Monday, January 7, 2013

Expect county to sell Hillcrest land

Hillcrest north campus (photo by J. Miles Cary)
First post of the year. About time, I suppose. Just really getting back after a good amount of time off for the holidays.

Anyhoo, had a story in this weekend's paper about a deal between the county and Hillcrest HealthCare Communities that could lead to the nursing home securing the property where it operates for about $5.3 million. It currently pays the county $1 a year to lease a combined 33 acres in the north, south and west parts of the county.

Hillcrest has tried this before and it didn't work out, I think mostly because Paul Pinkston was on the commission and he wanted to let others bid. Ornery, yet charismatic he was able to get enough of the then-19 member commission on board. In the end, officials just extended the least.

I don't expect that to happen this time. Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett has the six votes he needs to sell the property. Plus, he's going to argue that regardless of whether the deal is put out to bid, only Hillcrest can continue to use it as a nursing home for the indigent. And he's pretty much right. (It all comes down to Hillcrest owning the “certificate of need” to operate a nursing home and that's based on local demographics and the need for beds.)

Sooooo . . . expect this to pass. The board is supposed to talk about it during its work session and voting meeting later this month, but it is possible that it gets deferred for until February out of courtesy to any member who wants to further study the matter.

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