County commissioners have decided that about $690,000 in monies the county lent Weems Memorial Hospital in the past will not have to be paid back.
The move to forgive these loan monies was led by Chairman Noah Lockley, who argued that since the advances were taken out of the health care trust fund, they should not be viewed as separate and apart from hospital needs.
“Every penny of that is hospital money,” he said. “You used it in the hospital; it ain’t like you went to ad valorem taxes.
“We need to straighten that out. We need to clear that up so it can come off the books,” Lockley said.
Clerk of Courts Marcia Johnson noted that “the county at the time did call it a loan. It’s still running it on the books. The auditor said we can change what our books say. You have the right to change whatever you want to change.”
At the Sept. 3 meeting, the board approved the change.
Erin Griffith, the county’s assistant finance director, said in fiscal year 2015-16, commissioners approved a maximum emergency advancement from the capital portion of the discretionary sales surtax proceeds of $920,000 to be used for hospital operations. At the time, it was stipulated that Health Care Trust Fund would be paid back once the hospital received some slow moving reimbursements.
At the end of the 2015-16 fiscal year, $890,000 was due back to the health care trust fund. The hospital repaid $200,000 to the fund in 2017 and as of this month, $690,000 was in the books as being due back to the health care trust fund.
“As the commission wished to remove this amount due back to the health care trust fund, a motion was made to effectively remove the $690,000 amount due to and from as noted in the general ledger in both sets of financials,” she said. “The adjustment could not be made retroactive, but was effective the date the motion passed.”
The commissioners have voted to replace Hank Kozlowsky on the hospital board, due to his frequent absences from meetings. By unanimous vote, they renewed the terms of Doug Creamer and Duffie Harrison on the Weems board, and appointed Myrtis Wynn as the representative from District 3, and Donnie Gay from District 1.