Option open | CraigDailyPress.com

Option open

Hospital board considering tax proposal for new facility

Joshua Roberts

— It’s possible local voters may have two tax initiatives – both proposed new construction measures – to consider during the November general election.

The Moffat County School District is eyeing the November ballot as the target date for a proposed bond issue, at a possible price tag of about $28 million. And, it appears the school district may not be alone.

The Memorial Hospital board is scheduled to meet at 4 p.m. Thursday to discuss sending a letter to the Moffat County Clerk and Recorder’s Office declaring its intention to propose a ballot question in November. The ballot question would propose that voters approve what is, as of now, an undetermined dollar figure for a new hospital.

TMH chief executive officer George Rohrich said the hospital board has not decided whether to move forward with a tax question. The Thursday meeting is merely a proactive measure.

“It’s kind of a precautionary step, and one that comes with some hand-wringing,” Rohrich said. “This is just keeping the option open.”

The hospital board, like the school district, is working off a July 27 deadline to declare to the Clerk and Recorder’s Office whether it intends to propose a ballot question.

The July 27 date, however, does not lock the hospital board into proposing a question. The board has until Sept. 7 to submit a finalized question.

“We can always cancel,” Rohrich said.

As Rohrich pointed out, if the board proposed a tax measure for the new hospital, it would be different than most new construction questions. The hospital wouldn’t be asking for the whole dollar amount needed for construction, instead a fraction of the total, he said.

“It would set us apart a bit,” the CEO said.

Through planning efforts to build a new facility, which would be located on 15 acres of ground west of Shadow Mountain Village, the hospital has learned its improving financial situation would allow it to borrow about $20 million for a new facility.

The hospital also has about $5 million on hand through its operating budget, foundation and donations for the proposed building.

Whether additional public money would be needed remains to be seen.

TMH, in cooperation with its owner’s representative, is in the process of developing a master plan for the new building, along with evaluating services and space requirements.

Without a finalized master plan, Rohrich said it is impossible to have a cost estimate and thus know whether TMH will have a funding shortfall.

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