When a new hospital is built to replace the aging Purcell Municipal Hospital, it will be on a 13-acre tract in the north part of the city.

Months of searching and negotiating came down to a 25-minute executive session Tuesday evening between the Purcell City Council and Kem Scully, chief executive officer of the hospital.

When the council reconvened in open session, members voted unanimously to approve a letter of intent to purchase the land pending a final contract.

Officials declined to make the location public until a contract is signed with the landowner.

Faced with extensive and costly repairs to the existing hospital, the council and hospital board agreed in June 2018 the best option was to construct a new, leaner, state-of-the-art health care facility.

“This falls in line with the budget costs planned for the project,” Purcell City Manager Dale Bunn told The Purcell Register.

Architectural and engineering estimates to bring the ailing hospital up to code were estimated at $11 to $12 million.

City voters signed on to the plan on Aug. 28, 2018, when they overwhelmingly approved a 20-year extension to a penny sales tax earmarked for the hospital. The vote was 905 in favor to 237 against.

Officials noted at the time the average daily census at the hospital was four patients, leaving more than 87 percent of the hospital’s 32 beds unused.

Estimates are an eight-bed hospital can be built for around $15 million.

In other business at the Tuesday meeting the lone bid to up fit two Tahoe 4x4 vehicles for the police department gave council members pause when police chief Kevin Williams affirmed there wasn’t enough money in the department’s budget to cover the $52,820 cost.

Williams told council members $100,000 was budgeted to purchase and equip the two vehicles. But once the Tahoes were paid for, only about $13,000 was left to up fit them.

The lone bid from  Metro Emergency Upfitters LLC far exceeded the available funds.

Bunn told the council that he and finance director Victor Lohn “will have to find the money.”

Bunn continued, saying it might be possible to delay refurbishing the storage tank on Red Hill and the council approved the bid with the provision that the funds to pay for it be taken from that project.

The city manager also praised police and animal control staff for handling the seizure of 32 malnourished dogs from a Purcell residence. He singled out shelter manager Louise Zastrow, animal control officer David Claunch, Mitchell Taggert and Lt. James Bolling.

Area residents donated $2,700 for the care of the dogs. That money was given to the Purcell Animal Welfare Society.

Claunch said the city has purchased medication and food for the dogs and is using a $500 donation to pay to spay and neuter the dogs at Walnut Creek Animal Hospital.

The dogs’ owner was hospitalized and has relinquished ownership of the dogs to the city.

When they are healthy, they will be available for adoption. Any not adopted will be taken in by rescues in Wisconsin.

Zastrow said the shelter is above capacity presently with 63 dogs.

In other business, the council heard updates on dilapidated houses at 120 N. 6th Ave., and 304 W. Delaware St., and approved budget amendments totaling $56,057.32 to assist low-income city workers with insurance premiums, $6,249.93 for inspections at the Holiday Inn Express and $31,800 for the new apron at the airport.

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