Dougherty Co. leader concerned over proposed Lee Co. hospital; L - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Dougherty Co. leader concerned over proposed Lee Co. hospital; Lee Co. responds

Dougherty County Commission Chairman Chris Cohilas said the commission has gotten initial information on the proposed Lee County Medical Center. (Source: WALB) Dougherty County Commission Chairman Chris Cohilas said the commission has gotten initial information on the proposed Lee County Medical Center. (Source: WALB)
Muggridge said Thursday that he believes Dougherty County has the right to ask questions about the proposed medical center. (Source: WALB) Muggridge said Thursday that he believes Dougherty County has the right to ask questions about the proposed medical center. (Source: WALB)
Cohilas said, if the Lee County hospital is built, their data shows it will have a negative impact on Dougherty County. (Source: WALB) Cohilas said, if the Lee County hospital is built, their data shows it will have a negative impact on Dougherty County. (Source: WALB)
(WALB) -

One Dougherty County leader said Thursday he believes a proposed hospital in Lee County could lead to increased taxes in Dougherty County.

Dougherty County Commission Chairman Chris Cohilas said the commission has gotten initial information on the proposed Lee County Medical Center.

Cohilas said, if the Lee County hospital is built, their data shows it will have a negative impact on Dougherty County.

According to Cohilas, that negative impact includes a possible property tax increase.

"We want there to be a successful and thriving Lee County, but Dougherty County also has to analyze on its own whether there will be a negative impact on our jobs, our taxes, our infrastructure, our healthcare facilities and our ability to provide services to our citizens," Cohilas said.

Lee County Commissioner Rick Muggridge said the Lee County Commission has reached out to the Dougherty County Commission, hoping to work with them on the proposed hospital.

Muggridge said Thursday that he believes Dougherty County has the right to ask all the questions it wants about the proposed 60-bed medical center.

According to Muggridge, the hospital would create 350 jobs for Lee County.

He said, despite some rural hospitals closing across the country, the Lee County hospital would thrive in Southwest Georgia.

"I think the success of any hospital, rural or urban, depends on three things: doctors, doctors, doctors," said Muggridge. "People go where their doctors practice. So, if we can recruit and solicit good doctors, I think we'll be very successful."

In response to the hospital possibly causing a boost in Dougherty County taxes, Muggridge said his county is considering impacts to its surrounding counties, but he believes there is enough healthcare to be provided in Southwest Georgia on a paid basis for all entities to exist and be viable.

"We don't feel like it's our responsibility to make sure that any other facility operates in a manner that is conducive to their remaining viable," said Muggridge.

However, Cohilas said if the Lee County hospital negatively impacts Phoebe in Dougherty County, taxpayers will suffer.

"No one likes paying property taxes. No one likes paying increased property taxes, so that's one of the main issues that we have to look at this," said Cohilas.

Right now, Georgia's Department of Community Health is deciding whether to give the okay for the hospital to be built.

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