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Berkeley County Council authorizes tax-exempt bonds to Hospice of the Panhandle for 14-bed inpatient facility

May 17, 2012|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD | matthew.umstead@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — The Berkeley County Council on Thursday authorized issuing up to $3 million in tax-exempt bonds to help Hospice of the Panhandle finance the construction of a planned 14-bed inpatient facility and office building.

The council voted 4-0 to approve the request. Council member Jim Whitacre was absent.

At the end of the month, the Jefferson County Commission is expected to consider a similar request by the hospice to authorize the issue of $6 million in bonds, according to hospice Chief Executive Officer Margaret Cogswell.

Hospice of the Panhandle announced last month that it exceeded its $3 million groundbreaking goal for “Building the Dream,” the agency’s capital project campaign.

The new facilities are to be built off a yet-to-be-named road near the Food Lion in Kearneysville, W.Va., Cogswell said.

The project site straddles the Berkeley/Jefferson county line, with 30 percent in Berkeley County and the remainder in Jefferson, Cogswell told council President William L. “Bill” Stubblefield in a May 9 letter.

The project is expected to be completed in about 18 months, Cogswell said in an interview Thursday.

Bids are expected to be awarded next week.

Construction could begin as early as mid-June, Cogswell told county officials.

“Obviously, securing the bond issue is essential to moving this project forward,” Cogswell said in the letter to Stubblefield.

The tax-exempt commercial development revenue bonds issued through the county allows a lower borrowing cost for Hospice of the Panhandle, which Cogswell said has secured a commitment from an area bank to finance a portion of the project cost.

“Our community has long needed an inpatient facility to care for those with pain and other uncontrolled symptoms. We do not wish to delay this project,” she said.

Council members were advised that they cannot be held financially liable for the bonds that are issued.

The hospice project is the second such request that the council approved this month. On May 3, the council authorized the issue of $3.2 million in bonds to help Shenandoah Community Health Center retire some debt and make renovations to its facility along Tavern Road in Martinsburg.

The council, according to state law, can authorize the issue up to $10 million of the commercial revenue bonds per calendar year, officials said.

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