Health Care

More | | | Editor

City matching funds not needed to fund new GRU cancer center

State finance director says $45 million is available

Monday, Jan. 20, 2014 8:54 PM
Last updated Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2014 1:06 AM
  • Follow Latest News

Augusta officials are scrambling to add $8 million in funding to help Georgia Regents University save more than $40 million in funding for a new cancer center. But a top state finance director said the money is already available and no matching funds are needed.

Augusta Commission members said they were told that the community needed to put up $8 million in special purpose local option sales tax money in order to get other funding to commit to the new cancer center, which will house new cancer research space.

“If we can get $8 million they will get another $4 million and the state will give $48 million,” Mayor Pro Tem Corey Johnson said.

“They want a local commitment in the game,” Commissioner Mary Davis said. “I think the total is $12 million.”

She said she was told by Michael Shaffer, the vice president of government and community affairs and chief advocacy officer for GRU, that if not, the money would go to “another institution, another medical university.”

Several commissioners heard roughly the same thing but did not have specifics.

However, Susan Barcus, the senior vice president for advancement and community relations and chief development officer for GRU, said “this really isn’t coming from us. Actually, our friends at the city are the ones that were really excited about what was going on in cancer and it moved from them, not from us.”

She said if the university can get “$12.5 million by June 30, 2014, in the bank for GSFIC (Georgia State Financing and Investment Commission), what would happen is then we get a $45 million match from the state, which is a great leveraging tool.”

But “that’s not correct,” said Lee McElhannon, the director of bond finance for GSFIC. The $45 million was part of a bond sale last June that closed in July and now awaits university action, he said.

“It is currently available,” McElhannon said. “Basically, the project can be initiated, the $45 million is available, they just have to follow the (commission rules for capital projects). But they can get going on that.”

While tax-exempt bonds usually have to be spent within five years or there are problems, these bonds were sold as taxable so there is no time limit on using the money and they offer greater flexibility to university officials in their use in combining with other types of funding, he said.

The $12.5 million is listed as philanthropy to fill out the rest of the $62.5 million project, which would rely on $50 million in bond funding, $5 million of which will be issued next fiscal year, according to an August University System of Georgia Board of Regents agenda item reducing the price of the project from $99.45 million. Construction costs are listed as $44.5 million. While it is necessary to have the money in the bank to sign contracts, it is not unusual to start work on a project and continue fundraising, McElhannon said.

GRU spokeswoman Christen Carter said in an e-mail that the funding would not disappear if the $12.5 million is not raised by June 30, adding, “I think there may have been confusion over that point.”

If the university did not raise any of the $12.5 million, “I guess they probably have to do some redesign, some rethinking of the project and maybe adjust it in some way,” McElhannon said.

The $12.5 million is just part of $100 million the university wants to raise for the new cancer center “in order to do the clinical trials we need to do, to grow with the people and the research, the clinical care and the facility needs,” Barcus said. And the support from the city “is key,” she said. “It shows that Augusta is very supportive of one of its assets, the GRU Cancer Center. The money from the city would mix in and really make a huge difference.”

Comments (14) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
Little Lamb
43846
Points
Little Lamb 01/21/14 - 09:08 am
5
0
Thank you

Thank you, Tom Corwin and Susan McCord for clearing this up. We see clearly above that some one person (probably Mayor Copenhaver) presented this false information for no other purpose than generating a frenzy to get a SPLOST list of projects on the table for a rushed referendum on May 20.

Sadly, our commissioner from the third district just fell for Copenhaver's spiel without doing one scintilla of verification.

Our commission is inbred. They are sheep following a wolf shepherd. They are lemmings. They are chicken little.

To rush into a SPLOST referendum without adequate public hearings is wrong. The commission needs to put a civilian committee together from across the whole county to allow public input to begin the preparation of the list. This process will take more than a year to do properly. But we have more than a year. The current SPLOST program is more than a year before it runs out. There is no need to rush.

But if your idea of good government is to have Copenhaver ram his ideas down the throats of commissioners in secret meetings in smoke-filled rooms, then you deserve what you get.

dichotomy
30625
Points
dichotomy 01/21/14 - 09:11 am
4
0
So let me get this straight.

So let me get this straight. So I SHOULD NOT see this on the PANIC EXCUSE LIST for the next SPLOST???????

Riverman1
79476
Points
Riverman1 01/21/14 - 09:51 am
3
2
Unbelievable

As I said before, there was no need for the $8 million in local tax money for this state project. Mary Davis said she was told if the city didn't kick in the center would go to another institution. Huh? Where else would they build the cancer research center? Athens medical school that doesn't even have a teaching hospital nearby? Heh, heh, heh. This county government hears "spend millions downtown" and is so ready to do it even if the money hasn't been requested. Unbelievable.

David Parker
7923
Points
David Parker 01/21/14 - 10:23 am
2
0
Whatever is going to remove

Whatever is going to remove delay from building the thing. That's what I'm for doing. The cancer ain't getting any younger see. Get some of the money over to an earth-mover and let them start grading. Weather is fine and there are alot of sick folks. Dig?

Little Lamb
43846
Points
Little Lamb 01/21/14 - 12:53 pm
5
2
Holiday Inn Express

It reminds me of the Holiday Inn Express remodeling down on Broad Street. A private developer bought a run down, seedy hotel and began remodeling. They had matresses piled high on the streets. They hauled away furniture to the landfill. They replaced plumbing, curtains, old inefficient windows. They were doing a great job with their own money and they had the blessing to turn the newly remodeled hotel into a Holiday Inn Express franchise. Then, before the paint dried, in came the Richmond County Development Authority who said, “Why are you doing this with your own money? We can get you some SPLOST money we have lying around in our bank account. Don't you know you're supposed to ask for taxpayer assistance before you develop in Richmond County?”

Esctab
818
Points
Esctab 01/21/14 - 01:17 pm
4
1
Just more evidence that the

Just more evidence that the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing; much less why the other hand is doing or not doing whatever.

In the meantime, we can remain calm knowing that at least GRU already has a cancer research building that is fairly new and a very new treatment center for patients (see the buildings on the corner of Laney Walker and 13th Street ). Maybe while we wait for the new project to get underway we could get a report from GRU regarding the return on investment achieved through the use of the current two cancer buildings?

Sweet son
9710
Points
Sweet son 01/21/14 - 01:32 pm
1
0
@Esctab

I too had questions about the need but a family member who has first hand info tells me that the treatment center is overburdened. With information that patients suffer because of lack of facilities I agree with moving ahead with more treatment facilities. I don't know about research facilities. I also wonder where the facility will be built. Not much real estate left except maybe within the old Gilbert Manor footprint.

Little Lamb
43846
Points
Little Lamb 01/21/14 - 02:29 pm
4
2
Verify

Well, Mayor Copenhaver, in exercising his brief role as temporary City Administrator, has joined the Fred Russell school of management. He put out a panic-driven project to commit $8 million of future SPLOST revenues in order for Grooo to be able to qualify for enough money to guarantee a new cancer center.

Only, Grooo had no idea what the mayor was talking about, and they are going ahead with the cancer center on their own.

Isn't this the style of city management that got Fred Russell fired? He just tells the Commission to trust him and jump on the bandwagon. That's what led to parking-deck-gate, where Fred said, "sign on with me and contract attorney Plunkett and we'll go far." Only later did commissioners find out Russell had provided for a city parking deck to be built on land owned by a Morris-related LLC. It took quite a bit of legal maneuvering to get that straightened out. (And, let's face it, folks, it may not be straightened out at all. After all, we never saw the deed in the paper.)

Our commissioners need to hold back on the trust; and improve on the verify.

Esctab
818
Points
Esctab 01/21/14 - 03:46 pm
0
1
Sweet Son, maybe the new

Sweet Son, maybe the new cancer treatment center that already exists on the corner of Laney Walker and 13th Street was just a concept building (maybe David Brond could clarify). Let’s hope that whatever lessons that needed to be learned from its construction will translate to an improved newer building (whatever and wherever that might be).

David Parker
7923
Points
David Parker 01/21/14 - 04:55 pm
2
0
re: the return on investment

My hope is that it is not in the form of money

Riverman1
79476
Points
Riverman1 01/21/14 - 05:03 pm
1
3
About the Holiday Inn

LL, about the Holiday Inn getting money while renovating, I'll pretty sure T.R. Reddy KNEW it would come before he started. He had a plan to get the money all along. Remember how I commented how strange the renovation looked when they began? It dragged on slowly. I was told by someone downtown who would know that he was waiting for this funding and was going to play it out.

countyman
19155
Points
countyman 01/21/14 - 06:17 pm
2
3
The new Cancer Center will be

The new Cancer Center will be much bigger compare to the existing building and help increase the amount of NIH funding in Augusta..

corgimom
27961
Points
corgimom 01/21/14 - 06:55 pm
1
4
Yeah, that's the Augusta way,

Yeah, that's the Augusta way, allright.

Build a huge Cancer center, with the idea that MAYBE, HOPEFULLY it'll get lots more funding from the NIH.

You know, that was the same rationale for the TEE Center.

dichotomy
30625
Points
dichotomy 01/21/14 - 10:36 pm
0
0
If they screw up this SPLOST

If they screw up this SPLOST list.....if they put a bunch of local PRIVATE stuff on it.....let's just vote NO on it. That will give them 6 months to rethink the error of their ways and bring it back for another vote in November. It's time to let them know we are watching and we are tired of them spending it on downtown only projects and handing out our money to every private, limited interest organization in town who holds their hand out.

Tax money is for GOVERNMENT ONLY projects.....spread AROUND THE COUNTY......not just DOWNTOWN.

Back to Top

Search Augusta jobs