County Fully Funds Hospital’s Request After Initially Keeping Grant Flat

County Fully Funds Hospital’s Request After Initially Keeping Grant Flat
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SNOW HILL – Elected officials opted to increase Worcester County’s grant to Atlantic General Hospital this week.

Despite last week’s 5-2 vote to flat fund Atlantic General, which would have provided the hospital with the same $100,000 grant it got last year, the Worcester County Commissioners on Tuesday revisited the issue. A motion to increase the hospital grant to $200,000 passed 4-3.

During a budget work session last week, Commissioner Chip Bertino made a motion to flat fund the hospital with a $100,000 grant. Commissioner Bud Church advocated for AGH, however, and said it would be a mistake not to grant the hospital’s $200,000 grant request.

“They’re one of the largest assets we have in the county,” he told his peers last week.

Nevertheless, Bertino’s motion passed 5-2, with Church and Commissioner Diana Purnell opposed as they wanted the hospital’s request of $200,000 fully funded.

At the close of this Tuesday’s meeting, Commissioner Joe Mitrecic said he wanted to revisit the Atlantic General funding decision. He said that while he’d spoken in favor of the hospital last week, pointing out that it was the county’s second largest employer, he’d not voted to grant its request for $200,000 in funding.

“There was so much going on, the motion was to fund it flat,” he said. “I personally didn’t support that. I pointed out that they’re our second largest employer in the county and I thought with the new director coming on that possibly we should fund them at the requested level.”

He voted in support of the motion to flat fund, however, and said that’s why he was asking that the grant amount be revisited.

“I voted to keep it flat,” he said. “Honestly it was a mistake on my part. I spoke for funding the $200,000. It was a mistake on my part.”

Commissioner Josh Nordstrom subsequently made a motion to include a $200,000 grant for the hospital in the fiscal year 2023 budget. It passed 4-3, with Commissioners Jim Bunting, Chip Bertino and Ted Elder opposed.

In recent years, hospital funding has been a source of contention among the commissioners. Last year, the county provided AGH with $100,000 but only after an initial motion to eliminate the grant entirely failed with a split 3-3 vote without Church present initially. In 2020, approval of the entire budget hinged on the hospital grant. That year, the grant was eliminated during budget development. When the budget came up for adoption in June 2020, however, the vote to approve it failed with a 3-4 vote. Church, who’d voted in opposition, made it clear that he’d only be voting in support if a grant for AGH was included.

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

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Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.