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ECRMC costs increase by $11 million

March 08, 2001|By RUDY YNIGUEZ, Staff Writer

The El Centro City Council was told Wednesday that bids for continued construction at El Centro Regional Medical Center were higher than expected and the hospital now needs $39.3 million versus $28 million.

Councilman Jack Terrazas, who is also a hospital trustee, said the bids came in about $7.5 million higher than expected. He said the remainder of the difference is due to other costs associated with financing the higher amount.

Representatives of the hospital's board of trustees and the hospital's attorney will undergo interviews next week before a state financing agency, CalMortgage, for the additional funds.

"The signs are very positive but we have to go through the formal process," Terrazas said this morning, adding that the mere fact that the interviews are taking place is a good sign.

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Adding to the likelihood that the hospital will get the additional funds is a so-called disproportionate cost-share adjustment the facility received in the form of $1.7 million yearly in increased Medicare and Medical reimbursements.

The money comes through bonds floated by CalMortgage and bought by investors who earn interest on the bonds and tax breaks due to holding government bonds.

City Attorney James Darrow told the council interest rates are in the range of 5.5 percent.

He also said a high level of construction under way in the San Diego area and other market factors is resulting in higher construction costs locally, hence the increase in the bids.

In other business, the City Council was urged to conduct a study of the city's older buildings and if appropriate designate them as historical.

City Historical Commission member Jay von Werlhof told the council one of the buildings the city should so designate is the old Masonic Temple, which was on the council agenda for discussion of its structural condition.

"That Masonic Lodge is a real gem," von Werlhof said. "I know it has wrinkles."

Concerns have been raised regarding the building's safety as plaster has fallen from the arcade onto the sidewalk, a public area the city is liable for.

The building's owner did not appear as scheduled, and the council directed city staff to meet with the owner and report back to the council.

In other business, the council:

l set June 20 for a joint public hearing between the City Council and the Redevelopment Agency on the potential for adding certain areas of the city into the RDA. The areas lie mostly to the southeast, north, east and northeast;

l approved a job description and salary range for the new position of city director of parks and recreation. The salary range is $4,025-$6,372 monthly;

l presented a certificate of appreciation to county Supervisor Hank Kuiper — a former member of the City Council — for his dedicated service to the hospital board;

l was informed of a new campaign by Valley Environmental Services to get people to place their trash, recyclable and green waste containers on the curb and not in the street for pick up. Placing the containers in the street blocks street sweepers.

Staff Writer Rudy Yniguez can be reached at 337-3440.

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