Erlanger board reform nears approval

Erlanger board reform nears approval

May 29th, 2014 by Louie Brogdon in Local Regional News

Erlanger Medical Center

Photo by Tim Barber/Times Free Press.

The long-awaited restructuring of Erlanger hospital's governing board appears to be in the final stretch.

The Hamilton County Commission's legal committee discussed a resolution Wednesday aimed at amending the private act that established the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Hospital Authority. Neither of the two-member committee opposed the resolution, so as long as six of the county's nine commissioners agree next week, the measure will pass.

The amendment would reduce the size of the hospital's board of trustees from 12 to 11 members. And it would streamline the appointment process for board members -- while giving the majority of the say over who is on the hospital board to the Hamilton County mayor.

Under the amendment, the county mayor would get six appointments, which would need to be approved by a majority of the commission. And the county's legislative delegation would get four appointments. Erlanger hospital's chief of staff would also serve as a trustee.

But the amendment wouldn't boot trustees curently serving, Commissioner Jim Fields said. He is chairman of the commission's legal committee.

"Current board members will finish their terms and the new ones will be enacted by attrition," Fields said.

Since the city would lose appointment power, board members Ron Loving, Donnie Hutcherson and Nita Shumaker would finish their terms and be replaced by the county mayor's appointments.

The position occupied by Russell King, who was appointed by the Hamilton County Chancellors, will cease to exist under the amendment.

Commissioner Chester Bankston, who also sits on the legal committee, said the amendment as written seems like a good plan.

"As long as they don't replace all of them at once, that would be a disaster," Bankston said.

Before committee meetings, commissioners heard a resolution that would allow the county to sell 27 acres of Enterprise South Park for $1.4 million to Plastic Omnium Auto Exteriors, a French automotive supplier.

The company is planning to build a facility there that will reportedly create nearly 180 jobs with average salaries of $45,000 a year.

Commissioner Joe Graham praised the potential sale and buildout.

"That is a great family living wage for our community, and there are going to be a lot of them," Graham said.

The Chattanooga City Council will have to pass a similar resolution, since it owns part of the property.

Contact staff writer Louie Brogdon at lbrogdon@timesfreepress.com or at 423-757-6481.