Some La Crosse County board members have reservations about spending millions of dollars to improve a long-time nursing home.
The county board, however, voted overwhelmingly on Thursday to approve the $20-million funding plan for modernizing the Hillview Health Care Center on La Crosse’s far south side.
Of that money, $12 million in federal ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) funds would go toward the project. The county would spend $8 million on bonds for the rest.
Wanda Plachecki, director of long-term care for the county, said the improvements would serve a large variety of people in the future.
“When we look at 24 beds, or 60 beds, or 200 beds, we’re talking about the number of people that we’re serving,” Plachecki told the board. “So today we might be serving 54 out of those 60 beds that are currently licensed in the nursing home, but I do not look at it any more in terms of what is licensed as what.”
Bridge housing for the homeless and assisted living quarters are two of the services the county plans to offer, after Hillview is renovated.
At a previous meeting this month, some supervisors balked at the idea of spending $3 million on a portion of the complex, where 10 people would be in bridge housing at any one time, saying that wasn’t enough.
County administrator Jane Klekamp noted that local officials have spent more than a decade debating what to do with the Hillview property.
“Some of the reason we’ve just never really been able to manage what was going to happen with it is funding,” she said. “And this opportunity, with ARPA, is one of the ways that we can bring Hillview into the 21st century.”
A day care facility is also included in the new plan, but Klekamp added that the county would not be running it.