Heffernan hospital district to consider a refinancing plan

February 08, 2001

for $9.2 million debt


CALEXICO — In coming weeks the Heffernan Memorial Hospital District here will visit a plan aimed at refinancing the more than $9.25 million in bond debt being paid off by a half-cent sales tax.

The goal, district administrative assistant Henry Legaspi said, is to pay off the bonds earlier than the predicted 2007 or 2008 so the hospital board can focus its efforts on paying past debts not covered by the sales tax.

Legaspi said the district will likely call a special meeting next week to meet with a representative from the financial firm of Piper Jaffrey to discuss refinancing options. At the moment, the bond interest is 7.4 percent.


"(The Piper Jaffrey representative) believes the debt can be refinanced as low as 4.5 percent," Legaspi said.

If the refinancing can be achieved, he said the district could possibly utilize more than $3 million in an early retirement fund set up to pay off the bonds faster. That money could go to pay others debts incurred by the district, including a $450,000 debt to the Calexico Redevelopment Agency, a $900,000 bill to MedCap of Portland, Ore., and a $170,000 settlement with a pharmaceutical company.

All debts were incurred during past operation of Calexico Hospital.

The Redevelopment Agency has initiated litigation against the hospital district over the $450,000 even though the district made a payment of $150,000.

Still, Legaspi said with interest the bill to the RDA remains around $450,000.

"In all my discussions with the City Council and (Mayor Javier) Alatorre, certain members of the council believe the district has $600,000 stashed away some place," Legaspi said. "I think that's why we can't work anything out on the RDA loan."

He added the district has less than $300,000 in its coffers thanks to property taxes.

In other hospital district business:

· negotiations have apparently stalled between the district and Imperial Valley Family Care Medical Group for the establishment of a clinic in the vacant Calexico Hospital. Legaspi said there has been no contact between district officials and I.V. Family Care director Dr. Mario Ceja. During a meeting of the district on Wednesday, the board directed staff to contact Ceja;

· district board members directed staff on Wednesday to look into the feasibility of the district operating a clinic in Calexico Hospital, a move that would involve the district directly employing physicians with Med-Cal and Medicare provider numbers and other employees;

· new board Trustee Ray Falcon was sworn in Wednesday by Calexico City Clerk Lourdes Cordova;

· Feb. 10 marks the close of applications for the fifth and final board vacancy formerly held by Jack Anderson. Legaspi said the district has so far received just one application — from Calexico resident Mark Perrone.

Staff Writer Richard Montenegro can be reached at 337-3453.

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