County OKs bonds to expand hospital

SARANAC LAKE – Franklin County legislators have given their stamp of approval to $25.1 million in bonds the county Civic Development Corporation is issuing for Adirondack Health.

Legislators voted last week to grant tax-exempt status to the bonds, $15.5 million of which will finance a roughly 37,000-square-foot, two-level addition on the back of Adirondack Medical Center in Saranac Lake. The addition will house a new surgical suite with six operating rooms and three procedure rooms, relocation of an existing endoscopy suite, a replacement MRI suite, and a new sterile processing area. The money will also pay for the acquisition and installation of furniture, machinery and equipment for the new facility.

As part of the same package, the Civic Development Corporation is also refinancing $9.6 million in bonds it issued to Adirondack Health in 2012.

“Because it’s a tax-exempt bonding, the county has to approve it,” said county Manager Donna Kissane. “Taxpayer money is not used for this.”

The CDC approved issuing the bonds at a meeting Aug. 10, and legislators had no issues with the project or the financing plan, Kissane added.

“Everyone really acknowledged the need for (the new surgical wing) and was very supportive,” she said.

The hospital expansion may break ground in the fall, “pending the finalization of project details,” Adirondack Health spokesman Joe Riccio said. It is expected to take a year-and-a-half to two years to complete.

The Saranac Lake expansion is one of two major projects Adirondack Health is planning that will cost a combined $33 million. The other is a new medical fitness facility next to the Uihlein Living Center nursing home on Old Military Road in Lake Placid.

The Essex County Capital Resource Corporation, an arm of the Essex County Industrial Development Agency, is issuing bonds for that project, according to Franklin County IDA Director John Tubbs.

“The Franklin County CDC and the Essex County CRC were both established under state Not For Profit Corporation Law,” he said. “They are an ‘on behalf of’ issuer of bonds for the county within which they have jurisdiction. In addition to approval of their own boards, approval of a county legislature is required for the bonds to be tax exempt.”