Bay Medical Board of Trustee's Chairman Denies Hospital Is Considering Privatization

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Andy Stein says there are no plans to privatize the county's not-for-profit hospital. Newschannel 7 obtained copy of a memo last week from the hospital's attorney to the board of trustees. The memo proposed some legislative changes that might allow the trustees to possibly privatize the county hospital.

The memo also explored the possibility of eliminating term limits for the hospital trustees.

"No where in here does it mention privatization," says Stein. "We have no intention, at least I as a trustee, of seeking to privatize the hospital."

Stein also denies Newschannel 7 reports the hospital board may seek the authority to impose taxes.

"As for taxation power, a public referendum would be needed for that, so the hospital would not be able to have direct taxing authority."

Bay Medical Center's Trustee Chairman also told county commissioners he was mystified as to how a confidential internal memo made its way to a television newsroom.

In other commission action, the county will continue to search for suitable property to build a new county office complex and new library.

Commissioner's rejected an offer to buy 11.2 acres of land from the Panama City Downtown Improvement Board. The proposed property is adjacent to the old train depot on beach drive.

The D.I.B. wanted $1-million for the depot site.

"I think it was on the market for several years for $800,000," pointed out Commission Chairman George Gainer. "Why would we want to pay a million? I just don't think that's the best place for Bay County's government complex and we just need to keep on looking."

Panama City Beach residents also want the commission to keep a proposed condominium project from getting off the ground.

A mid-rise condo is in the works to go up on Front Beach Road and Twin Lakes facing the Gulf of Mexico. The existing business will eventually be torn down and replaced with a 15-unit condo and pool.

The Bay County Planning Commission has approved the project, but residents want the county commission to deny it.

"They're coming after us," warned Brenda Harrison of Panama City Beach. "Neighborhoods, street by street, we got three more condo's. Looks like we're going to end up in court all over the place."

Beach businessman Philip Griffitts, Jr., who owns land across from the proposed condo site, supports the project.

"Using Commissioner Newberry's words 'this is a juke-joint' that this guy is trying to turn into something a little more compatible. It is a good project and I urge you to deny the appeal."

Harrison had her own urging for the commission.

"It is your job to protect us."

The county commission voted in favor to hear an appeal which would deny the condo project if the appeal is approved.