Finance Committee split on higher hospital levy

In a split decision Aug. 8, Finance Committee members for the New River Medical Center voted to recommend the full hospital board consider a tax levy for 2013 that would more than double the amount which the district levied in 2012 (from $600,000 to $1.3 million).
Among the six committee members,  Linda Doerr and committee chair Bob Dawson – both of whom are on the hospital board – and Tom Campbell, who is not on the board, voted to recommend the higher levy for the three cities and four townships in the district. Board and committee members Brian Doyle and Ervin Danielowski voted against the measure. Brian Reilly, the second non-board member on the Finance Committee, listened in to last week’s meeting only via telephone and thus could not vote on the issue, Medical Center official Joni Pawelk explained.
A $1.3 million assessment in the district would not quite reach the amount that was levied to property owners just five years ago ($1.4 million) but the annual levy had been on a steady downward trend through 2011, when the levy was $800,000, and 2012. “We had hoped going forward that we would be able to reduce that levy by two hundred thousand dollars each year,” Pawelk said.
Proponents of a higher levy are projecting the district will need those funds in 2013 to meet a debt service requirement that the district have 125 percent of the principal and interest in its annual bond obligation.
The Finance Committee is scheduled for another meeting 7:30 a.m. Sept. 12 before the hospital board considers its levy at an evening meeting Sept. 13. A preliminary levy must be certified by Sept. 15.
The hospital district could decide to lower the prelim levy before finalizing one in December, but the approved levy for 2013 could not be raised past mid-September.

By Paul Rignell