Property tax levy would bring veterans home to Lebanon

Property tax levy would bring veterans home to Lebanon

 

LEBANON, Ore. -- Where most people see a grassy field, Linn County Board of Commissioners chair Roger Nyquist sees opportunity.

"I see the opportunity to provide a needed service for veterans in the area," he said.  "I also see opportunity for our young people."

The 10 acres will be the site of the state's second veterans home if voters approve a 10-year local option tax levy this November.

"Once built, these will be private sector jobs," said Nyquist. "The payroll of this facility will be between $6 and $10 million a year, just for the facility. Not counting all of the other jobs that will be created by servicing of the facility itself."

The proposed site is next to the Western University of Health Sciences facility currently under construction and across the street from Samaritan Lebanon Community Hospital.

Nyquist said he believes there is tremendous potential for economic growth in the area, in health care jobs and other jobs for businesses that would open in the area.

The Oregon Department of Veterans Affairs also saw the potential in the area, when they selected Lebanon for the project, from five applications.

The federal government will pay for 65 percent of the project.  Linn County must come up with the rest of the funding or the project will be cancelled.

The proposed local option levy rate is 19 cents per $1,000 assessed value.  If approved, the owner of a home worth $100,000 would pay $19 a year or $190 for the next 10 years.

The home would have up to 150 beds for veterans who need rehabilitative or long-term care and treatment for Alzheimer's disease.

The state's only veterans' home, a 150 bed facility, is in The Dalles.

A home in the Willamette Valley, where a majority of the state's veterans live, is high on the wish list for members of VFW Post 584 in Albany.

It would offer "peace of mind, you might say where families can come and visit," said Jim Jones, who served in the U.S. Navy.  "If you ever try to get to The Dalles in the winter time, it's hard."

"When you live in a veterans' home, as opposed to an assisted living home," said Robert Gore, who served in the U.S. Navy.  "It's your home, it belongs to you."

Nyquist estimated the facility could create up to 300 construction jobs, as well as up to 200 jobs at the facility itself.  

To be fair, we wanted to interview opponents of the plan.

There is no organized campaign against the measure.

Every Linn County resident KVAL News approached said they planned to vote in favor of the measure, if they had not already. 

If voters approve the measure, he said design would start in 2011, construction would start in 2012 and the veterans home would open in 2014.   

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