TMH prepares to launch campaign | CraigDailyPress.com

TMH prepares to launch campaign

Hospital effort to market new facility tax increase to begin soon

Joshua Roberts







— Up against a tight schedule, The Memorial Hospital is wasting little time in launching its campaign to persuade the public to approve a tax increase during the November general election.

Samantha Johnston, TMH service excellence officer, said the hospital will form its campaign committee during a meeting Tuesday night. Expect marketing, forums and public meetings regarding the hospital’s proposal to begin soon thereafter, she said.

“It will be an educational campaign designed to help the public understand the price tag and what it actually means for them,” Johnston said.

On Wednesday, the hospital’s Board of Trustees accepted a master plan for a proposed new hospital, a long envisioned project that has seen little movement until this year.

The master plan proposes an 84,875-square-foot facility at an estimated $42.6 million price tag.

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The new hospital would give TMH about 9,000 square feet more than the current hospital, which has about 76,000 square feet.

The November tax question would ask voters to approve a 3-mill total tax package for TMH. The hospital currently receives .485 mills meaning voters would be deciding whether to increase TMH funding by 2.515 mills.

For the owner of a $145,579 home – the average value for a home within Craig city limits – an approved November question would increase taxes by $30.13 per year. For the owner of a $131,733 home – the average value for a home within Moffat County limits – the tax increase would be about $27.26 per year.

Commercial property valued at $100,000 would have a tax increase of about $75.40 per year.

The hospital’s decision to move forward with a tax question raises the stakes for voters this November.

The Moffat County School District is proposing its own tax question, asking the public to approve a $29.5 million bond issue that would pay for a new Craig Middle School, renovations to Craig Intermediate School and the district’s three elementary schools, and other repairs and upgrades throughout the district.

Both hospital and school officials said they are undeterred by the presence of the two questions on the same ballot. Officials from both entities reaffirmed the need for facility upgrades in two primary areas of community concern – education and health care.

“The reality of the situation is that Moffat County is experiencing growing pains and deteriorating community infrastructure,” Johnston said. “The need for a new hospital and new school facilities exists now.

“The only way that this community could avoid two tax issues in the same timeframe is if one organization waited 25 years. In the scheme of community needs, it just doesn’t make sense to put off today what will cost much more tomorrow.”

Joel Sheridan, assistant superintendent for the Moffat County School District, said he hopes voters will look at each tax proposal on its own merit instead of viewing the two questions as a combined package.

“It would be hard to say now is not the time for one or the other,” Sheridan said.

Hospital officials contend that an approved November question would translate into voters paying no more than $1.5 million per year for the extent of the hospital’s financing, about 25 years.

The new hospital would include, among other features, 25 acute beds, 15 medical/surgery rooms, a 10-room emergency department, four postpartum/gynecology rooms, three operating rooms, two labor/delivery rooms and expanded laboratory, diagnostic and imaging services.

At Wednesday’s meeting, the TMH board and representatives from its owner’s representative, American Health Facilities Development, billed the hospital proposal as a no frills, bare-essentials proposal designed to most improve services in clinical areas.