UPDATE: Erlanger sues Walker County for $9 million dollar debt - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

UPDATE: Erlanger sues Walker County for $9 million dollar debt

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WALKER COUNTY, GA (WRCB) -

UPDATE: Erlanger Hospital wants a federal judge to order Walker County to pay it's debt immediately. 

The ongoing dispute first started when the county borrowed money to keep a local hospital open. 

Documents show the county hasn't paid back a dime. 

A 13 page petition explains why Erlanger wants a federal judge to order Walker County to pay it's $8.7 million debt now. 

Walker County Commissioner Shannon Whitfield said he met with Erlanger CEO Kevin Spiegel three times since taking office last year and is working as quick as he can to pay the debt but needs more time. 

"My first opportunity to increase any tax or fee to settle this was not until late August of this year. Those bills went out Oct. 13th, they are due Dec. 20th. so I am moving at the fastest pace that I can," Whitfield said. 

In August Whitfield approved a fee that would generate $625,000 per quarter over 12 quarters. 

But Whitfield said Erlanger rejected his plan saying they want $1 million per quarter over nine quarters. 

It will be up to a federal judge to decide what happens. 

Whitfield said if the county is ordered to pay up now, it could force him to make cuts in police, fire and transit departments. 

Residents we talked to worry what that means for them. 

"Everything in your life is going to have to give a little bit just to come up with insurances, property taxes. You're going to have to cut everywhere," a Walker County resident who asked not to be identified said. 

Others say the debt should be paid, as promised. 

"It seems like they've been waiting on that money for a while. And whether or not it's been hidden, controversial or whatever it is, they're owed that money. We shouldn't have went around getting loan after loan everywhere else. We should have paid that or someone should have noticed it and called that out sooner," Joshua Wright said. 

We don't know when a federal judge will hear the petition or decide, but when we do we will let you know. 

There is a public meeting with Whitfield Thursday night at 6:30 pm at the Commissioner's Building in Lafayette. He can answer any questions you may have. 

“Erlanger stands by its pleading in the litigation against Walker County, which speaks for itself, and has no intention of trying this matter publicly,” says Pat Charles, spokeswoman for Erlanger.

Stay with WRCBtv.com for updates to this story.


ORIGINAL STORY: Erlanger has filed a lawsuit asking Walker County to pay the almost 9 million dollars it owes the hospital as soon as possible.

The county is already some $70 million dollars in debt overall. 

They do have a plan in place to pay down the debt owed to Erlanger over a three-year time span.

Erlanger helped to keep Hutcheson Medical Center open for a short time. 

Sole Walker County Commissioner Shannon Whitfield will hold a news conference later today, and Channel 3 will be there to bring you updates.
           

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