The feasibility study to analyze the current operating condition of Tri-Lakes Medical Center could be finished "as early as July."
That was the word this week from Mayor Bobby Baker who told the Board of Aldermen accountants from Ernst and Young have started their work though he doesn’t know if the team is on site yet.
Such a study is required by Mississippi law when a public entity is contemplating the sale or lease of its hospital.
Meanwhile, aldermen unanimously approved payment of a third bill from Burns Development Group of Ridgeland, Miss.
Headed by former Batesville resident J.C. Burns, the firm was hired by the city and the county to coordinate the hiring of the accounting firm and to make status reports and recommendations to aldermen and supervisors.
The latest Burns bill is for $9,840.54, bringing the total to date to $46,462.94, according to the billing documents.
Ernst and Young, Baker said, is to be paid $106,000, plus expenses for the Atlanta-based auditors.
Study-related expenses are being divided based on the percentage of hospital ownership – 60 percent county and 40 percent city.
Once the study is completed, the city and county will have the option of keeping the now financially-ailing hospital as is or selling or leasing it or entering into a joint venture, Baker said.
If the city and county opt to go the sale, lease or joint venture route, Baker said Burn’s firm will put packages together seeking purchase proposals from profit and non-profit hospital firms.
If that happens, Baker said the Burns firm will then make a recommendation to the city and county based upon the proposals received.
If the scenario plays out this way, Baker said the Burns’ recommendation could come in December or January.