published Wednesday, June 26th, 2013

Catoosa, Walker OK $6 million line of credit for Hutcheson

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    Erlanger at Hutcheson

Erlanger at Hutcheson hospital got unanimous support this morning from Catoosa County commissioners for an additional $3.5 million line of credit for the Fort Oglethorpe hospital.

After meeting for half an hour behind closed doors, county commissioners quickly approved the credit line through Regions Bank.

Closed-door negotiations are underway involving Chattanooga-based Erlanger Health Systems and officials from Catoosa, Walker and Dade counties.

The counties, which own the hospital, are willing to issue long-term, low-interest bonds to cover Hutcheson’s roughly $60 million in debt — provided Erlanger guarantees to cover the annual bond payments no matter what happens to Hutcheson to minimize taxpayers’ obligation.

“That is moving forward,” Catoosa County Attorney C. Chad Young told commissioners. “It is moving forward in a very positive direction.”

Young told commissioners Aug. 9 is the deadline for a lease agreement to be reached.

“August 9 is a real deadline,” he said.

Catoosa and Walker counties previously agreed to a $2.5 million line of credit for Hutcheson through Regions Bank. Combined with the $3.5 million approved Wednesday, that brings the total to $6 million.

The hospital may not use all of that, county officials said.

The $6 million line of credit will be “rolled into” the bonds with other outstanding debts, so it would be paid as part of a lease agreement.

For complete details, see tomorrow’s Chattanooga Times Free Press.

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