Manor residents approve new agreement with Pacific Retirement Services

Rogue Valley Manor residents have overwhelming approved a detailed agreement granting them more say in how Southern Oregon's best-known senior community is run.

The agreement hammered out between the Rogue Valley Manor Residents' Steering Committee and Pacific Retirement Services was presented Friday with voting conducted over the weekend. The agreement, ending the threat of a class-action suit, was endorsed 767 to 21.

"The big thing is that we've now got control in operations that were totally out of control," said Don White, acting chairman of the steering committee.

The settlement provides an independent Rogue Valley Manor Board, including two residents as voting members, limits PRS' ability to remove directors from the board, and caps PRS management fees for the next three years. Some $400,000 in monthly fees will be credited back to residents during 2013 and residents who contributed for legal representation will have up to 70 percent of their expenses reimbursed by PRS.

"PRS has agreed to a fundamental change in its relationship with RVM which will pay dividends for the current and future generations of RVM residents," said White, former present of Hughes Aircraft and a nine-year Manor resident.

The vote ends a struggle of wills in the community of more than 900 atop Barneburg Hill.

The dispute first arose over concerns by Manor residents that they were being charged excessive fees to cover expenses related to PRS properties beyond the Manor. Residents attempted to negotiate through a former board that was effectively dissolved last August when former Executive Director Kevin McLoughlin and seven board members were fired.

Subsequently, Manor residents raised hundreds of thousands of dollars in anticipation of legal fight late last summer and were set to file a class action suit just before Christmas.

"The focus was on the governance issues and creating a governance structure for now and the future so (Manor residents) will have a voice in the leadership of community," said Shannon Armstrong of Markowitz, Herbold, Glade & Mehlhaf, a Portland law firm.

The recently appointed Executive Director Sarah Smith now will report to both the Rogue Valley Manor Board and PRS, and board members are protected from removal when acting in the Manor's interest even if it may be counter to PRS's interest, she explained.

Capped management fees to PRS will result in projected savings to residents of between $1.3 million and $1.6 million. Future management fees for years after 2015 will be negotiated between PRS and the independent Manor board.

Manor residents Fred Willms and Jim Stocker have been appointed to the board. It is not clear when PRS will fill out the remainder of the reconstituted board.

Brian McLemore, PRS' chief executive, did not immediately respond to voice and email messages.

— Greg Stiles

Read more in the Mail Tribune on Tuesday.

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