After months of back and forth between the Baldwin County Revenue, Finance and Budgets Committee and Oconee Regional Medical Center (ORMC) representation, the Baldwin County Commissioners passed a resolution backing the hospital to begin the refinance effort concerning 1998 bond debt of $24.7 million.
ORMC gets the go-ahead to start shopping with investment banks, but this resolution is non-binding, according to County Attorney David McRee.
“This resolution does not bind the county to go along with whatever the hospital does. It states that the county is in agreement with the hospital going out and seeking a refinance effort,” McRee said. “It does not commit the county at this point in time to whatever they bring back. We will have the opportunity to review what they bring back and have the final say so whether we participate.”
Sammy Hall, District 3, said other details would be worked out in an intergovernmental agreement.
Refinancing the bonds at a lower interest rate could save ORMC $500,000 per year. The net proceeds would be used to call and redeem the bonds, pay off a $1.2 million BB&T note and fund the acquisition of $3.3 million in hardware and software upgrades required by the Affordable Care Act.
In congruence with the Hospital Authorities law, the hospital is asking for a county ad valorem tax pledge not to exceed 3 mills.
The resolution includes protections preventing the county from ever leveraging the millage. Unrestricted cash and investment levels must be maintained throughout the agreement.
“If we see that it's not going to work out, that would give us another opportunity to look for other measures to negotiate something else for the hospital,” Hall said.
Discussion on the Local Option Sales Tax (LOST) was added to the agenda Tuesday.
The LOST is a 1 percent sales tax imposed on the purchase, sale, rental, storage, use or consumption of tangible personal property and related services. The special district tax boundaries are the same as Georgia's 159 county lines.