Finance Committee hears nursing home contract negotiation displeasure

It was a packed house at the start of the Knox County Finance Committee meeting Wednesday night as employees of the county’s Nursing Home were in came out in numbers to voice their displeasure with conditions at the nursing home.

Randy Lynch, a representative with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees told the board that nursing home staff would continue to show up to county meetings in large numbers to voice their unhappiness with contract negotiations.

“The members out there are overworked. Mandation is at an all-time high. Five years ago we had mandation, people got mandated twice a year. Now their being once or twice every two weeks.” Lynch told the board, “Overtime is at an all-time high. They can’t hire and retain staff. The staffing level are only being maintained because of the overtime the people are working and the mandation the people are working.”

A common theme being voiced by several members of the staff were the displeasure with the rumors of benefits being on the chopping block.

Katie Schofield with the nursing home told the committee that with the holidays coming up, she was informed that staff would only get one vacation day to cover Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years.

Shelly Lasely, a 30-year staff member with the nursing home spoke to the committee, upset by the rumors that staff benefits were on the chopping block.

She told the board that because so many of the long-term staff members are leaving, it’s creating tension with the residents of the home – and the families that put their trust in her and her coworkers.

“When you tell a family member that you’ve been there that long, they feel safe to leave their resident there. Not all these new people that keep coming in and leaving. The residents get upset when you have new people coming in, but when you have somebody that’s been there a long time and they hear that they feel safe, ” she said to committee members.

Following the time of public comment, the committee approved several items – mostly dealing with the October financial report, and FY 17/18 budget changes and approval.

Knox County Treasurer Robin Davis told the committee that because the Equalized Assessment Value rate is going up, the county tax levy wasn’t being raised – but actually going down.

She said that what is really helping bring down the tax rate was the bond payment being made from the Public Safety fund, instead of levying to the tax payers.