Finance accepts recommendation for ARMC bonds

ALPENA – If the Alpena County Board of Commissioners accepts a recommendation by the county’s finance committee, the county will provide financial assurances for the Alpena Regional Medical Center to issue $13.5 million in bonds for a large project.

During Wednesday’s finance meeting Commissioners Lyle VanWormer, Bob Adrian and Jeff Kowalski voted to support a resolution to support the $3 million bond sale with money from the general fund. The money from the sale of the bonds will be used for renovations and improvements to the emergency room.

ARMC attorney John Axe said the county has provided support to the hospital for other bonding matters and by doing so it helps ensure a lower interest rate. He said currently the hospital has little debt obligations. He said there is about $3 million owned on bonds issued in 2000 and $6.3 million from re-funding bonds in 2012. Axe said all of the bonds, including the newest, will be paid in their entirety by 2019.

“The hospital is a free-standing facility, but it is connected to the county and the county has a role in anything the hospital does,” Axe said. “The county has always supported it with bond issues. The county has the power to approve the bond issue and to guarantee to the purchaser that it will be paid. They will be paid with revenues from the hospital, just like the others have always been.”

Axe said having the county and its AA credit rating on board with the bond issue, it allows the hospital to get a lower interest rate than what it would be able to get on its own.

The work to be done at ARMC will include a revamp of the emergency room, which currently has 14 rooms that are enclosed only by a wrap around curtain. ARMC Vice President of Finance and IT Services George Smart said the work will include adding an additional six, as well as other improvements.

“We need to do some infrastructure internally and one of the lead projects is a complete redesign of the emergency room,” Smart said. “It will require five different phases to get the job done and take two or two and a half years to complete. The original ER was built in 1984 and they are all open bays and in today’s environment or confidentiality and privacy, we simply don’t meet the standard and we need to address that.”

Even though the finance committee approved the plan, it still must be voted on and approved by the full board, which meets on Oct. 29 at 1 p.m. in the Howard Male Conference Room in the county’s annex building.

In other business:

* the committee approved recommending the county contribute $1,300 to the Alpena Convention and Visitors Bureau for marketing, advertising activities promoting Alpena.

* Equalization Director John Hippensteel gave his annual apportionment report to the committee. The report determines tax amounts for local millages.

* the committee approved purchasing 18 new computers from OM Office Supply for $13,777.

* the committee approved increasing the hours of Administrative Assistant Laura Ellery by two hours through the end of the year. The funds will be taken from the contingency fund and deposited into the overtime line.

Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews. Read his blog, Upon Further Review … at