The Legislature's Joint Budget Committee this week authorized the state Department of Veterans Affairs to pay up to the maximum-authorized salary of $125,986 a year to fill the vacant administrator post at the Arkansas State Veterans Home in Fayetteville.
The administrator post has a salary range of $88,887 to $125,986 a year, said a spokesperson for the state Department of Transformation and Shared Services.
The state Department of Veterans Affairs requested authorization to negotiate a job offer up to the maximum salary of $125,986 a year for the vacant state veterans home administrator position, Department of Veterans Affairs Deputy Secretary Scott Stanger said in a letter dated March 9 to state personnel administrator Kay Barnhill.
The previous incumbent vacated the position in February with an exit salary of $100,949 a year, Barnhill said in a letter dated Wednesday to the Legislative Council's personnel subcommittee's leaders.
Stanger said Thursday that "we do not have a particular individual we plan to hire with the increase for the Fayetteville home administrator position.
"We are currently doing a search for a new administrator and based on the NWA market we needed a larger salary range for negotiations to make the best selection," he said in a written statement.
Stanger also said the Department of Veterans Affairs is not going to contract with a private company to run the Arkansas State Veterans Home in Fayetteville at this time.
Last year, Avalon Health Care Inc. and HMR Veterans Services submitted bids in response to the department's request for proposals for a private company to run the Arkansas State Veterans Home in Fayetteville.
The state issued the request for proposals for companies to run the veterans home June 23, and the deadline to submit proposals was July 27, according to state records.
The Arkansas State Veterans Home is a 90-bed skilled nursing facility and is located on the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences' Northwest Regional campus.
"We are working with the Federal VA for the grant to build a new state veterans home in Rogers, Arkansas," Stanger said Thursday.
"We currently have the land and the state match, and we are in the queue for the federal grant," he said. "We will know more about the timeline for the grant next month, however it's usually a 24-month timeline. Because of this we have decided not to contract for the operations of the Fayetteville home since it will be in transition to a new facility. Once construction has started, we will address all contracting options."
In November, Legislative Council approved the state Department of Veterans Affairs' request for $1.4 million in state-restricted reserve funds to help cover the cost of transitioning from state operation of the Fayetteville veterans home to a private contractor. Then-department Secretary Nate Tood said the $1.4 million would be used "to wind down the state operation" of the Fayetteville veterans home and "fund one-time outsource operation startup costs."
Asked if the department plans to return the $1.4 million in state-restricted reserve funds to the finance department or if the money has already been spent, Stanger said Friday that "ADVA still has the money, and we are currently working with DFA [the Department of Finance and Administration] on the future disposition of the money."