Troy set to close hospital purchase today

Published 9:48 pm Tuesday, December 22, 2009

City officials and Troy Regional Medical Center owners are expected to seal the deal today on the transaction that will give the city of Troy ownership of hospital property.

This comes after meeting the final OK at the Troy City Council table Tuesday, authorizing the city’s Health Care Authority to purchase the hospital real estate, assets and pay off previous loans, for an $11.5 million price.

Through this deal, the city will essentially be the landlords of the hospital, and current owners Troy Doctors Hospital, LLC. will make rent payments. Overtime, the doctors group plans to repay the city the full amount through payments.

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However, if owners default on rent, the hospital will rest in the taxpayers’ hands.

“The bottom line is, you’re authorizing the guarantee of the loan tonight,” said attorney John Ward Weiss.

The city of Troy has been backing the hospital’s owners for what has nearly been two years.

In that time, Troy Mayor Jimmy Lunsford said the city has incurred expenses, which he said will be paid back also through the payments.

While it has taken the 14 doctors and investor Gil McKenzie some time since the original purchase to turn the hospital around, McKenzie said he believes they are on the right path.

“The turn around is slower than expected because of money we had to spend our first year related to quality,” McKenzie said. “Our goal is to make it. With that said, you don’t know what could happen.”

McKenzie said while owners don’t anticipate falling short of making payments, he said it is only responsible to prepare for such an event.

“One of our options at that point would be to turn the keys over to the city. If it comes to that, we would give advance notice and support you 100 percent,” McKenzie told the council members.

But, knowing the city of Troy doesn’t desire to run the hospital, McKenzie said another option would be to find an acceptable hospital company to take over operations at the city’s approval.

McKenzie said he anticipates the hospital turn around to be complete within early to mid 2010.

Also in the meeting, the council took steps to finalize a quickly-moving sewer renovation project on South Brundidge Street.

The project, which will be funded with grant money, requires the city to have approval of 86 property owners to allow access to portions of properties to complete the work.

With the promise to put land back as it was, the city has obtained easements from 84 or 86 property owners.

Though Lunsford said he believes the other two property owners will be in agreement, the council still agreed to condemn the parcels to allow for project timelines to be met.

The council will award bids on the project Jan. 5 when it reconvenes its meeting at 5 p.m.

The city also awarded bids on a project to paint and replace the dome ladder and lights on a city water tank. The total project will cost $331,070, but $125,000 of that will be forgiven with stimulus money.

As has been budgeted earlier this year, the council approved bids for up to 10 new police cars, at $22,332 per vehicle.

Troy Police Chief Anthony Everage said these vehicles will be used to replace old ones.