MHP’s request for Urban Renewal once again will have a public hearing Monday March 7th

The surgical room at MHP with it's current technology, would be moved and upgraded to modern standards

The new year brought changes to the Mahaska County Supervisor Board, and Mahaska Health Partnership is once again bringing it’s desire to be designated for Urban Renewal. This designation would allow them them to have Mahaska County issue general obligation bonds on their behalf potentially saving them millions of dollars in interest.

The last time this was brought before the board on December 20, 2010, it was voted down with a vote of 2 to 1 by the then board of Rouw, VanWeelden, and Gordy. Rouw had not sought re-election and Ken Rozenboom has been elected to the board now, potentially changing the outcome of the vote by the new board in favor of MHP.

The public hearing for the previous vote on the designation was on December 6th, 2010. During that discussion, most comments from the public were in favor of the Hospital and it’s request for assistance in being able to issue bonds that would have a lower interest rate than if issued without the Counties backing.

In a recent letter to Mahaska County residents, Jay Christensen, CEO of Mahaska Health Partnership, outlined why the aid of Mahaska County would be helpful and beneficial to area residents. The following are reasons outlined by them:

  • By working through the county, it allows the hospital to get an interest rate about 2% lower than we otherwise could. While that may not seem like much, our investment firm tells us it will save about $15 million over the life of the bonds. That keeps the cost of health care down.
  • The lower interest rate of general obligation bonds allows them to be paid off more quickly. This is because the higher cost of the hospital-issued revenue bonds would require a higher monthly payment. In order to keep the payment at an affordable level, the period to repay would be extended. It’s similar to the reason many people need a 30 year mortgage, instead of a 15 year mortgage. County-sponsored general obligation bonds would have a lower monthly cost due to the lower interest rate, allowing us to pay them off in few payments.

    MHP's semi-private rooms would be upgraded to larger private rooms during the construction process

There were objections the last time this was brought forward. Concerns about using portions of the county bonding capability, and if portions of the update are truly necessary. Questions had been brought forward about the birthing center, and that many times it seems that it’s not in use with new births.

County Supervisor Greg Gordy has been a proponent of the public being allowed to vote on the issue, because of it’s costs and the responsibility that would land upon the taxpayers of Mahaska County if the hospital were to fail. Opponents have expressed concern at one of the more recent audits of the hospital that point to a $900,000 deficiency before tax dollars were added to the balance sheet as a concern over the ability for the bonds to be repaid without taxpayers having to take responsibility.

If your curious about learning more, or would like your opinion heard on the issue, there is a public hearing on the 3rd floor of the Courthouse Monday March 7th at 6:30 p.m.

Articles for reference on the previous urban renewal request listed from the most recent:

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