Loans and Notes Discussed

By Will Johnson
Messenger Reporter

HOUSTON COUNTY – A special meeting of the Houston County Hospital District (HCHD) Board of Directors was held on Tuesday, Oct. 30 in order to address several financial matters with Prosperity Bank, East Texas Medical Center (ETMC) and Crockett Medical Center (CMC).

The HCHD changed its agenda format in this meeting where public comments were allowed before actionable agenda items as opposed to previous meetings when the public forum was held after executive session.

The only person to speak during the forum was Houston County resident Michael Brown who urged the HCHD to attempt to recoup some of the ambulance cost from the Grapeland Hospital District.

Once Brown concluded, HCHD Board President Dr. Bob Grier announced he had invited Prosperity Bank Regional President Brandon Bridges to speak to the board about several financial matters.

“Brandon and his bank were generous to us in a positive way by extending us a line of credit to help maintain the functioning of the hospital at that time. But now, we owe the bank some money,” Grier said.

“I’m happy to make a few comments or answer any questions you may have. So far, I feel like everything has been in good faith and I haven’t been given any indication, otherwise,” the bank president said.

As he continued, Bridges said the HCHD bank note with Prosperity Bank was up for renewal in November.

“Tonight,” Bridges added, “I’ve asked for that to be on the agenda to consider renewing that note for another year, under the same terms we have had in the past.”

A question about if the interest rate was asked and Bridges said it would be higher. The rate for the coming year would be 5.25 percent and would be fixed for the year.

The next question concerned a $300,000 principal payment. Bridges said that would still be required from the HCHD.

“These terms have already been approved by the bank so it’s not something I have to go get additional approval on after this meeting. I already got it approved before I came over here so I could answer with facts and not speculation,” Bridges said.

Bridges distributed a resolution to each of the HCHD board members who took time to read the communique, but no action was taken at that time.

Before Bridges concluded, Grier asked him about the possibility of issuing revenue bonds related to an ETMC note.

The bank president explained the HCHD could secure the bonds based on the rental income they received from CMC, but could not use tax revenue to do so.

Once the bank president finished, the next item addressed by the HCHD board pertained to a wire transfer agreement with Prosperity Bank. This item had been discussed at a previous HCHD meeting but was tabled for future consideration.

At issue was a $20 wire transfer fee. Grier reported he had met with the finance committee and CMC representatives which resulted in CMC agreeing to pay the $20 fee. Grier indicated if the HCHD were to write a check to CMC, an overnight delivery fee would be $25. A motion was made and approved to accept the $20 fee.

As the board attempted to adjourn into executive session, a question about addressing a Texas Higher Education Grant behind closed doors was posed to Grier.

A brief discussion was held and as the members retreated to executive session, Rhonda Brown and Dina Pipes protested any talk of the grant during once the board was behind closed doors and requested their protests to be noted in the minutes.

When the board reconvened in open session approximately two hours later, Grier said he would like to make a comment on the Texas Higher Education Grant.

“Our finance committee is going to be taking on that issue going forward. In conjunction with our attorney, that grant was given to the district at a past time and there is a need to rectify what is going on with that,” he said.

No other business was conducted and the meeting was adjourned.

 

Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at wjohnson@messenger-news.com.