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Saline County delays acting on HMC bond request

Posted on 2/8/2017, 9:07 AM

HARRISBURG – The Saline County Board declined to move forward with a bond request from Harrisburg Medical Center Thursday, after State's Attorney Mike Henshaw recommended acquiring more information.

HMC had approached the county about serving as an issuing authority for a bond request to help fund HMC's ongoing expansion project, Henshaw said. That expansion project includes a new operating room, a reorganized emergency room and changes to the hospitals services area.

Henshaw said becoming involved in a bond issue is not something into which the county should rush.

"When you get into bond law, it is very sophisticated and very specialized," Henshaw said.

Henshaw said in his opinion, the county did not have answers to some questions regarding potential changes in the hospital's status.

"What we've talked about is a not-for-profit hospital. What if it went private? What if there was a default? What kind of input would we have on it?" Henshaw asked.

Henshaw introduced Harrisburg City Finance Commissioner Richard Harper, who said HMC also had approached the city regarding a bond issue. Harper said city council also was pursuing answers to questions like Henshaw presented.

"Michael Stewart with Raymond James has been asked to take this question to their lawyers," Harper told the board. "We don't have enough information."

Stephen Karns said he was concerned that the county being an issuing authority for such a project could put the county in a bind.

"If we needed to make a major capital improvement, we might not be able to issue other bonds," Karns said.

Henshaw advised the board to work in tandem with his office toward any potential bond issues.

"I recommend we proceed slowly and go through my office," Henshaw said.

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