County board supports DCHS plan to seek $25M federal loan

IRON MOUNTAIN — The county board Monday unanimously supported a Dickinson County Healthcare System plan to seek a $25 million federal loan.

The hospital will apply for the loan through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development Agency, with about half to be used to stabilize long-term debt. The remainder will allow for equipment upgrades, including new magnetic resonance imaging services and a medical linear accelerator for radiation oncology, according to Bart Stupak, a Venable LLP attorney who is leading DCHS’s financial restructuring.

“The proposed USDA $25 million loan spread out over 30 years will actually lower DCHS’s monthly financial obligations and provide more efficient and effective medical treatment,” Stupak said in a letter to the board.

“State officials have encouraged us to submit the funding request and are working with us,” he added.

Stupak, a former U.S. congressman for northern Michigan, was hired by DCHS in late September after the hospital board decided to pursue a restructuring that would not require bankruptcy. Venable is a Washington D.C.-based firm that advises

clients on business and regulatory law, legislative affairs and other issues.

The county’s resolution of support was adopted without debate.

Through April, DCHS has reported a year-to-date gain in operating income of $1.3 million, marking a fifth straight month of profitability after losses of about $21 million over the previous three years. After considering bankruptcy near the end of September, DCHS is now poised for a crucial step in its restructuring, with the loan application expected to be completed in July.

“All systems are go,” said Commissioner Joe Stevens, a liaison to the hospital board, which meets Thursday.

Further details on the loan are expected as the application moves forward, said Brian Bousley, county controller.

In other action, the county board:

— Learned that PM Lodging LLC, owner of Pine Mountain Resort in Breitung Township and the neighboring Timberstone Golf Course in Iron Mountain, has filed a property tax appeal with the Michigan Tax Tribunal.

PM Lodging is seeking a reduction in taxable value of roughly 66 percent — from $949,300 to $324,400. The potential annual tax loss is $8,000 to the county operating budget, $10,500 to the city of Iron Mountain, and $2,200 to Breitung Township, said Sid Bray, county equalization director.

— Appointed Michael T. Martin of Iron Mountain to a three-year term on the Fumee Lake Commission.

— Adopted a resolution supporting Aquila Resources and its Back Forty Mine Project in Menominee County. A balance between economic development and environmental protection can be struck, as Michigan has some of the strictest mine regulations in the nation, the resolution states.

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