County Commission chairman: Keeping St. Francis Health open is ‘bottom line’ of bond issue proposal

Shawnee County bond counsel Bob Perry, with his back to the camera, spoke at their meeting Monday to County Commissioners Kevin Cook, left, Bob Archer, center, and Shelly Buhler, right. (Tim Hrenchir/The Capital-Journal)

Keeping St. Francis Health open is the “bottom line” of a bond issuance proposal the Shawnee County Commission will consider, Commission Chairman Bob Archer said Monday.


Commissioners Archer, Kevin Cook and Shelly Buhler voted 3-0 that morning to take the first step toward issuing health system revenue bonds totaling $90 million to finance improvements to St. Francis Health.

The vote also acknowledged a request filed July 24 with the county by Topeka Health Systems, LLC, a joint venture between the University of Kansas Health System, a not-for-profit entity, and Nashville, Tenn.-based Ardent Health, a for-profit entity.

THS is acquiring St. Francis Health, which will become a for-profit entity.

Monday’s action arranges for required notices to be sent out so the county can hold an Aug. 10 public hearing, at which residents will be able to ask about the project and the bonds, said Bob Perry, the county’s bond counsel.

The applicants are seeking 10-year property tax exemptions for the properties involved, Perry said.

The bonds involve proposed improvements on 24 parcels of lands, including 14 that have not been on the tax rolls, he said.

The proposed bonds may be paid only from rents and revenues due from THS and any other lessees involved in the project, Perry said.

KU Health System and Ardent Health revealed plans to make large-scale capital investments to St. Francis Health while announcing the planned purchase in May 2017. THS has asked the commission to issue taxable health system revenue bonds totaling an estimated $90 million to finance the renovations and improvements.

Commissioners also heard a report on revenues and expenditures Monday from Betty Greiner, the county’s administrative services director. Revenues through June 30 totaled $88.99 million compared to a budgeted amount of $88.22 million and expenditures totaled $47.36 million compared to a budgeted amount of $42.36 million.

Greiner said she thought the expenditure total was so much higher than the budgeted amount because the county — which pays its employees for 26 pay periods a year — crafted this year’s budget based on its budget for 2016, which included three paydays in July.

This year instead saw three paydays in June, meaning the amount spent by June 30 was higher, Greiner said. She indicated she expected the county by the end of July to make up the difference.

In other business, commissioners:

  • Voted 3-0 to authorize corrections director Brian Cole to negotiate a contract with Brentwood, Tenn.-based Corizon Health to provide medical and mental health services for the county’s adult and juvenile detention centers. A county committee recommended choosing Corizon after examining bids the county received from Corizon and another company.
  • Voted 3-0 to approve a permit enabling Dave and Renee Stevens to establish a kennel facility on the west side of S.W. Wanamaker Road, about 620 feet north of S.W. 61st Street.
  • Voted 3-0 to approve a permit allowing American Tower Corp. to replace an existing 280-foot guyed tower with a 290-foot self-supporting lattice tower on property at 8320 S.W. 85th.
  • Voted 3-0 to enter into a contract with Thomas McGee, LC, arranging for it to continue to provide workers’ compensation claims administration services to Shawnee County from Aug. 1, 2017, through July 31, 2018, while receiving a 2 percent increase in the fees it’s paid.
  • Saw a presentation regarding the Aug. 5 observance here of National Night Out.
  • Heard Buhler say Thursday is the deadline for Silver Lake Township residents to inform commissioners of their interest in filling the vacant treasurer’s seat on the township board. Commissioners have heard from two people who are interested, Buhler said. Dennis O’Brien recently resigned from the board, which has been plagued by controversy.
  • Heard Archer urge voters to cast their ballots in Tuesday’s municipal primary elections while noting the low turnout such elections usually see. “I won’t say it sickens me but it doesn’t make me happy, that’s for sure,” he said. “Please vote.”

Reporter Tim Hrenchir can be reached at (785) 295-1184 or @timhrenchir on Twitter.