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Porter County wants ideas for hospital sale profits

Updated: April 1, 2014 4:49PM



VALPARAISO — The Porter County Council is seeking information from community foundations as it looks for a potential match to handle the proceeds from the sale of the former county hospital.

The deadline for submissions is noon on April 22. Council President Dan Whitten, D-At-large, expects that the council will go through the information at its meeting that evening.

The request seeks information such as administrative fees charged by the foundation, support and advisory services that would be offered and what experience the foundation has in handling municipal investments.

The county has about $159 million from the 2007 sale of the hospital. Any use of that money requires a unanimous vote by both the county council and the county commissioners. The two boards held a joint meeting March 12 for a presentation on investment options for the funds.

One of the choices is investing all or part of the proceeds with a community foundation. Other possibilities under that umbrella include the county forming its own foundation for investing the money or putting together a hybrid foundation with an existing foundation.

Regardless of the strategy, the money would serve as a permanent endowment, with interest going back to the county, officials said.

“We have all these different options. I don’t want there to be any more delay than there has to be” if the county decides to invest with a community foundation, Whitten said. “I want to get a feeling of what exactly an endowment can do for us and get the best bang for the buck for Porter County taxpayers.”

The county will have $117 million of the money available by the end of the year as it rolls back from other investments, County Treasurer Mike Bucko has said.

The goal of putting the money in an endowment is to reap greater returns to shore up the county budget, though Whitten has said any investment strategy undertaken this year likely would not reap any benefits until next year.

The county sold the old hospital to Tennessee-based Community Health Systems, which built a new hospital at Indiana 49 and U.S. 6 that opened in August 2012.

Porter, LaPorte and Lake counties all have community foundations, which use the interest from their endowments to support nonprofit organizations. Whitten expects that the request for information could pull in similar organizations from across the country.

“For me, if we go with an existing foundation instead of creating our own, I want the best proposal I can get,” he said. “If we decide to go this route, the horses are already on the track.”



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