Police Juror Walt Caldwell.JPG

The Ouachita Parish Police Jury recently gave its approval for the G.B. Cooley Hospital Service District to incur $1.5 million in bonded indebtedness to build two new health care facilities.

G.B. Cooley is a training facility that provides 24-hour care for individuals with mental disabilities. The hospital provides all basic needs for each individual, including speech therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, psychological services and vocational training services.

G.B. Cooley was created in 1962 as a component of the Police Jury, which appoints the seven members of the hospital district’s board of commissioners.

The Police Jury signed off on the bond issue during its Aug. 19 meeting. Police Juror Walt Caldwell cast the lone vote opposing the resolution to incur the debt.

“I had some questions about the bond issue, and they were not resolved,” Caldwell said.

Assistant District Attorney Jay Mitchell, who serves as the Police Jury’s legal counsel, noted the at G.B. Cooley’s Board of Commissioners previously approved the resolution to incur the debt on Aug. 8.

A hospital district official says the money would be used to build two 3,500-square foot buildings to provide long-term services in Ouachita Parish.

“We’re not sure where they will go yet,” said Benjamin “Ben” Pitts, G.B. Cooley’s hospital director. “We have some options.”

The two new buildings would allow G.B. Cooley to continue providing the same level of health care services.

“It’s in line with what we’ve done for 50 years,” Pitts said. “We’ll only use the funds we need. We may not need the full $1.5 million.”

A significant portion of G.B. Cooley’s revenues and financial support is derived from state agencies, though budget cuts to state and federal revenue sources have affected the hospital district’s financial health.

According to recent audit reports, for the two fiscal years ending in 2018 and 2017, G.B. Cooley’s operating fund realized a deficit of some $1.4 million before taking into account the some $1.5 million in property taxes collected for G.B. Cooley. But thanks to the property tax revenues, G.B. Cooley concluded the year with a surplus of some $225,000.

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