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Walker Co. Commissioner creates special district to pay down county's debt to Erlanger

Erlanger Health System sued Walker County in 2016 after they say the county refused to pay its portion of a loan to keep open Hutcheson Medical Center (now Cornerstone Medical Center). (Image: WTVC)

Walker County Sole Commissioner Shannon Whitfield called for the formation of a special district to generate funds to pay down Walker County's debt owed to Erlanger Health System.

Erlanger Health System sued Walker County in 2016 after they say the county refused to pay its portion of a loan to keep open Hutcheson Medical Center (now Cornerstone Medical Center).

A judge ordered Walker County to pay Erlanger $8.7 million plus interest and attorney's fees.

During his regular meeting Thursday night, Commissioner Whitfield created and established the Walker County Public Health Facilities and Services District.

"This special district will generate at least $2.5 million a year to pay down our debt to Erlanger," says Whitfield. "I've asked their management team to remember it's the people of Walker County who are ultimately paying the price for the mistakes of the past. As we continue to work with Erlanger on a payment plan, my hope is they will show some compassion to our citizens, who are also their patients."

Commissioner Whitfield says the special district allows for a special assessment to be charged on each parcel of property, beginning October 1, 2017.

The annual fee will be 0.14% of the fair market value, up to a maximum of $1,000.

The special assessment on a home with a market value of $75,000 would be $105.

Property valued at $200,000 will be charged a $280 fee.

The Walker County Public Health Facilities and Services District will terminate in three years.

Depend on us for more details as this story develops.

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