Ocean City Today

Council approves AGH funding for five years

By Greg Ellison | Feb 15, 2018

(Feb. 16, 2018) Finalizing a funding pledge made to Atlantic General Hospital last Monday, the City Council approved contributing $100,000 annually for five years to support capital projects, including expanded emergency room facilities, at its Tuesday work session.

During last week’s council meeting, AGH President and CEO Michael Franklin, reviewed finances, projects and initiatives, as the institution marks its 25th anniversary.

Franklin said to continue serving the needs of an aging population, as well as addressing behavioral health challenges such as opioid use and nutritional deficiencies, the hospital’s “Capital Campaign for the Future” is seeking to raise a portion of the $35 million total investment for facility upgrades.

“A big part is access to care and quality of care,” he said. “We’re looking to the community for $10 million in donations.”

Although sentiments sided strongly in favor of providing the money at that time, the council agreed to research what funds might be available before making a commitment.

On Tuesday, Budget Manager Jennie Knapp confirmed the money could be taken from the current fiscal year budget.

“We went back through the budget and do believe $100,000 can be found,” she said.

Knapp told the council the fund balance at the end of the fiscal 2017 budget year contained enough money to accommodate the contribution to AGH.

During the current budget year, Knapp said more than $1.5 million has been appropriated from fund balance for a current balance of approximately $6.4 million, which is above the 15 percent required reserve level.

Knapp also noted $2 million is required from the fiscal 2019 budget for pay-as-you-go projects.

If council funds all of those items, Knapp said there would be roughly $2.9 million remaining in unassigned fund balance.

While not originally budgeted in fiscal 2018, Knapp said the $100,000 request could be covered by excess revenues and would be included in the close-of-year budget amendment.

For the next four years, the money would be appropriated from fund balance during the annual budget process, Knapp said.

Councilman John Gehrig said although Worcester County government previously donated a large sum to the hospital’s capital campaign, most of the county’s contribution came from Ocean City taxpayers.

“It (the county’s funding) was $200,000 and that’s $120,000 from our taxpayers,” he said. “Sixty percent of that the county contribution came from us too.”

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