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      Nursing home owes county nearly half a million dollars

      The Maples, a county owned non-profit skilled nursing facility faced Benzie County Commissioners Thursday morning with proposals on how they plan to pay tax payer money back to the county.

      A packed house listened as commissioners, community members, and Maples representatives talked about how the county medical care facility will pay back nearly half a million dollars.

      "We have 62 residents there and another 100 some jobs that we have to be cognizant of and the board as a whole is very cognizant of that all the time, said First District Benzie County Commissioner, Vance Bates. "But we also have 17-thousand other residents in the county that pay taxes that we have to keep their best interest at heart also."

      Maples representatives presented the board with their plan, asking to have until March of 2014 to pay back the $484-thousand they owe the county. They also requested to cap the total amount of money they can borrow at $650-thousand, in case they need the extra funding.

      "I would be more inclined to capping you at $500-thousand which would be another $14-thousand," said Bates. "And if you want to go above the $500-thousand or if you anticipate you're going to have a problem, in August you come back to the board."

      Also a part of all this, are the plans to build a new facility. A project that extra funding could be used for.

      "I think there's a big advantage you know, they share with the new building the increase in revenue," said The Maples Administrator, Judy Martin."

      "They're going on a theory that if they build it, they'll come," said Bates. "In other words they want to increase their bed capacity from 62 to 80, they want to put in a dementia wing. They're theory is that if they build a new building that they'll be able to fill that building."

      Community members at the meeting had mixed opinions about the controversial issue.

      "It's a fabulous place," said Pim Dodge. "The last time I was there was 10 weeks and even the maintenance people were wonderful."

      "The Maple's wants us to bail them out when our public safety here and the sheriff's department are running around in cars that should have been replaced two or three years ago," said Rev. Steven Thompson.

      Bates tells 7&4 News that they plan to further discuss this at their board meeting on Tuesday but do not expect a decision will be made then. Bates says that the goal is to make a decision on whether or not to help fund The Maples by their June 4th meeting.