OVMC owes Wheeling more than $415,000

WHEELING — Ohio Valley Medical Center, which announced Wednesday it will close in October, owes the city of Wheeling more than $415,000 in unpaid fire service and parking fees, Wheeling City Manager Robert Herron said.

The fees are to subsidize parking in the city’s Center Wheeling garage — a facility that almost exclusively services OVMC’s employees and visitors — and to pay for the hospital’s share of fire service, which is determined by square footage.

As of July 3, the hospital still had not made its annual $47,893 payment for fire service, and still owed $368,000 in parking fees, Herron said Friday.

Herron said city leaders had been in discussions with OVMC officials within the past 10 days about payment of those fees, but are not sure the path forward now that the hospital will close, as early as Oct. 7.

“We thought we had worked out a payment plan on both of these matters,” Herron said. “We’re going to explore all of our options. It would be premature to speculate.

“We’re very discouraged by the announcement of the closure and certainly feel for the employees who are going to lose their jobs as a result of this.”

The impending closure of OVMC will not just affect the roughly 900 people who work at the hospital, but will also impact Wheeling’s bottom line.

As a for-profit hospital, Alecto Healthcare Services, the parent company of OVMC and East Ohio Regional Hospital, also pays the city a business and occupation tax based upon gross receipts. Herron noted city and state codes preclude him from discussing Alecto’s status when it comes to the B&O tax. Herron did note that Alecto is current on its real estate taxes.

“I can’t answer anything on B&O,” Herron said.

When Alecto took over in 2017, the city instituted a .17-percent B&O tax for the hospital, under the new classification of “For-Profit Acute Healthcare Hospitals.” What that means is that for every $100 in business done at OVMC, it pays the city 17 cents.

When the city created the new B&O classification for Alecto, Vice Mayor Chad Thalman said the company “will pay more B&O than just about any other business in the city.”

Wheeling collected about $6.6 million in B&O taxes in the 2017-18 fiscal year — about 20 percent of the city’s total revenue.

If the hospital shuts down in the coming months, that revenue source would disappear.

Herron said the hospital’s closure would impact the city’s budget.

“Even when OVMC was a community-based hospital, they were a major employer and a major contributor to the city budget,” Herron said. “The economic impact of potentially losing that many jobs is hard to measure, but it would be significant.”

The city’s parking system also is a concern, as Herron noted the Center Wheeling garage is the city’s most profitable, and helps the parking system to contribute $240,000 annually to the city’s general fund budget. Alecto also pays about $47,000 annually in fire service fees, Herron said.

“OVMC closing would have a direct impact on our parking system, as well as our finances overall,” Herron said. “Losing parking from the hospital in the Center Wheeling garage would be a hit to our parking system budget.”

Daniel C. Dunmyer, president and CEO of OVMC, did not return a phone call seeking comment.