Questions remain over Dorchester problems

2013-05-24T14:36:00Z 2013-05-24T23:37:39Z Questions remain over Dorchester problemsGregory Tejeda Times Correspondent nwitimes.com
May 24, 2013 2:36 pm  • 

DOLTON | Village officials held a special meeting Friday to confront the management of the Dorchester Senior Center about several issues they say are problems for the 60 residents of the assisted living facility owned by village government.

But that 1½-hour session devolved into attorneys for the village and for the senior center accusing each other of distorting facts to make the other side look bad.

Did the Dorchester Senior Center, 1515 E. 154th St., really finish the 2012 fiscal year more than $500,000 in debt? Or are village officials trying to exaggerate the facility’s problems by refusing to take into account money owed to the facility by state government?

Did Dorchester officials really know of a problem with the “lift” at the senior center for two years, yet do nothing about it? Or was this a case of the Village Board refusing to award a contract to do the repairs?

Mark Daniel, an attorney for the LL Care and Fitness firm that has operated the Dorchester for the village since March 2011, said he believes village officials purposely called for a hearing on Friday without giving facility officials any chance to prepare for serious questions.

In some cases, Daniels prevented LL Care officials from answering questions, particularly concerning the hiring of nurses and other medical personnel, contending the answers would put the Dorchester in violation of federal laws on personnel and privacy.

But Village President Riley Rogers, who acknowledged he wants to break the contract with LL Care because of what he says is mismanagement, presented several questions to LL Care officials in an aggressive manner.

Such as, the matter involving the debt for the village’s 2012 fiscal year.

Rogers cited figures from his village treasurer that, he said, showed $1.27 million in revenue for the Dorchester, compared with $1.85 million in expenses, which he calculates to be a $572,860 loss for the fiscal year.

But Tom Lekavich, a manager of the Dorchester, said there were more than $400,000 in state government reimbursements owed to the facility that did not come in until as long as six months after the fiscal year ended.

As far as the fiscal year that ended April 30, Lekavich said, “We’re waiting on a number of things right now. We’re still finishing up the (old fiscal) year.”

The situation involving a lift at the Dorchester also drew attention. “You knew for two years there were problems?” Rogers asked Lekavich.

Lekavich described the situation as one in which he sought bids and submitted them for Village Board approval, which, he said, never came.

Rogers tried to turn that response on Lekavich by asking him, “Don’t you have some responsibility to management of the facility to try to go further?"

Lekavich responded, “No,” adding he does not have the authority to approve large repairs without the village’s consent.

Lekavich and Angelique Lewis are the heads of LL Care. Lewis is the daughter of former Village President Ronnie Lewis, who got the Village Board to approve awarding the Dorchester management contract to the firm she and Lekavich created in 2010 when it became apparent the old management firm was not capable of handling the facility.

Lewis says she has been certified by the state for the past five years to operate a senior facility and that Lekavich has worked at the Dorchester in one form or another for the past 24 years.

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