- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 23, 2014

NATCHEZ, Miss. (AP) - Natchez Regional Medical Center is finalizing an asset-purchase agreement with an unnamed private company and the city has approved tax credits to help pay the bankrupt hospital’s debt.

The company has not been official identified. Details of the possible sale have not been released.

Hospital board attorney Walter Brown told aldermen Tuesday the tax credit is a “quick step forward” to completing the sale.

The Natchez Democrat reports (http://bit.ly/1hnO00u ) Brown told aldermen the sales price for the hospital that’s been discussed is not high enough to pay off all the creditors associated with the hospital.

“We’re asking them to prepay taxes to reach a number to do that,” Brown said. “If (the buyer) prepays, (the buyer) will get a credit. This helps the process go forward and enable us to hopefully sell this hospital to satisfy our creditors.

“The other provisions of this agreement do not involve the city, concern the city or obligate the city,” Brown said.

Since the facility is located inside the Natchez city limits, any such tax agreement needs the city’s blessing. A public hospital since its inception in the 1950s, Natchez Regional has never paid property taxes.

Once the hospital reaches an asset agreement with its buyer, Adams County supervisors will officially adopt or reject the offer. If the supervisors ratify the offer, the hospital will be placed on the market for bid.

If no one outbids the negotiated purchase agreement at sale, the hospital automatically goes to the buyer.

The hospital board of trustees announced in February its intention to declare bankruptcy.

The hospital released its 2013 audit Monday. The audit showed the hospital lost $7.6 million during the 2013 fiscal year.

The federal bankruptcy court overseeing the hospital’s Chapter 9 filing may decide Thursday at a hearing in Natchez if it needs to appoint a special patient advocate for the duration of the process.

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Information from: The Natchez Democrat, http://www.natchezdemocrat.com/