Hospital could pay off big for taxpayers

Published 12:07am Sunday, January 13, 2013

Adams County’s taxpayers could be just a year away from one of their greatest success stories.

In 1960, the county’s residents put up $800,000 toward the construction of a new, public hospital. For 14 years, taxpayers funneled money into the hospital.

Those payments stopped, but in 2006, taxpayers got involved again, whether they understood it or not. The hospital, now called Natchez Regional Medical Center, needed to renew a bond with the Mississippi Development Bank, and the bank required collateral.

That collateral came in the form of a promise that if the hospital couldn’t pay its debt to the bank, the taxpayers would — through a 5-mill tax.

But after reaching the lowest of lows just a few years after 2006 and filing for bankruptcy, the hospital’s leadership says the finances are in good shape and the hospital is ready to stand on its own.

The NRMC board of trustees plans to approach the Mississippi Development Bank in the coming year and seek to free local taxpayers from their collateral obligation.

If the bank agrees, NRMC would stand alone at no cost or risk to the taxpayers.

It, perhaps, has been a very bumpy road, but if that goal is achieved, the county’s initial $800,000 investment has paid off.

The hospital has been a major employer, a community partner and a crucial piece of our health care pie for 52 years. Autonomy is a great next step.

  • Anonymous

    It’d be nice, but the bank would be foolish to release the taxpayers, as hospital is just recovering from BANKRUPTCY and a lawsuit.

  • Anonymous

    Autonomy apparently is the wrong word to use in this article. The hospital will remain owned by the county as stated in the article, the taxpayers will simply be taken off the bond guarantee. While the hospital operates in an independent fashion with the BOS only rubber stamping their budgets, the county still can sell the hospital without the trustees approval. Per my comment in the lead article, this is probably the best time to dispose of this asset with the rosy outlook and the recent cash influx of the lawsuit settlement which should shore up the balance sheet. The county apparently invested more than the original $800k, with 14 additional years of cash infusion. It is time to cash in and put the proceeds away in an untouchable fund other than getting the interest earned on the proceeds for ongoing operations of the county and no ability to borrow against or from that money. The taxpayers need some insurance against tax increases, this is the golden egg.

  • khakirat

    I have to agree with oldsouthgent but the taxpayers still need to know about the sum of the settlement for this is what hatched the egg for the taxpayers may be owed money back as well as selling the hospital if you get my drift??!!

  • Anonymous

    In a sell scenario, whatever that money is used for (except kickbacks as you allege elsewhere) will become an asset on the books of the hospital which should be recouped in sale revenues, thus the taxpayers get it back.

  • Anonymous

    My guess is that the settlement was a tidy sum which would, when exposed, put a different light on the overall financial condition currently. This is why I say sell while the opportunity to market a more attractive property is awaiting us. This could, of course, change if the trustees feel it necessary to spend that money buying the adjacent doctors pavilion from the doctor owners to placate them.