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County officials work to iron out differences with Erlanger

Representatives from Erlanger Health System address the Monday evening working session of the Sequatchie County Commission. Photo by Andrew Johnson.

Sept. 18, 2018 – In a working session Monday evening, Sept. 17, the Sequatchie County Commission talked with representatives from Erlanger Health System regarding the proposed regional hospital to be built in Dunlap.

In the working session, which preceded the scheduled meeting of the County Commission, four representatives from Erlanger and Beth Jones, executive director of the Southeast Tennessee Development District (SETD), addressed the questions and concerns of several of the commissioners.

The proposed hospital has been in the planning and negotiation stages for over a year, but recently has hit some obstacles.

Several commissioners at the meeting questioned how much financial burden the hospital will put on Sequatchie County taxpayers. Commissioner Jeff Mackey pointed out that at $32 million this project is worth more than the entire county budget.

Erlanger has agreed to provide the county with a written proposal (best offer) within the next 30 days to be discussed and possibly voted on at the October commission meeting.

The proposed agreement provides that the county would retain ownership of the property and building.  The county would be responsible for securing the money through loans or bonds to construct the hospital, with the agreement that Erlanger would repay those funds to the county over a 15-year lease with a 10-year extension.

Some commissioners were concerned that by applying for such a large loan to fund this project, it will be very difficult to acquire any other large loans for other capital projects or emergencies until this loan is paid off.

Many commissioners made very clear their desire to see the hospital be built.

No official action was taken during the working session.

COUNTY COMMISSION MEETING

A special called meeting of the Sequatchie County Commission was held Monday night, after the working session and a Budget Committee meeting.

Commissioners approved two recommendations made by the Budget Committee: A budget schedule for 2018-19 for county officials, and the sale of some surplus equipment, including a one-year-old wood chipper with a starting price of $40,000. Road Supervisor Eric Higgins had asserted in the Budget Committee meeting that it is more efficient to haul brush to the county dump site, rather than processing it through a chipper to be hauled to a storage site.

In other business, the County Commission:

All votes were unanimous.

The next regular meeting of the Sequatchie County Commission is scheduled for Oct. 15 at 7 p. m. CDT at the Sequatchie County Courthouse.