Three Rivers Hospital is seeking a one-year excess property tax levy to help fund maintenance and operations.
The proposition, which appears on the April 28, 2020 special election ballot, asks voters to decide whether to approve a one-time total of approximately $750,000. The rate per $1,000 of assessed property value would be about 33 cents, to be collected in 2021.
If approved, the funds would cover some of the hospital’s operational costs, particularly the emergency room.
“One thing our communities have always agreed on is the importance of having an ER, but the reimbursement rate is lower than the cost of services,” said CEO Scott Graham. “We typically rely on revenue from our other services to help bridge that gap between the cost of providing emergency care and what we receive.”
The hospital’s Board of Commissioners approved the levy resolution during its regular meeting on February 26. Ballots were mailed to voters in early April.
Hospital district voters approved a lid lift on an existing tax levy in 2016, raising the rate from 63 cents per $1,000 of assessed value to about 75 cents per $1,000. The current tax rate is $0.739 per $1,000. With the extra funds from the lid lift, the hospital was able to invest in some significant changes:
- Replacing the patient beds and furniture;
- Moving the Three Rivers Family Medicine clinic next door into the former Hillcrest House assisted living facility; and
- Moving the emergency department to the newest section of the hospital, which improved patient care workflows and allowed for the addition of a negative pressure isolation room.
A second measure on the 2016 ballot for a capital improvement levy did not receive enough votes to pass the 60 percent supermajority requirement. That levy would have helped fund a partial roof replacement project.
Property taxes paid to the hospital currently comprise about 5 percent of its total annual income. Ballots must be postmarked by 5 p.m. Tuesday, April 28, or delivered to a ballot drop box. There are three within the hospital district; one each in Bridgeport, Pateros, and Twisp.