The dire economy is affecting Dane County's plans for a new Badger Prairie nursing home in Verona. The county planned to pay about $18 million for a new, 120-bed facility, but the lowest bid came in $3 million over budget.
Lynn Green, head of Dane County's Human Services Department, blames rising fuel costs: "That's hit the construction industry pretty hard."
The county is exploring ways to cut costs. "The building currently has some brick on the outside," says Green. "We want to figure out what it would cost if we took the brick off." Also facing the ax are trellises for flowers, a sprinkler system for the lawn, and tile in the bathrooms.
Another option is to reduce the size of the facility. "We could take a whole wing off," says Green, who hopes this won't happen.
The current Badger Prairie has about 112 residents, and often a small waiting list. Demand will grow as baby boomers age. Badger Prairie also takes patients, many with dementia, who would otherwise go to Mendota Mental Health Institute.
"If we downsize beds, we have to look at the tradeoffs," says Green. A bed in Mendota costs nearly $800 a day, compared to just $325 at Badger Prairie. "There go your cost savings."