The Prince George's County Council unanimously approved yesterday the creation of a community-based, nonprofit corporation to lease the county's three hospitals and nursing home.
The arrangement, approved with minimal debate, was developed after the council voted last fall to reject a lease to a profit-making corporation proposed by County Executive Lawrence J. Hogan. Council members said then that Hogan's lease failed to provide adequate protection for indigent care and the county's financial interests.
The new plan calls for creating a corporation headed by a 15-member board of directors made up of representatives of medical personnel, community groups, and each of the three hospitals, Prince George's General, Greater Laurel-Beltsville, and the Bowie Health Center. The corporation will own all the assets of the hospital system, but the county will pay for debt service and indigent care.
Hogan called the plan "a terrible, terrible bill; it'll be a calamity for the hospitals," but he said later he will sign the legislation as well as cooperate with the council in drafting a new lease. Hogan, who is running for the U.S. Senate, said the proposal entrusts a $60 million system to the care of "a new entity with no management know-how, no experience, and no money." But, he later added, "It ain't my problem."
Prince George's council members introduced two unexpected pieces of legislation yesterday.
The first, a so-called "Pac-man tax," would increase the tax on coin-operated video games from 2 to 10 percent in order to raise money for the county's beleaguered school system. Council member Floyd Wilson introduced a substitute proposal for a licensing fee of $100 per machine in place of the tax.
Council Chairman Gerard McDonough introduced the second unexpected bill, a measure to amend the TRIM county charter limitation on the amount of revenue the county can collect from the property tax. McDonough's measure would place a proposal called "Plus-4," which is supported by various PTAs, on the ballot in November.
The Montgomery County Council yesterday set about the difficult task of deciding how much to raise its members' salaries, and the salaries of other county elected officials, in an election year when fiscal austerity is expected to be a common theme.
The council members jointly introduced a bill that would allow salaries to increase automatically each year by a percentage that is half the rise in the consumer price index. Over four years, council salaries could increase to no more than $38,000; the county executive's salary would be capped at $71,000; the sheriff's salary at $42,000, and the state's attorney's salary at $68,000.
At present council members receive$32,727; the executive receives $62,938; the sheriff, $36,505, and the state's attorney, $59,790.