GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

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April 3, 2011

Hospital sale could boost city's tax revenues

The ongoing negotiations about the future of Northeast Health System, including its Addison Gilbert and Beverly hospitals, could have a lucrative side effect for the communities where it does business.

But Gloucester Mayor Carolyn Kirk and leaders in Beverly and Danvers say that's not at the top of their priority list when it comes to their concerns for the hospitals' futures.

An acquisition by one of the two for-profit companies bidding to buy Northeast Health would put the organization's vast property holdings on the tax rolls for the first time and result in hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue for Gloucester, as well as for Beverly and Danvers.

In Gloucester, where Northeast operates Addison-Gilbert Hospital, the city could reap about $225,000 per year in taxes on the company's property, assessed at $18.2 million.

Yet Kirk said over the weekend she's neither expecting that, nor looking to it in terms of endorsing any such sale.

"I believe I speak for many in saying the order of priorities for the city in the outcome of NHS' merger or acquisition discussions is, first, the continuation of hospital and ER services, job retention, and then taxes," Kirk said.

The future of Addison Gilbert amid Northeast's partnering talks with four other health care companies has drawn special attention in Gloucester and Rockport.

The Gloucester City Council has gone on record backing a call to retain the state-mandated core services at Addison Gilbert that are required to provide emergency care; similarly, Rockport voters approved a similar resolution at Saturday's Rockport Annual Town Meeting.

For Northeast's property in Beverly, which is assessed at $42 million and where it operates Beverly Hospital, that city could reap about $800,000 per year in taxes under a sale to a for-profit firm, while Danvers would receive more than $530,000 per year for Beverly Hospital at Danvers.

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