Island Hospital has scheduled two public meeting next month to explain a request for a major increase in the hospital's property tax levy.
The two public forums are set for July 18 and 25 at City Hall.
The Island Hospital Board of Commissioners voted unanimously last month to ask Public Hospital District No. 2 residents to approve a 31-cent increase in its annual Maintenance & Operations (M&O) property tax levy on the August 2017 ballot. That would mean a total of $50 per $100,000 of a home’s value in 2018.
“The hospital faces a growing backlog of needed technology and facility upgrades because costs are outpacing revenues from all sources,” said Commissioner Warren Tessler, who presented the motion. “This increase would generate an additional $1.7 million a year to help pay for capital projects that include an electronic medical-records (EMR) system, vital maintenance projects for older facilities and new diagnostic equipment.”
“Without an additional reliable and steady source of revenue, it will become difficult for the hospital to operate as it is, providing high-quality comprehensive healthcare services to its residents.”
A publicly owned hospital such as Island relies upon taxpayer support to help meet the healthcare needs of its residents. Hospital revenues provide 97 percent of the hospital’s annual $100 million budget; the remaining 3 percent comes from taxes. Even with a 31-cent increase, district residents likely will continue to pay the lowest property taxes in Skagit County. No tax dollars are used to pay employee salaries or benefits.
Voters have not been asked to increase the M&O levy in more than 30 years! The levy has remained the same since the last year (1987) that electronic records are available, when it was 21 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value. For the past several years, the levy rate has remained around 19 cents.
If the proposition is approved, property owners in 2018 would pay an estimated $29.28 more per $100,000 of property value annually.