Fee Stubblefield: Repeal measure is about our community’s values

For the News-Register

McMinnville voters are being asked to vote on Measure 36-202, which would prohibit the city from targeting senior care facilities with the taxes, fees and fines. In the process, it would repeal the fees and fines imposed through Ordinance 5059, passed last October.

I would like to share my perspective on why you should vote yes.

Ordinance 5059 needs repealing. It is simply bad policy. It scares caregivers and puts the safety of seniors at risk.Imagine if you or a loved one were fined $1,500 if you called 911 and the city determined, after the fact, that it was an unnecessary call — without any criteria whatsoever. Would you hesitate to call, maybe even when you should?

That’s what’s happening in care facilities in McMinnville today. Caregivers are scared to call 911, even when directed to do so by a physician.

That’s why consumer advocates for seniors are endorsing a yes vote, including the Alzheimer’s Association, the Campaign for Seniors & People with Disabilities, United Seniors of Oregon, the Oregon Consumer League and the Oregon State Council of Retired Citizens. The Oregon State Fire Fighter’s Council, representing our first responders, also support a yes vote.

The $200 per bed tax takes resources away from patient care. Local care providers already pay over $1 million a year in property taxes to support local government services.

No other city in the country is charging a bed tax on senior care communities. This bed tax costs local senior care providers $10,000 to $20,000 a year. The city is even taxing empty beds.

Advocates for seniors, consumers and local care providers were not engaged by the city prior to the passage of this ordinance. Because of that, the ordinance is bad policy.

Even the city has conceded that Ordinance 5059 is flawed. After Ordinance 5059 was adopted, local care providers, senior and consumer advocates asked the city to amend the measure. City officials refused to collaborate on policy alternatives, even knowing a ballot measure would be put to voters.

McMinnville is an outlier. In communities like Albany, Portland, Lake Oswego and Clackamas, local officials have worked corroboratively to develop solutions around appropriate EMS utilization.

Finally, citizen’s voices need to be heard. Taking issues to the ballot is a constitutionally protected right for Oregon citizens, particularly when our voices are being ignored.

A yes vote tells city hall it has to listen to its constituents, particularly those feeling the impact of their decisions.

No one involved in the yes campaign, myself included, wanted an election. We wanted to sit down with the city and other stakeholders to find a solution that would work for everyone. 

I’m proud to support a yes vote and stand up for seniors and their caregivers. I encourage all McMinnville voters to read the voters’ pamphlet statements from both sides and make an informed decision about what kind of values we want our community to represent.

Fee Stubblefield is the founder and CEO of Springs Living, which operates 17 senior care centers in Oregon and Montana. Though none are local, he makes his home here. He is also immediate past chair of the Oregon Health Care Association, which represents the industry.


Web Design and Web Development by Buildable