE city workers putting one small wood stake with a red strip of vinyl tied to it, into the ground. Nothing else around. Perhaps my perception is wrong, but did it really take three of them?

  5. Bill says:

    Well it won’t affect me so I shouldn’t care. Actually I should be happy that they want to take money from somebody else. It seems the mentality is…
    !) We need more money.
    2) Who do we take it from and what do we say to justify this taking?
    Would be encouraging if the city would consider spending less and budgeting more!

  6. D says:

    Start cleaning up this city, city hall first, recall and remove all incumbants, they treated this down town revival spending like it was peanuts. Now they are nickel and diming every little thing

  7. Patrick John Quinn says:

    There it is again…..The veiled threat of reducing fire/ems, police, library, etc. Why is it never said that they will reduce city support staff, parks/rec staff, staff at the permits office etc.? really curious, I think fire/ems, police, library etc. is a little more important than the redundancy in the city government offices. just my opinion.

  8. S says:

    Where is all the money from Building permits and Systems development charges going? When will the City budget be public?

    • Hasso Hering says:

      Building permit fees go into the general fund, as far as I know, and support the building division. Systems charges go into the funds that accumulate money for expanding the systems for which they are collected (streets, parks, sewers) when an expansion to accommodate growth is necessary. The city budget as approved by the budget committee is available under the “data/transparency” heading at http://www.cityofalbany.net. It lacks the usual summaries of tax revenue and the general fund, though, which I’m told might not be ready till September.

      • Hasso Hering says:

        In case anyone catches up with these comments: Turns out I was wrong about the fund. Building fees go into the city’s building fund, not the general fund. Albany building and related fees last year totaled a budgeted $1.6 million. Together with a beginning balance of $1.8 million, that gave the building division a budget of $3.4 million. The budget called for $950,400 in personnel costs, for the full-time equivalent of 7.2 employees, and $2.4 million in expenses for “materials and services.”

  9. Calex Marston says:

    If you are being creative with revenue streams, how about increased enforcement of the existing ban on driving and using mobile devices in the city limits? Process the infractions through a city judiciary that does not share money with the state or county (think Coburg). Show no leniencies toward offenders. Stick it to them with a stiff $100 fine for the first infraction. Then triple it with each additional infraction.

    Only those drivers committing the unsafe act would produce the revenue stream. If you do not want to contribute, you have that choice…

  10. Fred says:

    CARA has got to be at least a million a year in diversion from the cities operating budget?? If true, it seems like they should be considering that revenue. People are already paying the tax, it just moves from beautification projects to needed services. Pretty simple stuff.

  11. Sarge says:

    Is it not already being charged by fire EMA department in patient bills from these facilities

  12. Tired Taxpayer says:

    How about if Albany residents are asked where they would like to see cuts? Let’s start with the things that cost us money for “out-of-towners” to enjoy, like the music in the park that attracts them. They don’t shop at local businesses, and they don’t donate even $1 per head toward the cost of the entertainment. Shut that nonsense down and have local entertainers play for the local folk and WE can contribute a buck a head for it and we will all be ahead. Our near gravel pothole ridden streets could use the break and look at the CARBON FOOTPRINT we could stop contributing to!

    Cut unnecessary spending like those hideous lights on 2nd and 3rd Avenue. I also want to know who put them on 3rd instead of 1st where all the businesses are that could use the light! (I would bet they were placed on 3rd in error!) In addition to the outlandish cost of them, the upcoming replacement bulbs will be costly – AND WE’RE BEING HORRIBLE ABOUT LIGHT POLLUTION!

    We are more than tired of being threatened with “we’ll cut fire/police/services”. Those are needs. Music and lights are wants. How much did the city light bill go up when those bad-boys were installed?

    I’m still irritated about the state of our streets and the fact that all the road money was hijacked. I mean seriously, you can’t tell me that road maintenance has not been part of the budget for the last 20 years.

    I’m beginning to think that we need salaried positions for the City Council and the mayor position – Then there would be competition and surely they wouldn’t spend money the way this current council does. They spend like someone else has earned it and they have the run of it… for the fun of it.

    There will come a time where the fiat dollar no longer works … what will they tax us with then?

  13. Jim Engel says:

    How about a “seat” tax for the Mayor’s & council members chairs they sit on during meetings. Say two-bits a minute. Might speed the hearing along. They wanna gouge us so lets turn about is fair play!

  14. Steve Reynolds says:

    Ok, let’s start with the low hanging fruit. We’re spending a lot of money to put on the Northwest Art and Air Festival, I believe just the main act is in the $100k to $150K range, yet there’s no admission charge. The argument is the sponsors want to “give” the event to the community, problem is now that certain main sponsors have pulled out the rest only cover a much smaller percentage of the expenses, the rest is covered by tax revenue. Another example… 14,000 just went to see the River Rhythms Sugar Ray concert for “free”, well it’s not free when you’re going after senior citizens for a bed tax. Going after seniors for a bed tax is equivalent to asking PERS recipients under the age of 62 to pay a surcharge for the benefits they’re receiving from the budget. Do you really want to go down the road of putting seniors into the category of a liability because they increase certain line items in the budget in the last years of their lives?

    • hj.anony1 says:

      Well the lowest of hanging fruit is the sugary and associated diet soda consumption fee.

      Easy Peasy, Lemon Squeeze. Period.

      Take it UP council.

  15. Stephanie says:

    Thank goodness Oregon has Measure 50 to limit a home’s assessed value. It ensures that during growth periods, when demand increases for services, cities are unable to collect the revenue to pay for it. This is why we’re playing another round of “your darlings are on the guillotine” – passing additional levies is the workaround. Between 2014-2017, Measure 50 compression amounted to nearly $5M in uncollected property tax. Can’t wait to see the numbers for the past couple of years, as property values have increased dramatically during that time.


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