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County, hospital may work out financing plan for new facility

The Harrison County Board of Commissioners will ask the Harrison County Council to join forces along with Harrison County Hospital to work out a financial plan so construction of a new facility in west Corydon can move forward.
‘We’ve agreed to the idea of building a new hospital,’ said Commissioner James Goldman at last night’s meeting of the commissioners. ‘Now we’re trying to work out the financial logistics of it. We need to openly discuss that and come to a solution.
‘All of us, the commissioners, the council and the hospital need to resolve the issue.’
His motion to that effect, shortly before 11 p.m., was seconded by Commissioner Jim Heitkemper.
HCH executive director Steve Taylor had asked the commissioners to approve a county payment in riverboat revenue of $6 million a year for three years, bringing the county’s commitment to the project to $18 million.
‘That would allow the hospital to move on with our financing plan,’ Taylor said, which would be to finance the balance either through a bank loan or revenue bonds.
The hospital board is asking the county to finance the ‘front end’ of the project due to the uncertainty of riverboat revenue, from the county’s expected earnings of $23.4 million a year which is subject to change by the state legislature.
The estimated costs of the building, now in the planning more than three years, has been lowered from $36 million to $34 million, due to a revised plan that will cut the square footage of occupied space from 150,000 to 140,000, Taylor said. The reworked design was approved by the hospital board on Feb. 14.
‘We think the $34 million is a pretty good number,’ Taylor said, adding that a consulting company is expected to complete a definitive cost estimate next week. He stressed the $34 million does not include financing or all equipment costs.
The location of the new facility, which will replace the 54-year-old, landlocked hospital on Atwood Street, will be located northwest of Corydon, between Corydon-Ramsey Road and S.R. 337, near I-64.
Commissioner J.R. Eckart suggested that the hospital board attend the next meeting of the county council, on Monday night, Feb. 28, at 7.
Financing for the hospital wasn’t the only hot funding topic the commissioners were dealt last night, which included requests for more than $300,000 for two new firefighting vehicles and a commitment to fund about $600,000 of a $1.1 million sewage treatment system for New Middletown.
That commitment is needed so the town can apply for a $430,000 federal grant, which won’t be available after the April deadline to apply due to future cuts in federal spending, said Cyndi Mattingly, New Middletown’s clerk-treasurer.
Following a lengthy debate, the commissioners decided to continue last night’s meeting until Saturday at 9 a.m. to try to resolve the issue.