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Marianna delays vote on 'Project Skeleton' MOU
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Marianna delays vote on 'Project Skeleton' MOU

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Marianna City Hall

Marianna City Hall

Jackson Hospital Administrator Brooke Donaldson and its Board of Trustees President Keith Williams were successful Tuesday in asking that the city of Marianna table until next month a decision on whether to sign a Memorandum of Understanding, a non-binding economic development agreement, with a possible competitor of the hospital.

In addition to in-patient services, the hospital has an outpatient services array. The hospital offers orthopedic and general outpatient surgeries, among other things.

The agreement being considered by the city also proposes incentives to be offered by the Jackson County government.

Williams said later that he and the hospital leaders are grateful for the city’s delay of a decision and that, no matter the eventual outcome, hope beyond all else to keep good relationships with the city and county entities.

Currently code-named “Project Skeleton,” to protect the identity of the business and to honor non-disclosure agreements with it, as is common at this stage of economic development projects, the governments’ representatives are barred from discussing the matter much degree beyond official measures being considered.

According to the agreement being considered, the city intends to waive, pay or rebate business license fees for the first two years. Marianna would also reduce building permit fees by 18 percent; provide expedited processing for development orders and construction permitting, along with any other developmental processes required by the city; waive any and all utility connection fees and any impact fees, for connection to city-owned water, wastewater and natural gas systems; and waive all costs associated with the city owned water and wastewater systems systems during construction phase.

Additionally, if the construction involves natural gas, the city would provide cash incentives to install natural gas equipment; and provide a cash incentive at some point after closing on a date to be determined.

The agreement under review also calls for Jackson County to reimburse seven years of ad valorem taxes beginning in year three of the start of the project.

The intention of the company is stated in the proposed agreement: “Make a minimum capital investment of $6 million to $8 million in a modern facility, new construction or improvements; retain their current 13 employees on staff within the 12 months of the date the Certificate of Occupancy is issued for the developed site;” and, the agreement states, “within 24-36 months, there is a possibility of additional staff being hired with 20 to 25 total employees anticipated.”

The agreement is non-binding until and unless a contract is reached between the city, county and the business.

Williams said he only learned of the proposed agreement minutes before the meeting took place Tuesday.

“We’re concerned that possibly a competitor of Jackson Hospital potentially is involved,” Williams said.

“I attended that meeting that evening, and expressed to the commissioners that the hospital appreciates and respects the city as a partner in delivering health care to city and county. They mirrored that back and said they valued the relationship with the hospital. I asked them to consider waiting before they acted on the agenda item, in hopes that we could communicate with each other,” he continued.

“I would hesitate to jump to too many conclusions, but hope we can work things out with the city and county so that furthers our ability to deliver care to those in the county, including those that can’t afford to pay for it. We’re appreciative of the city, thankful that the city decided to postpone a decision, and looking forward to discussing with them a great deal. The confidentiality agreement is in place and there’s nothing we can do about that although we do respect that but are hoping we’ll be able to talk to the city on some level.”

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