Auditor's office taking closer look at Drake Center sale

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - The state auditor's office is taking a closer look at the sale of the Drake Center to University Health.

Hamilton County Commissioners approved the $15 million sale in a 2-1 vote Wednesday to cover the shortfall caused by the stadium fund in the 2012 budget. On Thursday, members of the office of the state auditor retrieved documents related to the lease and sale of the hospital.

Hamilton County Auditor Dusty Rhodes recently valued the hospital at nearly three times the value of the $15 million sale price. He believed that the sale was a bad idea to begin with, telling FOX19, "I just don't think it's smart to get rid of an asset that valuable. You're looking at 107 acres adjoining an interstate, it just doesn't make any sense at all."

Commissioner Todd Portune, who voted for the sale, welcomed the involvement of the auditor's office. He says that "The more that people become aware of everything that is involved and all of the good that's going to be done and the liabilities to the county that it eliminates, they [will] realize what an extraordinarily good deal it is."

Portune also disagreed with Rhodes' assessment of the sale, saying the purchase didn't include about 55 acres of land that was in the audit. He added that the hospital was currently operating at a loss of about $4-6 million a year, and that the sale protected the county from the liability of that loss.

While the exact details of what the auditor's office is looking at is not yet known, Rhodes said, "I would think what they're doing is looking at documents of regarding how the county acquired the facility and what the terms of their operation is."

FOX19 also has calls in to commissioners Greg Hartmann and Chris Monzel, but they have not returned those calls.

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