NOREEN: Hospital cash won't be spent soon

BARRY NOREEN Updated: December 27, 2012 at 12:00 am • Published: December 27, 2012

Reader Don Heaberlin wrote, “I have not seen a report on what the city is spending on with the millions of dollars they received from the lease/sale of Memorial Hospital. The city administration should give the citizens and accounting of these funds since so many of us voted for the transfer of the hospital.”

The short answer, Don, is that money has been received but no money has been spent. The reason is that guidelines for spending the money have not been established and won’t be until a nine-member panel is appointed . That panel will spend all of 2013 developing policies for how to spend cash in community health-related ways.

Colorado Springs City Councilman Merv Bennett, who has helped spearhead the effort behind the creation of the advisory panel, said “In January we’ll be starting to seek applications for the board of trustees for the city-owned foundation.”

The city will be looking for people with experience in the non-profit sector, Bennett said.

As for cash received from the University of Colorado Health System, Bennett said more than $30 million is in a city-held escrow account. More money will be coming in, because the deal between the city and UCH called for $74 million to change hands.

There are a couple of good reasons why no money has been spent. One is that the city remains unsure how much money it may need to satisfy any liabilities that may be owed to the Public Employees Retirement Association, because Memorial workers no longer will be in the PERA pension plan.

The other is that before money can be spent on health-related needs in the community, the City Council will have to sign off on policies to be discussed by a panel that hasn’t even been appointed yet.

“There won’t be any dollars available for distribution for two or three years,”” Bennett said.

Memorial won’t have control over the direction of the foundation, and that’s all right with Memorial. Hospital spokesman Brian Newsome noted that “we counted 165 stories about Memorial this year and less than 10, maybe only six, were about patient care. The rest were all about politics, so we’re back to patient care, where we should be. That’s refreshing.”

Reader Laurie Arnold asked, “When are they going to extend Dublin to Marksheffel?”

The answer, from City Transportation Manager Kathleen Krager, is “The City has worked out an agreement between us, CSFD and Classic Homes to build a two-lane section of Dublin from Peterson to Markscheffel to be completed prior to the opening of the new Fire Station 21 in June of 2013...The PPRTA extension will fund the expansion of this road from two lanes to four lanes."

Hear Barry Noreen on 
KRDO NewsRadio 105.5 FM and 1240 AM at 6:35 a.m. Fridays. Contact him at 636-0363 or 
barry.noreen@gazette.com.

 

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