The Hoboken City Council meets again tonight to hear from the Hoboken Municipal Hospital Authority about its request to change a porting of the $52 million in bonds guaranteed by the city. The HMHA — which hired Harvey Holzberg of Hudson Healthcare to run the Hoboken University Medical Center — has run out of reserve funds and needs to replenish by taking money earmarked in the bonds for capital projects and using to cover a revenue shortfall. In order to do that the bonds need to be restructured from tax-free to taxable.
The council is not looking for a dog and pony show about how Holzberg “Saved Saint Mary”. What they do want are answers to tough questions about the finances at HUMC, which appear to be following the track of detractors who criticized the structure of Mayor David Roberts “Miracle” plan to take over the money-losing medical facility.
The meeting starts at 7pm at City Hall. Read more about it after the jump, as well as here: (Mason vs. Roberts on HUMC)
5/14/2008 PM Update:
State Meeting Postponed
The rush job to get state approval for Hoboken Municipal Hospital Authority bonding hit a big snag today. We first told you about these bonds last week, even though nobody from the HMHA or the Roberts administration mentioned them during the long debate about shining sunlight on the hospital’s taxpayer-guaranteed finances. Local Finance Board Chairperson Susan Jaccobucci responded to the letter from Councilwoman Beth Mason saying in part:
“We appreciate you brining the matter to our attention. Because the matter is scheduled for a hearing, it is up to the applicant to ask for it to be withdrawn. The applicant has asked us to postpone the hearing until next month… Please be advised that we have shared the issues you raised with the Authority’s Bond Counsel.”
So, no decision today on the new borrowing for operating expenses at the former St. Mary Hospital. Read more below.
5/14/2008 9am Update:
The Hospital Bond Plot thickens!
The Hoboken Municipal Hospital Authority story keeps getting bigger. First Mayor Roberts’ attempt to “demand” Councilwoman Beth Mason drop her lawsuit to open the books at the former St. Mary Hospital backfired when the public turned on him and he could only get two council votes to support it. Then an eagle-eyed Hoboken411 reader found this mysterious legal notice from the HMHA about issuing more bonds. Now we learn that this was all part of an apparent Roberts plan to get some more back-door borrowing schemes through without the public noticing until it was too late. Sorry Dave. We noticed. We’re watching. Closely.
State Meeting on New Bonding TODAY
This morning in Trenton the state Local Finance Board will be asked to approve a bond sale from the Hospital Authority. This bond sale was not approved by the City Council. It’s a move most members of the Council are only now finding out about. This even though the last council voted to support the current round of $52 million in bonds guaranteed by the full faith and credit of the City of Hoboken. Councilwoman Mason has written to the state Attorney General and Department of Community Affairs to prevent the LFB from approving this latest round of unapproved borrowing.
Mason Looks To Block Bond Sale
In her letter Mason says that the $12 million bond issue was never discussed or approved by the city council – even though city taxpayers are liable for the bonds if the Authority defaults. Her position is the council should have been told about the bond sale and that state law requires a resolution of the city council before such a bond sale can take place. The second ward representative says neither she nor five other members of the city council she spoke with have been informed of the bond sale.
Mason requested that the Attorney General’s office stop the bond sale hearing and “immediately commence a full and comprehensive review into this matter in the hope of insuring that all applicable laws, rules and regulations are complied with both literally and in spirit.”
More Secret Financial Deals?
After all that talk at the City Council meeting last week about the Hospital Authority and it’s finances, not once did Mayor Roberts or HMHA Executive Director George Crimmins mention the proposed sale of new bonds. Did Councilmembers-at-Large Ruben Ramos and Terry LaBruno even know this was coming?
After all, they were the ones who signed their names to Roberts’ “Silence Beth Mason” bill, which one member of the public said was an “Ostrich Resolution” for the way it chose to bury the heads of the council in the sand. The Hospital Authority refuses to detail its financial progress to the City Council. They are left to see the same slick ads and fliers that the rest of us see.
Wait, I thought this was a “Miracle?”
In the HMHA’s application to the Local Finance Board, the hospital claims it needs to refinance $12 million to pay for current expenses, among other things. This while $800k a year hospital Chief Executive Officer Harvey Holzberg claims the hospital is financially secure and has undergone a “miraculous recovery.”
Mason says, “The so-called miracle at the HUMC appears to be questionable given that the city council has never seen evidence of this miraculous recovery and that the hospital now apparently needs an infusion of cash.” She added, “The fact that the hospital needs to borrow money to pay its current expenses is a bad sign.”
“Like paying your rent with your Visa card”
The councilwoman said the refinancing will likely put taxpayers further in debt and closer to financial catastrophe. Others say the $12 million will likely be used to subsidize the money-losing hospital to help keep it open passed the 2009 Mayoral election. Critics have been saying Roberts and the HMHA have only succeeded in throwing money at the hospital to keep it open a little longer, noting the Mayor testified to the LFB back in 2006 that if the hospital failed the city would have the ability to up-zone the hospital for development that would make the property valuable enough to get back some of the city’s investment.
What will the word be from the LFB? Stay tuned to find out!
More secret shuffling going on at HUMC?
From a Hoboken411 reader:
“Below is a copy of the public notice that Hoboken City Hall published, noting that the HUMC is issuing bonds. Amazingly enough no mention of how much they’ll be floating, perhaps a couple of billion dollars so they can bail out Bear Sterns & save all the Hoboken Banker jobs that support our little economy? On a serious note, this is more than likely some type of shell game that the mayor is playing to move money back & forth between city hall & the hospital to try & balance his bloated budget. This is fuel for the fire that Councilwoman Mason is on the right track & that something is a rotten in Denmark.”
NOTICE OF ADOPTION OF A RESOLUTION OF THE HOBOKEN MUNICIPAL HOSPITAL AUTHORITY AUTHORIZING THE ISSUANCE OF BONDS, NOTES OR OTHER OBLIGATIONS OF THE AUTHORITY TO REFUND BONDS OF THE AUTHORITY AND FINANCE CERTAIN COSTS IN CONNECTION WITH THE OPERATION OF HOBOKEN UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER AND FURTHER AUTHORIZING THE EXECUTION OF A SUPPLEMENTAL INDENTURE TO SECURE SAME
NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that a resolution entitled “RESOLUTION OF THE HOBOKEN MUNICIPAL HOSPITAL AUTHORITY AUTHORIZING THE ISSUANCE OF BONDS, NOTES OR OTHER OBLlGATIONS OF THE AUTHORITY TO REFUND BONDS OF THE AUTHORITY AND FINANCE CERTAIN COSTS IN CONNECTION WITH THE OPERATION OF HOBOKEN UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER AND FURTHER AUTHORIZING THE EXECUTION OF A SUPPLEMENTAL INDENTURE TO SECURE SAME” (the “Bond Resolution”) has been finally adopted by the Hoboken Municipal Hospital Authority (the “Authority”) on April 30, 2008. Notice is further given that a copy of said Bond Resolution has been filed for public inspection at the offices of the Authority at the Hoboken University Medical Center, 312 Clinton Street, Hoboken, New Jersey, and at the office of the City Clerk of the City of Hoboken at City Hall, 94 Washington Street, Hoboken, New Jersey, in accordance with N.J.S.A. 40:14B-28 (incorporated by reference by N.J.S.A. 30:9-23.21). Notice is hereby given that the twenty (20) day period of limitation has begun to run during which time actions or proceedings questioning the validity or proper authorization of the bonds, notes or other obligations provided for by said Bond Resolution, or the validity of any covenants, agreements or contracts provided for by said Bond Resolution, shall be commenced or instituted. After such twenty day period has run, all the residents and taxpayers and owners of property in the district of said Authority and users of the Authority’s facilities and all other persons whatsoever shall be forever barred and foreclosed from instituting or commencing any action or proceeding in any Court, or from pleading any defense to any action or proceedings, questioning the validity of the creation and establishment of the Authority, or the validity or proper authorization of such bonds, notes or other obligations, or the validity of any such covenants, agreements or contracts, and said Authority shall be conclusively deemed to have been validly created and established and to be authorized to transact business and exercise powers as a municipal authority under the Municipal Hospital Authority Law, and said bonds, notes or other obligations, covenants, agreements and contracts shall be conclusively deemed to be valid and binding obligations in accordance with their terms and tenor.
Published by Order of
George W. Crimmins