The Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisors Monday passed a resolution to issue the remaining $6.5 million in bonds needed to complete the OCH Regional Medical Center renovation project.
The county already has issued $21 million in bonds for the expansive renovation and construction project, but under state statute only was allowed to issue bonds worth up to 15 percent of the county”s total assessed value. With $21 million already issued, plus other smaller bond issues in recent years, the county already had met nearly all of its bonding capacity, County Administrator Don Posey said.
The Board of Supervisors petitioned the Legislature earlier this year to increase the county”s bonding capacity to 20 percent so it could issue more bonds for the hospital and other projects if necessary, and recently was informed the Legislature approved the request, Posey said. The Legislature”s approval cleared the county to issue the remaining $6.5 million.
“We had to get special permission from the state Legislature before we could go ahead and issue more bonds,” Posey said. “That”s what we were waiting on (before issuing the remaining $6.5 million).”
In November 2008, 61 percent of voters in Oktibbeha County approved a measure for the county to issue up to $27.5 million in bonds to pay for renovation and expansion of OCH.
District 2 Supervisor Orlando Trainer repeatedly has spoken out against the bond issue, saying he thinks the county should sell the hospital so it can operate on its own. Trainer spoke out against the bond issue again Monday, but acknowledged the county needs to issue the bonds for the project to be completed.
“Although I hate to do it, the hospital needs this money to complete that project,” Trainer said.
Board President Marvell Howard, of District 3, agreed with Trainer.
“The bottom line on this issue is it was placed on the ballot and it passed, so now we have to fulfill our obligations,” Howard said.
When the project is complete, which hospital CEO Arthur “Sonny” Kelly estimated will be by February 2012, OCH Regional Medical Center will feature a new intensive care/cardiac care unit; a new women”s center, which will accommodate the obstetrical care unit, including new labor, delivery and recovery suites, patient triage and observation rooms, C-section rooms and recovery areas, and a newborn nursery and viewing area. The women”s center also will feature an enlarged nurses station and new waiting areas for families and their guests.
Among other improvements, the hospital will feature enlarged and refurbished patient rooms and a new tower, which will contain more patient rooms, nurses stations, waiting areas, elevators and restrooms. It also will feature a new covered drop-off/pick-up area. A new multi-tiered parking deck, featuring an additional 235 spaces, also is planned.
In other business Monday, the Board of Supervisors agreed to discuss the possibility of issuing additional bonds for road and bridge improvements throughout the county. Trainer believes the county can issue more bonds without increasing the millage rate in the county.
Supervisors agreed to hold a work session, though they didn”t set a date, to look closer at Trainer”s idea to issue more bonds.
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