October 8, 2014

County declines appropriation for Sakakawea Medical Center expansion

By Lee Coleman

Sakakawea Medical Center recently embarked on a capital campaign to raise funds for the proposed expansion of the center next spring. As part of the plans to garner $4.1 million in gifts and donations, the capital campaign committee considered $250,000 to be major gifts and presented the proposal to the City of Hazen and the Mercer County Board of Commissioners.
Hazen committed to the gift at a rate of $25,000 per year for 10 years. However, the county, in the midst of 2015 budget considerations, agreed to get back with the capital campaign committee.
At last week’s county commission meeting, the final preliminary budget was approved and the appropriation of a monetary gift to SMC was not included.
“We did our research and we were advised by people we contacted in the legal field that the county cannot donate money to hospitals,” said Commission Chairman Gary Murray. “By law, we can’t do it.”
In this case, the rules for cities are a little different in that cities can make donations or give gifts based on home rule. Counties, however, do not have this same option.
“We cannot do it,” said State’s Attorney Jessica Binder. “We did our initial research and we can’t put taxpayer money towards donations. There may be some options in other revenues but that is something I will have to explore.”


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