MOUNT KISCO, N.Y. — Northern Westchester Hospital’s $36 million plan to build new operating rooms and modernize patient care units is poised to move forward with funding from the county’s Local Development Corp.
At a press conference held at the hospital Monday in a mock-up of one of the proposed operating rooms, Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino announced he had taken steps that will immediately give nonprofit organizations like the hospital access to tax-exempt bonds for capital projects, to be made available through the LDC.
Democrats on the Westchester County Board of Legislators rejected the LDC legislation last week because of a disagreement on the proposed scope and structure of the LDC board. Astorino said that in response, he contacted bond counsel, who advised that under state law no approvals by the Board of Legislators were needed to allow the LDC to issue bonds for the hospital.
Currently, under the LDC, which was created in January and has already approved funding for projects at the Rippowam Cisqua School, the county executive is the only person authorized to appoint the corporation’s directors, and the county board can vote on bonds only after they have LDC approval.
“This is big win for Westchester residents on several fronts,” Astorino said, adding that the decision will posit no financial risk to county taxpayers since the nonprofit itself is the only entity responsible for repaying the money.
By being able to access low-cost borrowing via LDC approval, he said, the hospital is expected to save more than $6 million over the life of the project. At the same time, he said, $24 million in construction contracts and $10.7 million in machinery and equipment purchases will create jobs and boost the local economy.
The six new operating rooms and 13 pre- and post-anesthesia care beds “will improve the hospital’s ability to save lives, and the construction of the new facility will produce jobs and support our local economy,” Astorino said.
Hatsy Vallar, president of the Northern Westchester Hospital Foundation, said the funding is absolutely necessary for these renovations, which will take 12 to 18 months to complete.
“This is a critical need for us. We are a surgical hospital, and having state-of-the-art operating rooms for our surgeons is of utmost priority,” she said.
While the nonprofit hospital’s revenues cover operating costs and generate an operating surplus, she said, there is not enough to invest in major capital projects like this.
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