by By Kyle Lovern
It’s so refreshing to see two sides working together for the betterment of our community.
Unlike the recent revelations that many elected officials were working together but for their own benefit, the scene at this week’s city council meeting was heartwarming. In a playoff game atmosphere with ‘standing room only’ conditions, staff at Williamson Memorial Hospital, city residents and city officials vowed to work together to block the sale of WMH to Appalachian Regional Healthcare system.
When the pending sale was announced earlier this week, it came as no surprise. For months the word was already out. The same is true for what plans ARH has for the facility. Although they’ve been mum on their plans.
We’re understanding that they want to turn it into A) A drug rehabilitation facility or B) A psychiatric hospital. Both A and B are needed in our community.There’s no denying that.
Unfortunately it doesn’t equal what our city needs most in this troubling economy: C) A reliable source of income.
WMH is a for-profit facility while ARH operates a non-profit system. That could lead to some serious problems for the city coffers down the road.
If the hospital is indeed purchased by ARH, there will be a substantial decrease of Business and Occupational (B&O) taxes because a non-profit is not subject to the same taxes a for-profit business is. The city budget would be compromised to the tune of at least 25%.
That will mean a loss of jobs for some of our residents and worse, a loss of services provided by our city to its residents.
Regardless of ARH’s intention with the facility, we urge them, if the sale goes through, to find a way to infuse the lost revenue back into our city. We don’t just encourage this for our own selfish means. We encourage this because it makes sense. If the revenue stream that WMH brought to the city ceases to exist then there will be an exodus of residents.
An exodus of residents means fewer potential patients to take advantage of the services ARH provides. You get the point.
ARH needs to step to the table now. They need to be candid of their intentions. But not only that. They need to assure our city leaders that their purchase of the WMH will not spell economic doom for the city.
If that doesn’t happen, then ARH officials have already begun to witness the fight they’re going to be in for. A battle which has been fought before and one that our community won’t back down from.
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