December 17, 2013

Waterville Council OKs $6 million hospital bond issue

Final vote on bonding recent Inland Hospital renovations and improvements scheduled for Jan. 7.

By Amy Calder acalder@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

WATERVILLE — City councilors voted unanimously Tuesday to give preliminary authorization to revenue bonds for up to $6 million for recent Inland Hospital renovations and improvements.

The 7–0 vote followed a brief discussion between Councilor Fred Stubbert, D-Ward 1, and Inland’s president and chief executive officer, John Dalton about the hospital project.

The council’s vote was the first of three needed to finalize the bonding issue. Councilors are expected to take final votes at their next meeting, scheduled for Jan. 7. A public hearing on the bond will be held just before that meeting.

The Inland project included the renovation and expansion of three areas in the hospital. The medical-surgical and ICU units were consolidated into a new acute care unit. New private rooms were created and the unit layout was improved to provide for more efficient care. That project was complete in October this year.

Two other improvement projects were completed more than two years ago and involved expanding the day surgery unit and adding two more labor-delivery-recovery-post postpartum rooms to the birthing center.

Stubbert asked Dalton if the Inland plans to add more beds; Dalton said he did not think so.

“We have the capacity to add, Fred, but I’m not sure I see the need in the future.”

Stubbert asked if Inland has seen an increase in demand for beds since the MaineGeneral’s Alfond Center for Health opened last month in Augusta.

“Yes,” Dalton replied.

City Manager Michael Roy explained earlier this week that cities and towns may authorize a certain amount of federally tax-exempt bonds every year, and the city’s annual limit is $10 million.

Certain nonprofit institutions, including hospitals, are allowed by law to borrow under a municipality’s umbrella, Roy said. Waterville would not be obligated or liable as a result of allowing the hospital to borrow under the city’s authority, he said.

The city does not plan to borrow in 2014, so the city does not need its $10 million allotment, according to Roy.

In other matters Tuesday, councilors voted unanimously to reappoint Mark and Robin Sellinger as civil constables. The Sellingers serve legal documents for area attorneys, businesses and landlords and serve divorce summonses, complaints and subpoenas, among other documents, in Somerset and Kennebec counties. They have been doing the work 14 years.

“It’s a good husband-and-wife team for the area – incredibly well respected,” Councilor Rosemary Winslow, D-Ward 3, said of the Sellingers.

Councilors also appointed councilors and others to several boards and committees. Paul Lussier was appointed to the Planning Board to replace Dana Bushee Hernandez, who recently was appointed a councilor representing Ward 6. Lussier is a former code enforcement officer for Waterville , as well as Oakland.

Councilors thanked Zachary Bickford, who temporarily filled the Ward 2 council seat, which was vacated in the fall by Michael Owens, who moved out of the ward. Edward Lachowicz was elected to the seat in November and will begin serving in January.

Amy Calder — 861-9247 acalder@centralmaine.com Twitter: @AmyCalder17

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