Heffernan trustees manage to zero in on big problem … fix air conditioning

July 05, 2001|By AARON CLAVERIE, Staff Writer

CALEXICO — 1. Fix the air conditioning.

2. Bring in medical service providers and hear their pitches.

3. Fix the air conditioning.

4. Move forward free of debt now that the 2001 bonds have been sold.

5. Fix the air conditioning.

At Tuesday night's meeting of the Heffernan Memorial Hospital District board, the trustees discussed a number of pressing issues but one took precedence.

"We will do something about this air conditioning," Trustee David Ouzan said as he fanned himself.

"I'm not going to come here and sit through another meeting being uncomfortable," Ouzan added.

"Quit," deadpanned Chairwoman Norma Apodaca.

Ouzan smiled at Apodaca.


To address the heat, the board decided to ask City Manager Richard Inman to use the city air-conditioning specialist.

Air conditioning is a big issue for the board since a lot of worries of the past have been addressed.

Board attorney Eduardo Rivera gave the trustees the final numbers for the district/city's "joint powers association" 2001 bond issuance and sale.

The authority sold $8,280,312.50 in bonds the morning of June 28.

With that money, the authority paid off more than $1 million of debt owed to the city Redevelopment Agency and creditors in San Diego and Oregon.

The authority is made up of two hospital district trustees and two City Council members.

The authority approved the 2001 issuance to take advantage of lower interest rates and pay down debt.

The amount of the bond sale turned out to be lower than expected, according to Rivera.

He said Robert Swerdling of Minneapolis-based Piper Jaffray financial services shaved around $3 million off the original amount he had proposed to issue and sell.

The district and the authority won't see any of the money.

The 2001 bonds will be paid off with money taken in by the half-cent sales tax approved by Calexico area voters in 1992 to offset losses for medical services provided to indigent patients at Calexico Hospital, which closed for the last time in 1997.

Once the bonds are paid off, the half-cent sales tax will end because of an agreement orchestrated by city Treasurer Rudolfo Moreno.

That means Calexico shoppers will pocket extra change sometime after 2005, according to Swerdling.

Since Swerdling sold $8.2 million in bonds instead of $11 million, the bonds will be paid off earlier.

Now that the district board is free of debt, the board moved to bring medical services to Calexicans.

The strongest proposal it has received is from Clinicas de Salud del Pueblo Inc.

Clinicas, which operates medical facilities throughout the county, has offered to provide medical services in the Calexico Hospital building from 6 p.m. to midnight seven days a week.

That would augment services Clinicas provides at its Cole Road location.

Other suitors include El Centro Regional Medical Center and Dr. Leroy Brown of Indio.

The board selected those three to present proposals and will send the rest of the applicants "thank you" letters. The public presentations will be July 11.

The board hopes to have the air conditioning fixed by then.

In other action Tuesday, the board appointed trustees Mark Perrone and Ray Falcon as representatives on the joint powers authority.

Trustee Rosie Fernandez and Ouzan served as reps during the sale of the 2001 bonds.

Apodaca thanked Fernandez for her work and dedication.

"We're all appreciative," she added.

Staff Writer Aaron Claverie can be reached at 337-3419.

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