Thursday, April 16, 2009

Public talks at Med Mart meeting

Six people spoke during the public comment hearing at the county commission meeting, asking questions about the Med Mart deal. Two asked whether the deal's provision for hiring minorities and local residents is strong and detailed enough. Others said the public should have more time to study the project.

"How can the county sign an agreement committing $925 million [to the project], with no design, no plans, no final site, no budget, no cost protections, no cost limitations, and no guaranteed benefits for citizens?" asked Thomas Kelly, one guy who spoke. (There are actually cost limitations and protections from construction cost overruns in the deal. I think the payments will add up to more like $815 million.)

"Why are we paying [MMPI] $40 million a year, when we built this thing?" asked Joe Miller of Cleveland Heights.

Fred Nance, who negotiated the deal for the county, said the development agreement will be replaced by lease, design, and construction agreements in the next year. Waiting until everything was nailed down all at once would've taken another year and hurt the chances of getting a deal done, he said.

Nance also explained that MMPI has to turn over $36 million a year back to the county, out of the $45-$48 million a year, to pay off the bonds for the project. The county will own the building after the 20 year lease, Hagan just added.

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