By News-Register staff • 

Charter amendment passes in favor of care centers

UPDATE: A second release of results from the Yamhill County Clerk's office Tuesday night reported "Yes" votes ahead of "No" votes, 4,019 (or 57.64%) to 2,954 (or 42.36%), representing a 33.58% voter turnout.



McMinnville residents have sided with local care centers in passing a charter amendment that overturns a city ordinance and prohibits the city from singling out care centers with any fees, fines or regulations in the future.

In the first returns Tuesday night, the vote was 3,370 "Yes" (or 58.57%) in favor of the ballot measure and 2,384 "No" (or 41.43%) against the measure. Voter turnout was 27.7% in the initial count.

City councilors passed Ordinance 5059 Oct. 9 last year. It imposed $1,500 fines against care centers when staff members summon firefighters with unnecessary 911 calls. It also requires care center administrators to obtain specialty business licenses. Licenses cost $500 for an initial application fee. Renewing the license costs $200 annually for every bed in the care center.

But with the Tuesday special election, it seems all that will be erased, and then some. 

State health care officials successfully placed Measure 36-202 on the Nov. 5 ballot, which would overturn the ordinance, while also prohibiting the city from: "Enacting or enforcing any ordinance or regulation imposing a tax, fee, fine or similar assessment primarily or exclusively on Care Facilities"; and "Enacting or enforcing ordinances and regulations that impose standards of care on 'Care Facilities' already subject to federal or state requirements."

The initial city law passed after McMinnville Fire Chief Rich Leipfert reported that the city was spending at least $750,000 per year for firefighters and paramedics to perform tasks that care center staff members are required by state law to do themselves.

Leipfert said the specialty business licenses are necessary because care centers require more frequent health and safety inspections than they had previously been receiving.

The law immediately drew fire from the leaders of the Oregon Health Care Association, which spent approximately $160,000 ($125,000 cash and the rest in-kind) on billboards, mailers, lawn signs and television spots to push a charter amendment so care centers could never be singled out for fines and fees.

Defenders of the law, in comparison, spent hundreds of dollar for lawn signs and random speaking engagements. Leipfert and other city employees were forbidden by state statute to advocate for or against the charter amendment.

Mayor Scott Hill and Council President Kellie Menke led the defense of the law, speaking to groups and taking in small donations. Hill said most of the money came from their own pockets.

Local taxpayers will also spend money on the election. Yamhill County Clerk Brian Van Bergen estimated the vote will cost the city between $60,000 and $80,000.

Opponents of the law were represented by the Stop the Senior Tax Committee. The Oregon Secretary of State's website listed the address of the committee as 401 N.E. Evans St., the address of the headquarters of The Springs Senior Living -- a chain of 18 care centers owned by Fee Stubblefield.

Although none of Stubblefield's care centers are located locally, he maintains the company's headquarters in McMinnville and serves as president of the Oregon Health Care Association.



In other news, statistics show that voters respond to bright, slick political ads paid for with lots of money.

Bill B

I hope this is a lesson learned.

The V oice

Great. Now all local taxpayers get to subsidize the care centers, while perhaps being unable to get truly needed paramedic services services because the paramedics are helping someone get back in their chair at a care center.


The V oice.....I agree with you


So, back to the drawing board.

The special per-bed fee for care facilities part seemed like overreach anyways, even to some of us who opposed repeal.

So I want the city council to focus on the frivolous 911 calls. Rewrite an ordinance that is applicable to ALL businesses and does not single out care facilities, and develop standards to evaluate the emergency merits of 911 calls.

There will be some money for training and likely legal hassles involved; the corporations who bought this vote have deep pockets. But that‘s no excuse to give up.


I will let my family members know to never put me in any of these facilities that won't hire people to do the job they are paid to do.Each resident pays high fees to live there already, if they fall they have to wait for the fire department to lift them up? What if hospitals did this too? Ridiculous!


Maybe we need to revisit selling the ambulance service to a private vendor. This would stop the abuse. Since the 80's the city has had to write off several $1000's because of insurance,Medicare and care center abuse.

Bill B

@Rumpelstilzchen, I like your idea. Is that possible Ms.Menke?


Disinformation and disinterest triumph once again. Hope this isn't an indicator of Truth's chances in the next election.


Chief Leipfert said it clearly......The city was spending at least $750k / year for firefighters & paramedics to perform tasks that care center staff are required by law to do themselves....I guess the yes voters are on board with tax dollars subsidizing corporations and shareholders...

Mike D

developing standards to evaluate the merits of all 911 calls and validity of all the services requested is a great idea. Not easy to do.


Listen up city hall, the people have spoken! Isn't democracy awesome?
Now...any chance we could vote on repealing the plastic bag ban?


An abundance of care, caution and fear of liability probably leads to an overuse of our 911 system. Even my doctors office recommends calling 911 for any "emergency". As a society we don't have a robust system for handling medical emergencies except for the expensive 911 and ER systems.

I have a question for Chief Leipfert. Is the $750,000 number the cost of additional resources the city had to procure, or just his estimate of the amount "spent" on this issue out of the existing staff and equipment costs?

I tend to agree the care centers need to provide a higher level of services and not lean on the a third party, whether the city or the local ER.


It appears that “profit “ might also be a motivation for overuse of the 911 system....reduce staff and rely on the taxpayer subsidy....


You nailed it tagup!

Bill B

@tagup; that's (reduced costs) been behind the "Yes" effort all along

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