NEW ALBANY — What are Floyd County’s priorities in 2019?
The commissioners and county council made their own list at a special joint meeting Tuesday afternoon. And if the two bodies accomplish all of their goals, 2019 will be a busy year.
Funding the county’s new Legacy Foundation with proceeds from the sale of Floyd Memorial Hospital to Baptist Health was the consensus choice as the top priority for next year. The guidelines for the foundation have been put in place, now all Legacy needs are funds.
The county already invested $70 million from the sale with the Community Foundation of Southern Indiana and receives around $3.5 million a year in spend rate from that investment. The county will receive around $5.6 million a year from Baptist Health in the next seven years. That is the money that will go into the new foundation.
Unlike the CFSI investment, county officials would be able to spend the principal five years after the initial investment. But they will receive interest income from the investment each year. There is also around $15 million in the hospital fund that can be invested now into the Legacy Foundation if the council and commissioners choose to do that before the end of the year.
Also, on Dec. 28, the county can request Baptist pay off its note in one lump sum, estimated to be around $36 million. Baptist would have one year to make the payment. It is likely the county will do that in order to get more interest revenue through Stockyard Bank where the money will be invested.
Council President Brad Striegel said it’s important for the council and commissioners to agree on how much to invest and what to do with the yearly revenue.
“What do we do with the spend rate money? How do we spend that money?” he asked.
Councilman Dale Bagshaw said spending and investing the hospital proceeds should be priority one.
“We need to come to a consensus between the commissioners and council,” he said. “What do we do with the spend rate revenue?”
A county cash flow study will also be part of discussion surrounding the hospital money spend rate.
Roads and paving were second on the list, followed by ambulance coverage for the county and an efficiency study on all county offices.
Currently New Chapel handles county calls for ambulance service and is paid $140,000 a year. Yellow Ambulance canceled the contract earlier this year with the county after the two could not agree on a payment amount. A long-term solution for county ambulance service is expected in 2019.
Committees were set up for each item on the list to look at the issue and come back with answers and suggestions to the two bodies.
“We wanted to get a priority list for 2019. What things are important so we are working together so each body knows what the other is up to,” Striegel said. “Where is the funding going? We want to hit the ground running in 2019. We have been talking about all of these issues, now it’s time to get some things done.”
Council Vice President Denise Konkle said she would like to meet with the commissioners once a month to discuss issues.
“I am always open to communication. If there is nothing to talk about we won’t meet,” Commissioner John Schellenberger said.
Other items discussed as priorities included employee benefits, paying off bonds for the jail renovations, and publishing a revised employee handbook.