By Chad Koenen


With all of the uncertainties due to COVID-19 and nine open rooms, Willow Creek is on track to have one of its better financial years since at least 2007. That was the message received by the Willow Creek Commission on Tuesday night. 

According to figures presented by the Willow Creek Commission, the facility has lost about $6,000 year to date in 2020. Those losses do not include bond payments on the facility, which is approximately $90,000 per year, but does include depreciation of about $60,000 per year. According to the year to date revenue guides the commission received, Willow Creek received $632,915 in revenue year to date and has spent $638,909. 

The biggest revenue source came from rent collection, which was $413,645 year to date. Another big revenue source in 2020 has been elderly waiver, which generated just over $139,000. That amount was over $79,000 more than budget. 

City Clerk/Treasurer Kim Schroeder said some of the elderly waiver revenue Willow Creek received in 2020 was money that was likely money that was not properly billed in 2019, but was collected in 2020. She said the city is now billing the proper amount for elderly waiver but wasn’t sure at the time of the meeting how much of the nearly $140,000 in revenue the facility received in 2020 was from 2019. 

Heading into 2021, Schroeder said Augustus has put together a good budget that will help guide Willow Creek for the next year. 

With the additional revenue from elderly waiver from years past and a decrease in expenses, 2020 is on track to be one of the better financial years for the facility since 2007. While the financial outlook improved this past year, the commission spent quite a bit of time last week discussing ways to get more residents in the facility.

Currently there are nine open rooms at the facility, which was up slightly from 2019 when there were seven open rooms. According to figures presented to the commission, Willow Creek has lost over $1.5 million since 2007 and has yet to finish the year

in the black. Even in years when the facility had just one or two open rooms it consistently lost close to $100,000 a year. 

“What that tells me is they had all almost independent people in there,” said Executive Director Lisa Augustus. “When we look at having to fill the building I think you could make a good statement to say you can stay profitable if you manage your expenses and keep the rooms you have, as long as you keep them in line side by side.”

Commission member and city councilman Jim Haberer said it comes down to having “the proper clientele of the building,” by having a mixture of people who need additional services like bathing and medications, as well as independent apartments. 

Commission member and Henning Mayor Darren Wiese said the goal should be to fill the rooms right now in order to get as much revenue as possible, given the nine open rooms. Any revenue the facility can get now would go a long ways to making it more profitable in the future. If the rooms fill up the city can then become more selective like it had in the past about who to admit and what services to provide.

“There really is no reason for us to be selective right now,” he said. “When we are to the point where we are full then we certainly can be selective.”

In addition to the services provided, Schroeder said the city has refinanced the bond twice in recent years as it spent $236,000 alone in interest in 2013. Wages and salaries were also quite high that year as there was just one open room in the building. 

The commission said it will continue to monitor the expenses and revenue heading into 2021 and thanked Augustus for putting together a complete budget for the upcoming year.  

In other news

• Heard that two residents have recently tested positive for COVID-19. They have remained in their room since testing positive and Augustus said no other staff members or residents have tested positive for COVID-19. 

• Heard that Otter Tail Public Health, who will be distributing the COVID-19 vaccine for assisted living staff members, have not received their allotment of shots yet. Augustus thought they would be receiving their shots soon and at that time will begin vaccinating employees at long-term and assisted living facilities.