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County, HCH plan joint meeting

The Harrison County Council agreed Tuesday evening, May 29, to have a joint meeting with the Harrison County Hospital Board of Trustees to discuss the hospital’s financial status.
When the council voted in 2011 to provide $8 million to HCH to help reduce its debt, one of the requirements of the council was for HCH officials or board members to report to the council on a quarterly basis the financial standing of the hospital.
But, HCH representatives have yet to do so in fear of revealing information to competitors in a public meeting, according to Council Chair Gary Davis.
‘The hospital has been reluctant to make those reports in a public meeting,’ Davis said. ‘They don’t want to disclose competitive information.’
Davis said the HCH board proposed sending three council members to the hospital’s regular monthly board, which is also public, to hear the financial report.
The council could not send more than three members without it being considered a meeting of the council, and, therefore, it would have to be advertised as such.
But, the council voted to have a joint meeting with the board instead after a motion to again ask them to come to a council meeting failed.
‘They came to request the money,’ Councilman Chris Timberlake said. ‘I don’t see why they can’t report to us.’
Councilmen Richard Gerdon and Phil Smith said they thought the same way as Timberlake.
Two motions died for lack of a second, one from Councilman Jim Heitkemper to accept the hospital board’s request and attend its monthly meeting and one from Smith to request the hospital board come to the council’s meeting and report its financial status, as originally agreed upon.
A third motion, made by Smith to ask the HCH board to report to the council semi-annually, was seconded by Timberlake but failed 2-5.
Yet another motion was made, this time by Councilman Ralph Sherman, to send two councilmembers to an HCH meeting. It failed 3-4 with Heitkemper, Davis, Smith and Timberlake against.
Finally, Heitkemper made a motion that the council and HCH will have a joint meeting under the grounds that the HCH board will report back to the council on a quarterly basis. It passed 5-2 with Timberlake and Smith against.
A date for the meeting has yet to be determined.
‘I don’t know whether they’ll like it or not,’ Davis said of the HCH board.