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Council Right In Hesitating

Wheeling City Council members were right to postpone a decision on acquiring the Ohio Valley Medical Center property until they can get an answer to a critical question: If the city takes ownership, what’s next?

Medical Properties Trust, the Alabama firm that owns the property, has offered to deed it over to the city on what appear to be generous terms: Wheeling would pay closing costs, around $35,000, and would take responsibility for a few hundred thousand dollars in property taxes. That seems like a good deal.

But as we have pointed out, MPT is in the business of making money. If the OVMC property is so valuable, why is the company so eager to unload it?

Mayor Glenn Elliott and council members may be thinking the same thing. The agenda for Tuesday’s council meeting included a vote on whether to proceed with the acquisition. The matter was tabled.

Elliott explained that city officials want more information on “what the holding cost is going to be, going forward.” In other words, how much will it cost the city to own the property? Maintenance, utilities, insurance and other expenses are involved.

What are the prospects for selling all or part of the property? That, too is a critical question. Council should not act on the matter before getting satisfactory answers. Look before you leap remains good advice.

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