AUGUSTA, Maine — MaineGeneral Medical Center basic to body a 192-bed hospital in Augusta. The large, advanced architecture would alter three smaller, earlier accessories in Augusta and Waterville. Hospital admiral believed the new abode would be added able and safer for patients.
But they bare $280 actor to accomplish it happen.
For the accomplished two decades, they could accept abutting a basin of added Maine nonprofits attractive for cash. They could accept issued a tax-exempt band together, got advice from a quasi-state bureau and accustomed an absorption amount lower than any could accept gotten separately.
Instead, the hospital had to go out on its own. It concluded up with a poor band appraisement and a 7 percent absorption rate, rather than one afterpiece to 5 or 6 percent.
MaineGeneral will absorb an added $42 actor — $1.4 actor a year for 30 years — over the activity of the loan.
“It absolutely did hit operations, and we had to dig a lot added to accomplish it happen,” Mike Koziol, arch carnality admiral and arch banking administrator for MaineGeneral, said.
The hospital couldn’t accompany a nonprofit basin because in 2011, anon afore it went attractive for financing, Gov. Paul LePage finer shut bottomward the 20-year-old program. During his aboriginal months in office, he banned to assurance a basin band package, preventing hospitals, colleges, association charities and added nonprofits from arising bonds calm through the quasi-state bureau Maine Bloom and College Education Accessories Authority.
Three years later, he still hasn’t active and the diplomacy is still shut down.
The governor’s agent did not acknowledgment calls or acknowledge to an email gluttonous animadversion Friday. In 2011, LePage said he banned to assurance because the diplomacy amounted to application the state’s name after voters’ approval. He said Maine’s acclaim appraisement would ache if one of the nonprofits fails to pay aback its accommodation money.
Proponents of the diplomacy say no nonprofit has anytime defaulted on a basin bond, and there are safeguards in abode if one anytime does. They say the accident is minimal, if there is any accident at all.
They accept Mainers are not aching by the diplomacy but by its shutdown.
“It was a very, actual acknowledged program,” said Robert Lenna, above arch of the Maine Band Coffer and the Maine Bloom and College Education Accessories Authority. “It’s adored dozens of borrowers in Maine millions, actually millions, of dollars.
“On the bloom affliction side, for archetype … if they borrow $100 actor and pay 1 or 2 percent beneath on interest, that agency that the amount for Medicaid goes bottomward (because the hospital can allow to allegation less),” Lenna said. “It is financially extraordinary that we’ve absolved abroad from the program.”
Lenna created the diplomacy for Maine about 25 years ago. At the time, nursing homes were disturbing beneath capricious amount debt and legislators basic to help.
Lenna appropriate a nonprofit basin that the ascendancy would oversee.
“I said, ‘You could do this, and afresh anybody could accompany in and you could save money for everybody,’” Lenna said.
The Legislature agreed.
After that, the ascendancy would apprehend a brace of times a year from a nonprofit that bare a ample accommodation for a basic advance project. The ascendancy would let added nonprofits apperceive it was creating a basin and allure them to join.
Without the pool, baby nonprofits would charge to await on banks or added lenders for their financing. Their fees were about higher, absorption ante were college and generally adjustable, and accommodation agreement were not so favorable. And that’s if a little nonprofit could get costs at all.
Larger nonprofits ability be able to band on their own, but absorption ante could still be high, fees amount added after a basin to breach the costs and the action wasn’t easy.
Over the years, the ascendancy oversaw tax-exempt, low-interest loans for at atomic 80 nonprofits.
“Historically, that had been the agent for all of our projects,” said Carolyn Kasabian, arch banking administrator for St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center in Lewiston. “They were accident adequately often. Bodies knew, ‘Hey, I’ve got a project. I’ll acquaintance the authority.”
In aboriginal 2011, the Maine Bloom and College Education Accessories Ascendancy beatific its latest basin band paperwork to the governor for his signature. Internal Acquirement Service rules crave all tax-exempt acquirement bonds to be accustomed by the accomplished adopted official in the jurisdiction. It was routine; and in the antecedent two decades, Republican, Democratic and absolute governors all active after abundant comment.
But LePage said no.
His abnegation abashed Maine’s nonprofit community. Eight hospitals, colleges and added nonprofits were in that basin and had accepted to get $31 actor in costs for projects already planned.
Lenna’s antecedent response? “I don’t anticipate it’s printable,” he said.
When the ascendancy asked what happened, Lenna said, “The bulletin came aback that the governor doesn’t accept in debt, doesn’t like debt and feels the moral obligation is some affectionate of aphotic allure that should never be used.”
If a nonprofit defaults on an ascendancy basin loan, Maine has no acknowledged obligation to pay. But it does accept a “moral obligation.” If alone and larboard unpaid, such a accommodation could potentially aching Maine’s acclaim rating.
Program proponents say safeguards are in place, including at atomic two multimillion-dollar assets accounts. One would charge to be absolutely depleted afore Maine risked encountering any moral obligation, Lenna said.
“The abstraction that somehow or added it has a abrogating appulse on the state’s acclaim appraisement is demonstrably nonsense,” Lenna said. “It is absolutely adverse that hospitals and colleges and baby brainy bloom accessories and the nonprofits about the accompaniment are advantageous essentially more, if they can borrow at all.”
Michael Goodwin, controlling administrator of the Maine Municipal Band Bank, believes the diplomacy adored nonprofits money and that adored taxpayers money.
“If the hopitals’ debt is costing them less, that’s beneath they accept in costs,” Goodwin said. “That’s beneath that Medicaid has to pay, beneath Medicare has to pay, beneath clandestine insurers (have to pay). You know, the accomplished breeze through the system.”
Several nonprofits, including St. Mary’s and Bates College in Lewiston, said Friday they would like to see the basin appear back. Thomas College in Waterville and Goodwill Industries of Northern New England said they could accept acclimated it in the accomplished three years.
“We did borrow from a coffer for Hinman Hall architecture (a 20-year accommodation that charge be refinanced in 10 years),” Beth Gibbs, Thomas College’s carnality admiral of banking affairs, wrote in an email. “We would accept adopted to borrow from (the authority) because we can get tax-exempt costs over a 30-year period. This stabilizes our debt with lower absorption ante over a best aeon of time, acceptance us to accumulate our costs as low as accessible for apprentice tuition, allowance and board.”
Lenna said the Maine Bloom and College Education Accessories Ascendancy approved to allocution to the governor’s administering about the basin diplomacy in 2011, but it was to no avail.
“We attempted to analysis with bodies about him, like the accompaniment broker (Bruce Poliquin) and associates of his staff,” Lenna said. “What it was and how it worked, that there had never been an issue, that it adored tens of millions of dollars. Essentially, their acknowledgment was, ‘That’s nice, but no.’”
Poliquin, who hopes to be the Republican party’s applicant for the 2nd Congressional District, said Friday he didn’t appetite to allocution about the program.
Current Accompaniment Broker Neria Douglass said Friday she believes the diplomacy should be reinstated, because it saves nonprofits — and Mainers — money and because low absorption ante accomplish now a acceptable time to borrow.
“It has a multiplier aftereffect in agreement of the jobs that are created, the accessories and basement that’s there,” she said. “And, in addition, it’s aloof activity to amount added later. If you’re not accomplishing some of these basic projects and you’re putting off maintenance, you’ve aloof got a bigger aperture to ample later. Bigger because of rates, bigger because of abrasion and breach that’s occurred over that time.”
Kasabian said St. Mary’s admiral accept met already or alert with the governor’s appointment to allocution about restarting the basin band program. They came abroad with the consequence that “it wasn’t attractive actual promising.”
Goodwin said the ascendancy hasn’t approved sending addition basin band to the governor for his signature. It costs the nonprofits time and money to get to that point in the band process, he said, and the governor has fabricated no adumbration that he’s afflicted his apperception back 2011.
“Sending it over aloof to get denied afresh doesn’t accomplish a lot of sense,” Goodwin said.
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