NASHVILLE, Tenn. - A Metro Councilman has called for an audit after a NewsChannel 5 investigation first raised questions about an assisted living facility in Bordeaux.
That facility, now called Autumn Hills, wants the city to approve more than $3 million in bonds to help them buy the place. But at today's meeting of Metro's Industrial Development Board, that was a tough sell.
Mike Hampton, the man who runs the Autumn Hills Assisted Living facility in Bordeaux came before the Metro Industrial Development Board asking the board to approve $3.1 million in private bonds to purchase the facility and the land around it from Metro. But it's not such a straightforward deal.
Our investigation found it involves a complicated web of at least five seemingly related corporations.
IDB member Richard Fulton exclaimed, "I need a map," trying to understand how they all fit together.
Board members were clearly confused by it all.
IDB member Chris Harmon asked Hampton about all of the companies involved in the development deal, "Why is it daisy chained like this?
And board members expressed concern about the deal.
IDB member Nigel Hodge offered, "I think everyone still has a lot of questions on this."
They also had concerns about the financial problems here that we uncovered. As we first reported, Autumn Hills has failed to pay property taxes, unemployment insurance. It's fallen so far behind on its NES and gas bills, the utilities have threatened to shut them off. We found lawsuits from vendors who say they were never paid. And bank accounts that were overdrawn.
In response, Hampton told the IDB, "My heart is heavy because instead of getting a pat on the back for doing a good job, it appears that we're getting raked through the coals for doing a good job."
And Hampton's business partner, Sam Latham, told the board that when Metro ran the facility, it was in far worse shape.
"It's really not that bad. Or not as bad as it seems," Latham said of Autumn Hills' financial woes, adding, "The hiccups he's experiencing is magnificent, that he's overcome those and stayed in business."
The board wasn't convinced.
Nigel Hodge suggested, "I don't see why we couldn't defer this and have further discussion."
And board members voted to hold off issuing the bonds until they can get a clearer picture of what exactly is going on with Autumn Hills' corporate structure and its money, something Hampton wasn't willing to share with us.
"Would you explain to us why there are so many bills that are unpaid?" we asked.
"I don't talk to the media?" Hampton replied.
"Why you haven't paid insurance on all of your employees?" we pressed.
"I don't talk to the media," he continued.
But Metro at-large councilman Jim Shulman says it's time to get to the bottom of this. Not only did he urge the Industrial Board to wait for answers but he also sent a request to Metro's Legal and Finance Department asking that city auditors launch a review.
Metro still owns the facility and has a contract with Autumn Hills to run the assisted living home. And Shulman says what happens here is still Metro's responsibility.
"We've leased it out for somebody to operate but we still own it," Shulman explained.
"And you feel you're still responsible for the care of these patients?" NewsChannel5 Investigates asked.
"Sure!" he answered emphatically.
Shulman is asking auditors to not only review Autumn Hills' books but also the contract it has with Metro and make sure the assisted living facility is in full compliance.
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