Heated comments fly at Dubuque Co. supervisors meeting - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Heated comments fly at Dubuque Co. supervisors meeting

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DUBUQUE (KWWL) -

Tense and emotional comments followed a decision from Dubuque County supervisors at the board's Monday evening meeting.

Supervisors voted unanimously to contract Minneapolis-based Health Dimensions Group to help county-owned Sunnycrest Manor care facility with its finances and operations.

Sunnycrest currently operates at a cost to taxpayers of some $3 million per year.

Following the supervisors' decision to move forward with the consultant, Sunnycrest workers and supporters expressed their concerns about the facility's future.

AFSCME Iowa Council 61 is the union that represents Sunnycrest's workers. Its president Danny Homan drove to Dubuque from Urbandale to attend the meeting. He expressed outrage that supervisors didn't take public comments at the meeting prior to approving the decision to move forward.

"I think the way you've handled (the approval) is deplorable," Homan told the three supervisors during the public comment section at the end of the meeting.

Dubuque County supervisors did not put the consulting project out for a bid. They said doing so would further delay finding a solution to the problem of Sunnycrest's budget shortfall, which costs Dubuque County taxpayers an average of more than $8,000 per day.

Homan argued that since Health Dimensions Group is a private consulting company, it has profit in mind and will likely recommend to supervisors that it take over Sunnycrest's operations.

"We're concerned that they're going to take a facility here in Dubuque County that provides excellent care to residents and folks that live out there and turn it over to a group that will not provide that same level of care," Homan said.

Dubuque County board of supervisors chair Wayne Demmer said all options are on the table right now and nothing has been decided.

"We've never even discussed an option of us ever eliminating county control over this," Demmer said.

His and the other supervisors' primary goal, Demmer said, is to find a viable way to reduce Sunnycrest's budget.

"We are out here, trying to be stewards of the money," Demmer said. "Maybe somebody's going to question we didn't have the right input, but we will have input once we get this consulting company's numbers back so we can look at them."

Supervisors' next step is to formalize a contract with HDG. They hope to have consulting work begin by early February. HDG's proposed timeline includes a final report by late March and six months of on-site work at Sunnycrest, spanning through mid-summer.

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