Thomas to serve as point man for commissioners
With Commissioner Jonathan Thomas as its point person, the Union County Board of Commissioners hopes to move forward with negotiations over its hospital.
On Tuesday, Jan. 18, County commissioners named Thomas the board’s liaison to work with Illinois-based consulting group Kaufman Hall on the possible lease. The vote was 4-1, with Kim Rogers dissenting.
The vote came after a majority rejected Rogers’ motion to appoint two commissioners, Thomas and herself, to work with all the parties involved.
“I think it’s important in the spirit of working together,” Rogers said. “I think it’s important for the citizens to see opposing viewpoints with the same end goal.”
The managing lease agreement for CMC-Union, which Carolinas Healthcare System operates, expires in 2020. In addition, there’s an empty emergency department in Waxhaw awaiting a lease agreement.
Exterior construction on the emergency room stopped a year ago, yet the 24,700-square-foot building at the corner of Providence and Gray Byrum roads remains empty. Carolinas HealthCare System, parent company of CMC-Union and CMC-Waxhaw, owns the 8.65-acre parcel where the stand-alone emergency department would operate. The county, meanwhile, would lease the building for 10 years.
The county began making $51,322.86 monthly rental payments on Nov. 1, 2009, even though the two parties do not have a lease agreement. Additionally, CMC-Union would be responsible for $5.2 million to cover the interior fixtures of the building, such as furniture and lights.
With that history in place, Thomas said he felt a fresh start was important.
“In my opinion, there’s been a lack of transparency with the previous board,” Thomas said. “I want to move forward.”
Thomas and the rest of the current board majority took issues with discussions the previous board had about potentially selling CMC-Union. After last May’s primary, Rogers, who was then chairing the county board, sent out a press release that the hospital was off the market. Thomas also pointed out that he had asked Rogers in a prior meeting to work with him on the Piedmont Behavioral Healthcare board and she refused.
“We will be cordial, but we disagree,” Thomas said. “We’re going to start fresh and new. People voted in new leadership.”
Kaufman Hall will still work as the lead negotiators with Carolinas Healthcare System.