A local businessman continued his quest for transparency from the Graham Regional Medical Center Hospital Taxing District July 24 when he produced for the district’s board of directors a plan to get out of debt.

But hospital administrators say it’s not that simple.

“I submitted that suggestion because I think the hospital is in the business of running a hospital not being a landlord to renters, and not being a banker for people to borrow money from,” Kent Pettus, Trustee for Davidson Motor Company, said. “It would raise cash. Some of this debt is still tied up into some of their purchases of real estate that’s non-hospital. So, it seemed like a good way to move property on the tax rolls and generate more taxes and to eliminate debt by the hospital.”

Pettus ran for but was not elected to the hospital district’s board of directors in May, and has used time set aside for public input at each board meeting since to address his concerns with the board’s oversight and operation of GRMC.

Pettus’ plan lists the values of five GRMC-held real estate assets. By liquidating those assets, Pettus asserts that the hospital could generate $3.5 to $4 million in cash. Pettus explained that he was able to estimate the values for each of the properties from information provided by the Young County Appraisal District, as well as insider business knowledge of the market in Graham.

“I would hope that they put the suggested real estate up for sale,” Pettus said.

According to Young County Appraisal District data, the value of the properties listed totals $2.36 million.

Read the entire story in this weekend's Graham Leader.