To the Editor:
Dear Community -- First off, I would like to thank the hospital board for taking it to heart that a large part of this community did not wish to foot the entire bill for a new hospital. Next, I would like to thank the City Council for keeping their word and letting the closing of Russell Street go to a vote of all the people and not just a random few.
Now to the community. I, like everyone else, do not like seeing my taxes increase. Like most of you, I feel that I can do a better job of spending the money I earn than anyone else can. I may not spend it as fast as others, but I feel that it is better spent. One of the things I, like most of you, have learned is that the cheapest deal in the beginning can quite often become the most expensive deal in the end. That is what I believe the hospital will become if we do not support a tax increase and move to a new location. I believe that a large chunk of that cost is going to come in 50 years when once again we will be in conflict because the hospital will have outgrown its current location. I know that they say there is room to expand, but they only talk of expansion by a room here and a room there. They never mention all of the support that goes with that room. People mention the central location of the current site. Current growth projection put the current location off of central. Besides, this is Craig. It takes 10 minutes to get from the east side of town to the Ridgeview area and that is obeying all traffic laws.
Anyway, back to the tax increase. The proposed increase would be $10 on every $100,000 of value on your home equaling a maximum requested amount of $5 million. Now keep in mind the $5 million is the most the hospital board will ask for. They do not figure that they need that much because they have not had any of their properties appraised (or have not told us if they have) to know how much equity they have to use against a down. The tax request could be worded so that the money is used only to secure the loan and ends when that amount is met. We already know what a new hospital at a new location would cost, so there should be no fear of the board trying to inflate the price, which I do not believe they would try anyway.
The survey the hospital had done was asked of 400 people. It is true that in the survey a tax increase was not the percentage winner. Yet I was pleasantly surprised, considering that the amount of the tax was never mentioned before the survey, that it had the amount of support that it did. Indicating to me that if all the facts were put out and people given time to go over them a tax increase may be supported. Other interesting things were: 1.) A greater percentage of people who had no interest in the issue felt that the hospital should stay in its current location, and, 2.) A higher percentage of people in the survey said they voted in the last election than actually did.
In the end though I know that this issue will come down to the answer to a few questions. 1.) Can the hospital afford to build anything, period? 2.) In a vote of the people, as the City Council said they would let us do, will Russell Street be closed? 3.) Would the majority of us in a vote support a tax increase if we knew the exact amount needed?
I would like to thank everyone for hanging in with this issue. By making our wishes known to the end is how we get representative governing and what in the end works for our community.