Saturday, June 12, 2021
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Cookeville Regional Budget Raises Questions of Authority

Cookeville Regional’s budget presentation to the Cookeville City Council Wednesday turned into another discussion of how much the council controls the medical center.

Council Member Eric Walker said he feels a responsibility when he approves the city budget. When it comes to CRMC, Walker said he wondered if the council or the board of trustees had the authority.

“It’s a larger operation than the city of Cookeville budget for a council member to understand what they’re approving–it’s hard to do that in one page,” Walker said. “My question would be, ‘Are we approving this budget and putting our names behind it, or is this a presentation?'”

CEO Paul Korth said the budget comes as a recommendation from the Board of Trustees, appointed by the city council.

Council Member Laurin Wheaton, who sits on the CRMC Board of Trustees, said she was not equipped to educate the council on all the decisions the trustees considered in the budget.

“I do feel like now sitting on both sides, there is a lot more information as a city council member that I would want to know,” Wheaton said. “I’m not going to be able to give them the information that they need. This operation is too big.”

Korth said he would send as much info as they wanted.

Walker also asked if Cookeville Regional had a balance sheet that would show the hospital’s assets. Korth said the assets sits at around $350 million. While the city of Cookeville owns the assets, the city council gives the authority to the hospital board of trustees to run the hospital.

But Walker said he also did not appoint trustees members in his first year of service to the council.

Korth said from an operational standpoint, one thing the hospital looks at monthly is the cash on-hand and that currently CRMC is below the average hospital debt.

“We don’t have a lot of debt. We’re down on a debt to asset ratio of about 26-27 percent. Hospital standard is around 60 percent,” Korth said.

CRMC’s budget features some $321 million in expenses with $345 million in revenue, a projected operating income of $24.7 million in 2021-2022.

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