Bay County Commissioners Are Asking for Your Help

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Panama City - Bay County Commissioners want your help in deciding whether to lease Bay Medical Center to Sacred Heart and LHP. That's why Tuesday they set dates to ask for the publics help.

Bay County Commissioners scheduled the public hearings for next Wednesday and Thursday, the 15th and 16th, starting at 6:00 in the county chambers. Some commissioners say they still have concerns about the lease. There is a finish line in sight now for Bay Medical Center officials. Tuesday morning Bay County Commissioners announced the next step before voting on the 40 year lease.

"I would hope after the 16th we could get this on the county commission agenda and the next meeting is the 21st so that to me would make a whole lot of sense," said Don Conner, Bay Medical Center Board of Trustees Chairman.

Commissioners agreed hearing from the public would help them decide.

"This hospital belongs to all of the people of Bay County and they need to make the decision either through this commission or through a series of public hearings where everybody can be comfortable with this decision or at least the majority," said George Gainer, Bay County Commissioner.

"Our role in this is to vote up or down in a contract made by somebody else. It's not a very good role to have, but we're going to take input on it," said Mike Thomas, Bay County Commissioner.

If commissioners vote no on the issue Bay Medical Center will be forced to come up with another option to elevate their $155 million debt.

"I personally don't believe that the taxes would have to be raised I think these revenue bonds could be restructured and I think this hospital could continue, but certainty not with the present administration," said Gainer.

Commissioners hope by the 16th they will be able to decide if the lease will go on the their February 21st agenda.

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