By Rhonda Petersen
A nonprofit corporation is seeking the city of Havre's assistance in securing $2.5 million in tax-exempt financing from a local bank.
Northern Montana Hospital is asking the city to issue bonds for $2.5 million to purchase new CT and MRI scanners. Under Montana law, a nonprofit corporation can secure financing through the issuance of bonds with tax-exempt interest by a municipality. The city would obtain the financing from Wells Fargo Bank and in turn loan the money to the hospital. Northern Montana Hospital would assume all responsibility for repayment of the debt.
On Monday night the Havre City Council heard from Alan Pearson, president of the Havre branch of Wells Fargo, and David Henry, president and CEO of Northern Montana Hospital. Pearson said the city's involvement would allow the hospital to save money because of the bonds' tax-exempt status. He added that the city incurs no obligation or responsibility for repayment of the debt.
Henry said the cost of medical technology has increased dramatically in recent years. He told the council that the hospital purchased its last MRI machine seven years ago for $1 million. The hospital recently sold the machine for $15,000 and was lucky to get that much for it, he added.
The City Council set a public hearing about the proposed financing for Dec. 2 at 8 p.m. Anyone interested in commenting can attend the public hearing or file written comment with the city clerk prior to the hearing. Citizens interested in more information about the project can contact City Attorney James Kaze at 265-6706.
In other business, the council approved the confirmation of probationary police officer Jared Kuka. Kuka completed his one- year probationary period on Nov. 1.
The council also finalized a new labor contract with the city's police officers.
Mayor Bob Rice announced plans for a new city newsletter to be sent quarterly with residents' water bills. Rice said the newsletter will include sections about city employees and information about city government issues. Private businesses will pick up all the costs for the production and mailing of the newsletter, he added.
Rice told the council that one of the important functions of the newsletter will be providing a feedback forum for residents who don't attend council meetings. Each issue of the newsletter will have a section for complaints, questions and observations about city government that residents can return with their water bill. Rice said the idea for the newsletter came from other cities. The first issue of the newsletter will be printed in January.
The City Council will next meet on Nov. 18.