Heiskell Won't Go Along With Catoosa Bonds To Cover Hutcheson Hospital Debt
The Catoosa County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday morning voted to issue $35 million in bonds to cover the debt at Hutcheson Hospital in Fort Oglethorpe.
However, Walker County Sole Commissioner Bebe Heiskell said she will not go along with that approach. "I have been informed that the Catoosa County Commission voted this morning to immediately move forward with credit backing of $35 million dollars in Bond Anticipation Notes (BANs) for Hutcheson to consolidate its debts, conditioned upon either Dade County or Walker County joining them in the credit backing.
"Last Friday I announced that I was not willing to unnecessarily put the Walker County taxpayers at risk for these BANs, which BANs in effect obligate the taxpayers to the follow-up Consolidation Bond of $60 million dollars or more.
"I said then, and affirm now, that Walker County will immediately back an additional working capital Note of $3.4 million, to add to the $3.3 million still on hand from the previous working capital note. This $6.7 million line of credit for working capital will supply all critical needs of Hutcheson and its physicians for the next two months pending the receipt of proposals from potential lease partners via the Request for Proposal (RFP) process that is well underway, with proposals due back no later than October 25.
"That $3.4 million amount is based on the estimates from the Hospital’s own administration as to what cash is needed to meet hospital and physician needs pending the RFP decision, and will also give Hutcheson a half million dollar emergency cushion.
"In addition, I am informed that a BAN of $35 million dollars will not even consolidate the debts and give the needed working capital pending the Bond. I am informed that the number is at least $40 million dollars.
"My job is to protect the interests of all the citizens of Walker County, both private and corporate. No one has provided more support to Hutcheson than have I on behalf of Walker County. Over the past three years, Walker and Catoosa Counties have split responsibility for credit backing for approximately $30 million dollars in additional loans for Hutcheson. Dade County has backed zero.
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