Risk and reward

It?s understandable why Hillsboro residents have questions, even concerns, about the city?s decision to loan up to $1.5 million to HMC/CAH Consolidated Inc., the Kan?sas City-based company that owns Hills?boro Commun?ity Hospital and a few other small health-care facilities in Kansas and a handful of other states.

Many of us remember the company?s promise to build a $10 million facility within three to five years of purchasing the city?s not-for-profit local hospital in 2008. When the company initiated a groundbreaking ceremony in December 2010, hope was buoyant. Those who attended the celebrative event received a commemorative coffee mug, but no construction.

The following year, HMC/CAH filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, stating that investors had renigged on their financial commitments. The hospital project seemed doubtful.

Now the company has renewed our hope, announcing in August?some seven years after the original purchase?that the company is prepared to move ahead.

We believe the project, and the city?s financial involvement in it, is worthy of our support. A major difference today is that USDA has guaranteed the company?s financing through the Bank of Hays for what is estimated now to be an $11.4 million project. USDA sees it as a feasible project. So should we.

While no business-related initiative is guaranteed success, the risk the city is taking is minimal compared to the potential reward of having a quality health-care facility within moments of our homes. A new facility translates into numerous other economic benefits for the community, not the least of which is the generation of nearly $438,000 in annual property-tax revenue to be divided among the city, school district and county.

Mayor Delores Dalke may have said it best in a recent interview: ?Without taking chances, Hillsboro would not be where it is today. There?s always a chance that you can make a mistake, but you have to take some risks in order to keep going.? ?DR