The city will make a counter-proposal for funds for the Colorado Street project

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As decision time approaches for the execution of the expanded Colorado Street project, the Washington County Board of Supervisors weighed heavily on the extent of its financial support for the effort at Monday’s regular meeting.

BOS unanimously agreed, 4-0, to make a counter proposal that involves the City of Greenville and Washington County each contributing $2 million to match the state’s $2.5 million designated for the project.

Mayor Errick Simmons presented the original proposal which called for the City of Greenville, Washington County and Delta Health System to provide $1.4 million respectively, in addition to the state’s $2.5 million for the $7 million infrastructure project.

Now, the BOS counter-proposal, which essentially frees DHS from any financial obligation to the expanded Colorado Street project, is expected to be considered by the full city council before the offer expires on May 20. .

Hemphill Construction won the bid, which originally expired on May 1.

Christina Berry, a consultant for NEOO Partners – a firm that focuses on property development and urban planning – presented BOS with an economic growth analysis report on the project.

At the request of BOS members, Berry highlighted some of the main points raised in the report.

Washington County Economic Alliance Executive Director Will Coppage prefaced Berry’s highlights by recalling a conversation he had with BOS Chairman Carl McGee when he first took on the role of executive director almost three years ago.

Coppage said McGee asked him what could be done to develop “a large property” south of Greenville.

He was approached by Delta Health System CEO Scott Christensen about the possibility of development for DHS and they decided to commission a study to determine if the land was viable.

“What we understood was that a hospital expansion plan was surprisingly accurate for greater development in the county,” Coppage said. “What we learned from this report in a quantifiable way is that Washington County is the primary driver of economic development in the Delta. If Washington County fails, the Delta will fail. We are in the heart of the delta and most spending takes place here.

Coppage also said he thought the report was an indicator of DHS’s potential for growth and mentioned the hospital was the largest employer in the community.

“I think this report shows the growth potential of the hospital, not only for the hospital, but for the non-hospital services, which would also help me in recruiting and capturing,” he added.

Berry said the NEOO team looked at three different scenarios regarding the economic analysis.

“Currently, there are 767 jobs planned within the Delta Health System in Greenville that support the jobs of an additional 448 people in Washington County through a combination of jobs supported by supply chain companies and jobs supported by employee spending habits,” she explained. “This resulted in a total of 1,215 jobs in Washington County based on those supported by Delta Health System operations, so this is the impact the hospital is currently making in your county.” -Hospital Services, which seeks to contribute and support more than $145 million in economic activity in Washington County.

Considering the operations of non-hospital sectors within DHS facilities, the report projects that such a model would result in an economic impact of more than $105 million in 2022.

“In addition, there is a projected total of 928 jobs supporting Washington County through the operation of non-hospital services. Finally, the development of non-hospital sectors, including fixed and soft costs, is expected to support $9.5 billion. dollars – it basically means that once the buildings are built, that’s how much money should be infused into the economy here.

According to the report, DHS operations in Greenville are expected to support $450,000 in county tax revenue, $2.7 million in state tax revenue, as well as more than $11.5 million in federal tax revenue.

“That’s over $15 million in taxes from impacting activities in Washington County if this project goes ahead. Additionally, an additional $440,000 in taxes will go to special districts such as schools,” she added.

Berry also explained how the report was generated, which, in summary, takes into account the revenue currently generated by DHS facilities and uses “the multiplier” to find economic activity, as well as when the money is paid. in the system and how employees use that money, whether it’s for office supplies or other expenses.

District 4 Supervisor Mala Brooks had not been informed of the deadline when she asked Christensen what the deadline was for making a decision.

“From our perspective, the development of a south campus of the hospital is something we have been talking about for some time. It originally started with a new hospital and obviously it has changed to become more outpatient, but we really can’t move forward until the right kind of infrastructure exists there,” he said. declared. “So as soon as that happens, we’ll be able to move forward…we’re kind of at a stopping point until we get some of these things in place.”

Simmons told BOS: “With this particular project, we can build something for everyone. It’s a health care center, it’s an economic development project, but it’s also a public safety project because we’ll make sure the road gets built.

His concern was that if the funds were held for too long, which he attributed to “historic investments” made by the Biden-Harris administration, the benefit of discretionary and other planned funding would gradually be eclipsed.

“So we’re asking the county to support this project with the city, the hospital, and everyone working together,” Simmons said, “a $7 million infrastructure project that’s going to be the catalyst for everything Ms. Berry has spoken.”

McGee was of the view that “the hospital should stay in the health care business, not the infrastructure business.”

“And I wouldn’t support and put money in when we have major issues like we do with health care,” he said. “As it’s at the last minute, we don’t know if we can do anything or not.”

With that, he offered a counter-proposal that involved the city and county contributing $2 million respectively to the project.

Simmons said he would submit it to the council for review, but reiterated that there is a current order for the city, county and hospital to each contribute $1.4 million to the Colorado St. Extended project.

“50/50 is the deal if we can find the money,” McGee posed.

Brooks made a motion to move forward with the county contributing $1.4 million to match the city and the hospital, but the motion died for lack of a second.

“I don’t have a problem with the motion, I just want us to have time to talk about it so that we first see where this money is coming from before forcing it so that we don’t do anything detrimental “, Supervisor of District 2 says Tommy Benson. “$1.4 million is a lot of money.”

Brooks asked McGee why he would suggest the county donate $2 million instead of $1.4 million when the city and county agreed to match the funds.

McGee recalled a discussion that took place at a previous regular BOS meeting when Brooks asked why the hospital wasn’t doing more to improve nurses’ salaries and suggested focusing on that and any equipment needed.

Brooks’ question was the reason for McGee’s counter-proposal.

However, Brooks was supportive of the hospital wanting to help with county infrastructure, contrary to McGee’s position.

She then made a motion for the county to find the $2 million for the project which passed unanimously.

Simmons agreed to take the proposal to the full board for consideration.

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