Chesterton Tribune

 

 

Citizens question Addison Pointe turnover and wages at tax abatement meeting

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By KEVIN NEVERS

The Chesterton Tax Abatement Advisory Committee is apparently not the forum in which to lodge staffing and patient-care complaints against the Addison Pointe Health and Rehabilitation Center at 780 Dickinson Road.

The committee met on Monday afternoon to determine whether Addison Pointe--the nursing home facility opened in 2012 by Long Term Care Investments II (LTCI) LLC--is fulfilling its hiring and salary commitments made as a condition of its 10-year tax abatement.

The committee heard from an LTCI attorney, judged that Addison Pointe is in compliance with its “statement of benefits,” but then listened to two members of the public who suggested that the attorney’s official numbers are concealing a high turnover rate--caused by poor wages--which is negatively impacting patient services.

The committee, however, made it clear to the two citizens that its purview is confined to Addison Pointe’s tax abatement and that they must take their complaints to the proper regulatory agencies.

Begin with the numbers submitted by LTCI attorney Nicholas Derda. When the LTCI applied for the tax abatement in 2010, it committed to this statement of benefits, he said: Addison Pointe would employ a total of 120 people with a combined salary of $4,071,600; and it would employ, whenever possible, qualified Town of Chesterton residents.

Currently, Derda stated, Addison Pointe employs 137 employees, 17 or 14 percent more than the number to which LTCI committed. The total payroll, on the other hand, is right now $3,838,795, or 5.1 percent less than that pledged in the statement of benefits.

Or as Derda told the committee, “We’re right on track as far as the number of employees and salaries.”

Meanwhile, Derda said, there was a total of 148 hires in 2013, following 11 separate advertisements in four different sources, including the Chesterton Tribune and the Town of Chesterton’s municipal website. Those 148 were hired out of 305 total applications and of the 305 applicants, 67 were Town of Chesterton residents, about 22 percent. Still, Derda said, 52 percent of the Town of Chesterton residents who applied got jobs.

The committee duly voted 4-0 to recommend to the Town Council renewing Addison Point’s tax abatement for another year.

Complaints

The fact that Addison Pointe is employing 14 percent more staff, but paying all staff 5 percent less, than it committed to, goes to the “incredible” turnover rate at the facility, Tammy Remkus said.

Remkus told the committee that she “pulled” her mother out of Addison Pointe after various problems with services, including the time when her mother fell and was left alone for 25 minutes.

Another person--who declined to be identified because she said that a relative of hers currently resides at Addison Pointe--blamed the wages paid by Addison Pointe for the turnover. “Those are barely minimum wages,” she said. “It’s very hard they’re paid so little. They could make as much money working at McDonald’s. But they’re not flipping burgers. They’re taking care of our parents.”

Derda thanked the two for bringing these issues to his attention but noted that the only subject before the commission was the renewal of Addison Pointe’s tax abatement. He did say that he would be happy to discuss the matter with them after the meeting.

Committee President Rick Hokanson agreed. “I don’t think it’s the committee’s position to be involved in this,” he said.

Town Attorney Chuck Lukmann, for his part, first noted that the Town of Chesterton has no regulatory authority over the nursing home but expressed his gratitude to the two for bringing these issues to the committee’s attention and urged them to contact the proper regulators.

Town Council Renews Abatement

Four hours later on Monday, at its meeting, the Town Council voted 5-0 without comment to renew Addison Pointe’s tax abatement.

 

 

 

 

Posted 6/24/2014