MDA to take up Natchez Regional issue next week

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NATCHEZ, Miss. (AP) — The city of Natchez has joined with Adams County in asking the Mississippi Development Authority for the sale of Natchez Regional Medical Center to Community Health Systems to be considered a Regional Economic Development Act project.

The county hopes to convince MDA that the hospital's sale should be considered an economic development project because it would consolidate the local health care market and help bring in new doctors, including specialists the area currently doesn't have, and likely would result in the construction of a new hospital in the near future.

The move would allow CHS to prepay property taxes as part of the sales process. Those prepaid taxes would be part of an overall purchase price that would be sufficient to pay off the bankrupt hospital's debt.

The Natchez Democrat reports (http://bit.ly/1l9rlGT ) the county applied to the MDA last week and city board of aldermen endorsed the action Tuesday.

MDA spokesman Jeff Rent said the REDA designation allows multiple municipalities to apply jointly to issue revenue bonds based on the anticipated future tax revenues of an economic development project. The bond proceeds can be used to build or improve infrastructure needed for the project, and the taxes collected from the project are used to service the debt on the bonds.

Hospital attorney Walter Brown said Tuesday MDA officials told him the matter will be discussed June 17.

The hospital opened in 1960 as Jefferson Davis Memorial Hospital. Its $2.4 million construction was underwritten by an $800,000 local contribution and state and federal funds.

It has been financially independent since 1974 and does not receive tax support, but is backed by a 5-mill standby tax that the Mississippi Development Bank required the hospital to get in 2006 when it wanted to reissue its revenue bond.

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Information from: The Natchez Democrat, http://www.natchezdemocrat.com/

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