$2.5 million in debt approved to begin hospital construction

Published 12:07 am Tuesday, June 13, 2017


VIDALIA — The Concordia Parish Hospital Service District No. 1 received approval Monday to borrow up to $2.5 million as an advance to begin the construction process for a new hospital.

Hospital district attorney Alan Offner said the certificates of indebtedness would work like a line of credit in that the Riverland Medical Center hospital board would only have to take on as much debt as needed. The certificates would cover any expenses over the next six to eight months, he said.

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Offner said once the United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development Hospital Revenue Bonds are received, some of the funding would be used to pay off the debt. The hospital board is seeking an amount not to exceed $36 million from the USDA.Approximately $550,000 of the $2.5 million certificates would be used to purchase the land on which the hospital would be built, which is owned by Dan Renfro. The land is located at 6569 U.S. 84. Offner said the hospital board would likely purchase the land in five to six months.

Monday’s vote at the regularly scheduled Concordia Parish Police Jury meeting passed 6-3, with Joe Parker, Willie Dunbar and Carey Cook voting no. Before voting no, Parker asked if part of the $2.5 million would be used to purchase the land between Ridgecrest and Ferriday.

Parker has been critical of the hospital board’s decision to purchase land when the parish owns land behind the current Riverland Medical Center location on E.E. Wallace Boulevard in Ferriday.

Hospital board chair Jim Graves has said independent studies place the hospital’s best chance of success at attracting more patients and doctors at the new location. Graves has said going against the study could make it difficult to receive the USDA bonds.

Before voting yes, Jury President Whest Shirley asked if the taxpayers would be liable.

In a related question, Cook was also concerned about what would happen with the up to $2.5 million in debt if the hospital board did not receive the USDA bonds.

Offner said the money would be paid for with the bonds, which would not cost local taxpayers a dime.

Offner said in preliminary talks with the rural development office, the hospital board is expecting to receive the USDA bonds. However, should the funding fall through, Offner said the hospital district would pay off whatever amount was borrowed over a 10-year period. No funds of the parish would be used.

The maximum interest on the certificates is not to exceed 3.35 percent per year.