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Phoebe Putney Health System nears $1 million in voluntary payments in lieu of taxes

Health system makes payments to help maintain tax base

Officials at Phoebe Putney Health System say they paid nearly $1 million last year in payments in lieu of taxes on its properties, including $628,653 on Phoebe North. (Albany Herald file photo)

Officials at Phoebe Putney Health System say they paid nearly $1 million last year in payments in lieu of taxes on its properties, including $628,653 on Phoebe North. (Albany Herald file photo)

ALBANY — Phoebe Putney Health System paid almost $1 million in total payments made in lieu of taxes made for Phoebe North as well as other properties in 2013, officials say.

In December, Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital made a payment of $628,653 to the tax director of Dougherty County under the Voluntary Payment in Lieu of Taxes, or VPILOT, program, officials said Wednesday, to make up for the lost ad valorem taxes when Phoebe North — formerly Palmyra Medical Center — was acquired by the Hospital Authority of Albany-Dougherty County and subsequently taken off the tax rolls.

In addition, Phoebe officials say, voluntary payments have been made over several years on a number of properties the health system owns that are not being used for medical purposes. For the 92 acres that applies to in Dougherty County, Phoebe made a payment in December of $274,138 in property taxes. For the properties in other counties, $2,006 was paid to the city of Dawson, $7,451 went to Terrell County, $2,464 was paid to the city of Americus, Sumter County received $21,836, the city of Pelham got $923 and Mitchell County was given a payment of $813.

This comes out to a total of $938,284 in VPILOT payments last year.

“To the tune of $938,000, we are a good corporate citizens,” said Kerry Loudermilk, chief financial officer for the health system, at the hospital board meeting on Wednesday.

The hospital board approved the VPILOT agreement in 2012 that commits officials to make annual payments in lieu of taxes on the properties acquired by the Hospital Authority as a result of the purchase of the former Palmyra. Tommy Chambless, senior vice president and general counsel for Phoebe Putney Health System, said then that officials had considered this an important element so the $195 million purchase of the 18 properties included in the acquisition would not be detrimental financially to Dougherty County taxpayers.

On Wednesday, he said essentially the same thing.

“The whole point was to make sure the tax base was not negatively impacted,” Chambless said. “I don’t think the administration at Phoebe, the boards or the Authority that, when the acquisition was made (they wanted it to) negatively impact the tax base. They’ve done exactly what they said they would do.”

Just prior to the regular hospital board meeting, there was an annual meeting conducted Wednesday for the election of officers. John Culbreath and Mary Helen Dykes are remaining in their positions as chair and vice chair, respectively. Committee assignments have Tim Dill as the hospital’s Finance Committee chair, Mary Helen Dykes as the Professional Affairs Committee chair and Ron Wallace as the Community Benefit Committee chair.

The VPILOT payment for the 2012 calendar year was supposed to be in the sum of $376,612.01, the amount of ad valorem tax paid with respect to the acquired tangible properties in 2011. The agreement stated that future payments may be affected by changes in the Dougherty County millage rates as well as future changes reflecting the fair market value of Phoebe North properties.

The VPILOT agreement was executed on Aug. 1, 2012, the same day the amended and restated lease for Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital that brought Phoebe North under the same license went into effect.