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Boca Community Hospital CEO denies layoff reports

By Brian Bandell

Jerry Fedele, the new CEO of Boca Raton Community Hospital, has denied reports from hospital employees that more than 100 layoffs are in the works. As the nonprofit hospital struggles to overcome massive losses and sagging admissions, some employees fear the worst. But Fedele points to a new cancer treatment center and his developing plan to turn the organization around as reasons for hope. Three knowledgeable employees at Boca Community said that department directors were told in early November that they must identify a specific number of employees and positions to cut. The directors were expected to tell hospital executives how many positions they felt comfortable eliminating, and there would be some back and forth.

The employees, who spoke on condition of anonymity to protect their jobs, said that between 125 and 178 positions could be cut at Boca Community within 18 months. They believed front-line nurses would be sparred, but other staff members, including in medical support areas, would be targeted for layoffs.

“I don’t know how they can maintain the level of service the community expects with fewer people here,” one of the hospital employees said. The hospital has about 2,000 employees. Fedele emphatically denied that department heads were told to identify positions to eliminate “There is not a plan today for layoffs. That is not accurate,” Fedele said. “We are not close to finalizing our staffing plan. Layoffs are a last resort.” READ MORE!

South Florida’s largest credit union hangs in the balance

By Brian Bandell

Credit unions have been ignored by most of the national media and government officials determined to help sagging banks, but one of the most troubled financial institutions in South Florida is its largest credit union.

After suffering an $18.2 million loss in the third quarter – its fourth consecutive quarter in the red – Eastern Financial Florida Credit Union’s capital strength has deteriorated to the point where regulators usually get involved. Its delinquent loans are rising and it has some questionable real estate lending strategies, but the nonprofit does not have access to the same sources of capital that banks do to provide a quick fix.

Eastern Financial, which is owned by its 203,671 members, must turn profitable to restore its capital. But, with no end in sight for South Florida’s real estate slump, that’s a big challenge. The credit union has been looking for a new CEO since February. Eastern Financial is a key banking competitor in South Florida, where it has 21 branches. It also has six offices in the Tampa Bay area and three in the Jacksonville area. Its $1.82 billion in deposits are more than the combined assets of South Florida’s next two largest credit unions, Tropical Financial and IBM Southeast Employees. It has $235.8 million in business loans, averaging $1.3 million each.

The federal government's National Credit Union Administration (NCUA), which operates similarly to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., considers the ratio of net worth to total assets the key measure of credit unions’ fiscal health. For Eastern Financial, that ratio fell from 7.48 percent on June 30 to 6.35 percent on Sept. 30.

Dropping below 7 percent causes an automatic downgrade by NCUA from well capitalized to adequately capitalized status. It also automatically triggered a prompt corrective action by the NCUA, which gives it more leverage to tell the credit union how to operate and mandate a plan for it to bring that capital ratio back up, a former NCUA regulator said.

Eastern Financial finished the third quarter about one-third of a percentage point above undercapitalized status, which would ramp up the pressure even higher.READ MORE!

Miami mayor targets job creation with federal Main Street Stimulus

By Oscar Pedro Musibay

Miami Mayor Manny Diaz, as president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, is asking Congress for a $150 billion Main Street Stimulus package targeting infrastructure-related jobs. About $90 billion would go to projects ranging from energy to housing to transportation, according to the group’s action plan. Tom Cochran, the Conference of Mayors’ executive director and CEO, said the majority of the money would go to cities and counties, so they would decide how the money is applied. The balance of the funds would go to the states.

The money would be apportioned as follows:

  • $10 billion for infrastructure from community development block grants
  • $5 billion in energy block grants for infrastructure and green jobs
  • $9 billion for transit equipment and infrastructure
  • $32 billion for highway construction
  • $1.5 billion for airport technology and infrastructure
  • $1.25 billion for airport infrastructure
  • 18.75 for water and wastewater infrastructure
  • $7.5 billion for school modernization
  • $2.5 billion for public housing modernization
  • $2.48 billion for public safety jobs and technology

An additional $60 billion would be dedicated to job training, loans to small businesses, extended unemployment benefits, food assistance and increased funding to the Federal Medical Assistance Percentage for Medicaid health costs. Most of the $60 billion would go to states, Cochran said. READ MORE!

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