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KCC approves KH, Capella deal extension

Posted: May 28, 2015 5:25 p.m.
Updated: May 29, 2015 1:00 a.m.

Progress on the deal that will create a strategic partnership between KershawHealth and a Tennessee healthcare company reportedly continues forward, but the parties involved, including Kershaw County, have agreed to extend the negotiations an additional 30 days while the final details are sorted out.

Kershaw County Council voted unanimously Tuesday to extend a “letter of intent” (LOI) from Capella, a Franklin, Tenn., company which, along with the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, is seeking to lease/purchase KershawHealth. The extension projects the closing date for the sale to be on or before June 30.

The KershawHealth Board of Trustees also voted unanimously Tuesday night to extend the deal (see “KH, Capella/MUSC letter of intent extended for another month.”)

Part of the agreement is Kershaw County will take ownership and operation of Emergency Medical Services (EMS) on July 1. For years, KershawHealth has operated EMS. The county will receive $2.6 million in the exchange, money needed to operate EMS until taxes or fees become available in 2017. In turn, the county will “quit claim” ownership of the hospital property.

County Attorney Ken DuBose explained Tuesday the extension will expire June 30 and, even if the deal is not closed, the county will still receive the $2.6 million and all EMS assets, including ambulances. But, if an agreement has not been reached on the tax value of the hospital property, the county will keep ownership of the land until a suitable agreement is in place.

Council Chairman Julian Burns said he is confident an agreement will be reached, but more time is needed.

“We are fully committed, as we were from the very beginning, in continuing EMS service and at this time moving forward as a county,” Burns said. “In fact, the budget itself has a very substantial line in it about EMS moving forward.”

Kershaw County Council held a special called meeting this morning with only one agenda item: the KershawHealth/Capella/MUSC letter of intent. The C-I will have a report on the meeting in Monday’s edition.

Discussions and amendments to the proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year which starts July 1 dominated the rest of Tuesday’s meeting. Council passed second reading of the budget after approving some changes.

Councilman Tom Gardner proposed a 2-percent pay raise for county employees, the hiring of three additional sheriff’s deputies and more funding for the solicitor’s office.

“The 2-percent raise, I think our employees need it. They deserve it. They make us what we are in this county. They’re our most valuable asset,” Gardner said. “The three sheriff’s deputies -- the sheriff has been asking us for that for a long time. That’s a moderate increase for him.”

Gardner said funding his proposals would require a 3-mil tax rate increase, but the role of government is to provide needed services to the residents.

“We owe an obligation to the people. If crime is up and we don’t increase the sheriff’s department, we’re not doing our duty to the citizens. When crime is up the solicitor has a heavier case load. That’s just two examples,” Gardner said.

Gardner’s amendments passed 4-3, with Gardner, Burns and councilmen Dennis Arledge and Sammie Tucker Jr. approving and councilmen Willie Mickle, C.R. Miles Jr. and Jimmy Jones voting against.

Jones then proposed an amendment to provide three new sheriff’s office vehicles to correspond with the hiring of the new deputies, to be paid from the county’s reserve funds.

“This is no additional expense out of the taxpayer’s pocket and the sheriff certainly needs them,” Jones said.

Jones motion passed 6-1, with Tucker voting against. Arledge asked for, and was granted, up to $30,000 from the capital fund for a new vehicle for the county coroner’s office, which would replace the department’s oldest vehicle, a 2007 Ford Crown Victoria with 173,000 miles. The motion passed 5-2 with Burns and Jones voting no.

The budget must pass third reading before going into effect July 1.

In other business, council passed third readings on six ordinances related to planning and zoning matters. The ordinances lessen the restrictions on signs at the county’s industrial parks, amend the spacing requirements for fire hydrants, allow auctions in rural zoned areas, defer property value assessments for one year, allow a manufactured home to be erected near Lugoff-Elgin High School and will change the way planning and zoning commissioners are appointed by council.

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