Supes asked for foundation funds
by Courtney Stevens
Aug 11, 2013 | 2174 views | 0 0 comments | 38 38 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Mark Hargett with the Bolivar Medical Foundation recently asked the Bolivar County Board of Supervisors to return about $7 million to the foundation.

"This foundation was set up for the purpose of assisting Bolivar County with healthcare," said Hargett.

"I'm wondering if we as a county are really doing that."

"More than a decade ago, the board of supervisors leased what was the Bolivar County Hospital to a company called PHC-Cleveland," explained Jamie Jacks, the Foundation's legal consultant.

"The monies realized from the lease were substantial but the problem for the county was that, by law, the county was, and is still, limited in the types of investments it can make.

"The county then asked the legislature to pass House Bill 1741 which gave it the authority to allow the Bolivar Medical Center Foundation to invest these funds for it.

"The legislature passed the bill and the funds were transferred to the foundation.

"During this process, several million dollars in cash, which was being held by the hospital, was put in limbo," Jacks continued to explain.

"These funds had been set aside by the hospital, while it was still owned by the county, to add to hospital employees’ retirement accounts. As the lease was being finalized, it was unclear whether the hospital had the authority to do this.

"Years later, the IRS determined that the hospital did not have the authority to set aside these funds and the funds being held were given back to the county."

Hargett explained to the supervisors that while the county possesses this money, which is around $7 million, it is only gaining at a most a half a percent, which is around $35,000.

This year the foundation had a return of at least 10 percent, which would allow the interest on the money to be $700,000 had it been in possession of the foundation.

"You do the math. That's $700,000 that could have been earned by this foundation, versus $35,000 that was earned," said Hargett.

There is a written agreement that was created between the foundation, the hospital, and the county saying that any money that comes to the hospital through Bolivar County should go to the foundation.

"This is something to be considered," said Supervisor Andrew Williams.

Hargett stressed that any funding involving healthcare issues should be given to the foundation, especially this particular amount that was designated for the hospital.

"We need to take these opinions under consideration. We can set up a work session with members of the board and foundation where we can go into detail and discuss," said Supervisor James McBride.

"I appreciate the hard work the foundation does and I think we need to make good on the fact that the foundation is Bolivar County's, as is the money and the money that could be rotated over to the foundation," said Supervisor Donny Whitten.

“I think it is incumbent upon the board to manage county revenues to the fullest, and we have failed to do that with that money.

“I welcome a meeting between the board and the foundation to resolve the issue because we are definitely not getting the return on the money that we should," said Whitten.

The supervisors decided to make plans to meet with the foundation and discuss this money at a later date.

"There is an opportunity here for Bolivar County," said Hargett. "We're on the same team. I want us to help Bolivar County and make sure we are doing this to the fullest."