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Salins again challenges EDA on Valley Health bond fee payment

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As a trio of Valley Health officials watch, Melanie Salins takes a final, unsuccessful June 11 stab at getting a municipal push in support of mandating full women’s health care at a new Warren Memorial Hospital. Despite her efforts that evening, by a 3-1 vote, Connolly dissenting, Gillespie and Morrison absent, the Front Royal Town Council became the third and final local board to approve a $60-million EDA bond issue for the WMH project. Royal Examiner File Photo

Near the outset of the October 9 Front Royal Town Council meeting, Melanie Salins revisited her criticism of what she believes is a “sweetheart” deal delivered to Valley Health on a $60-million construction loan for a new Warren Memorial Hospital by the Front Royal-Warren County Economic Development Authority.

Salins is a founding member of “Birth Local” a grassroots group that unsuccessfully lobbied town and county government and Valley Health to preserve full women’s health services, including a maternity unit, at a new county hospital.

EDA officials and bond consultants have insisted that forgiving annual fees stretching over the life of a bond issue in favor of a one-time fee paid up front is business as usual in a competitive municipal market.

But during the public concerns portions of this week’s town council meeting, Salins said the agreed-upon one-time payment of $240,000 equates to a little over two years of annual fees on the front end of the loan.  She estimated an annual loss in the range of $75,000 per year.

Paperwork on the Valley Health Industrial Revenue Bond issue through the EDA states that a “final maturity date” will occur “no later than January 1, 2050 – 32 years away.  However, EDA Executive Director Jennifer McDonald said such bond issues are “typically” paid off or refinanced, removing the EDA’s original loan from the equation, in from 5 to 10 years.  McDonald has also noted that the annual fee is based on 1/8 of 1% of the remaining annual balance of the loan.

Regardless of such explanations, Salins told town officials that municipal officials in other jurisdictions she had contacted around the commonwealth contested the up-front, one-time fee rationale as business as usual, one going so far as to laugh at the idea.

See Salins side of the argument in this video courtesy of Dewaye Coats, Warren County.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Brittany Martin

    October 14, 2018 at 6:14 am

    Melanie Salins is right. The fact that the town government as well as the EDA have been whining about the budget and never having funds to benefit the town and it’s citizens is laughable as well as blasphemous to have let this happen. How and why was this passed? And did you ever think that a fine upstanding citizen like Mrs. Salins, was going to do her research and call out the town for blatant stupidity behind there actions?-(my personal opinion, based on facts at hand)

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