|Marion County, FL -
May 22, 2012|
Munroe Hospital Tax Referendum
Watch the video
Taxpayers in Marion County will have to decide whether they are willing to spend more for a short time to keep their hospital a public entity.
The people in charge of the hospital district are planning to put a bond issue on the November ballot.
But it wasn't a unanimous vote.
The Munroe Regional Medical Center serves a county the size of Rhode Island, but it's in financial trouble.
"Financially, without some additional revenue Munroe is not going to be a viable institution," Marion County Hospital District Trustee Member, Joseph Hanratty told TV20.
Monday evening the Marion County Hospital District Trustees voted to place a $65 million dollar referendum on the ballot.
Its a bond proposal that is actually lower than the $150 million previously considered.
The money would go towards three years of capital improvements, but it would would come from increasing property taxes, at about $50.00 for every $100,000 for up to six years, when homestead exemption applies. It will cost tax payers $100.00 in new ad valorum property taxes for every $100,000 of taxable property value.
"That is not an excessive amount to pay to ensure that when your sick and need this hospital it will be here," MCHD Trustee, Mike Jordan said. "And not only be here, but all the services you might need, i.e. pediatrics, obstetrics, that they will be available in our community."
But community activist, Chuck Pardee disagrees.
"$50 dollars a year is a lot of money to a lot of people," Pardee said. "What could you do with a fifty dollar bill right now?"
Munroe Regional is a tenant of the hospital district, making it public and not for profit.
Hanratty voted against the referendum that he says isn't solving the problem.
"I believe it's appropriate in a landlord tenant relationship to have the tenant pay the landlord-as opposed to the landlord pay the tenant," Hanratty said.
He proposes to lease the hospital to a private company.
Four companies are hoping to do so, paying up to $325 million for a 40 year lease and $150 million for infrastructure improvements.
But Jordan says that option includes too many unknowns.
"Am I willing to give up what we perceive to be an excellent hospital for something that's unknown, uncertain, may not be as good a hospital?" Jordan said.
TV20 did reach out to the trustees' chairman, Jon Kurtz, but he was unavailable for comment.