In less than a week, you may be receiving a ballot in the mail for continuing a tax for the Page Hospital District. Ballots were mailed out today from Coconino County to qualified electors within the hospital's district. The proposition will be voted on through a mail-in ballot election only.
This tax has been in effect since 1984 when voters initially approved the hospital district.
If approved, the ballot question, known as Proposition 431, would maintain a 1.17% property tax that is used for upgrades and medical services at the Banner Page Hospital, according to hospital CEO Susan Eubanks.
Property owners pay more in property tax to the county than to the Page Hospital District. For example, according to the Coconino County Assessor’s office, if your property is valued at $100,000, you would continue to pay $117 per year to the hospital district.
As of right now, the City of Page does not have a property tax, and the bulk of the property taxes paid are from taxes implemented by Coconino County. All taxes paid for property, besides the Page Hospital District tax are paid directly to Coconino County, and dispersed throughout the county. The tax monies received for the Page Hospital
District are paid to the hospital board from Coconino County.
“This is not an increase in your property taxes. This is to maintain the same amount
property owners have been paying since the district was created in 1984” stated Eubanks.
“The state changed the laws, and now taxes such as this are required to go before the voters every five years.”
If this passes, you will see this on the ballot again in 2024.
If it doesn’t pass, according to Eubanks, the hospital will be asking for the voters to approve this again next year.
WHO CONTROLS THE MONEY AND HOW DOES IT ALL WORK?
The hospital was given to the City of Page by the Bureau of Reclamation after the dam was complete. Once in possession of the hospital, they (the City) sought a way to improve its condition and discovered that this was possible through creating a special tax district (what became the Page Hospital District), whose creation and tax was approved and by the voters.
Rather than run and oversee the operations of the hospital, the City gifted the hospital to the hospital board after the hospital district had been created. The board oversees the maintenance and capital purchases for both the hospital and other buildings within the hospital campus, including the clinic, while Banner oversees the operations of the hospital.
A quick and easy way to understand these workings:
The board oversees the monies collected from the property taxes for the hospital district;
The department directors and CEO approach the board for capital purchases and improvements necessary to maintain, improve, and expand operations and services; and
Banner receives a percentage from the profits received from the services rendered (not from the taxes collected) throughout the year to continue operations management and oversight.
According to Eubanks, the Board is very careful how the money collected from the tax is spent. For example, in order to obtain a new piece of equipment, the board requires a minimum of three different bids, the Director of the specific department making the request to provide adequate justification for the need of the new equipment, and to answer questions such as why one version of equipment is better than another version, or the current equipment. None of the monies collected from the tax are used to pay Banner; it all stays here.
Current board members are:
Judy Edwards – term expires: 2020
Catherine Foley – term expires: 2020
George Watson – term expires: 2022
David Mallavia – term expires: 2022
Tony Ferrando – term expires: 2022
WHERE DOES THE MONEY GO?
“The funds we receive go toward improving services and equipment in all buildings owned by Page Hospital.” Eubanks stated.
On average, the district receives approximately $1.5 million per year from this tax, and this last year the funds were used to bring the hospital’s lab up to compliance.
“This helps us expand the services we can provide and bring our facilities up to date”, Eubanks stated. In previous years, the hospital has used these funds to “rebuild the emergency department and the ICU, provide access to an intensivist for the ICU through telemedicine, and provide tele-neurology for symptom verification which has cut down on the number of patients that have to be sent out for an initial assessment.”
“If this passes, this next year we will be bringing our pharmacy up to compliance.” The cost of the upgrades to the pharmacy are approximately $1.3 million. Eubanks stated that in addition to the upgrades to the pharmacy, the Hospital Board requested that the resources and tools necessary to create chemotherapy treatments be included. Eubanks explained that this ability will eventually allow those in the community to be able to stay here for treatment rather than travelling for those treatments. Currently, the entire hospital is up for remodel and is in a holding pattern until the vote goes through, just in case the voters choose not to pass this proposition.
Other ways this tax helps not only the hospital but the community as a whole, includes the ability to provide housing for specialists. With the housing market as lean as it is, finding a place for specialists to stay has been nearly impossible. A few years ago, the Board authorized the purchase of a home in order to provide specialist services to the community.
The monies from this tax are also being considered to increase the abilities and services provided by the operating room.
WHERE THE MONEY DOES NOT GO
The money does not go outside of Page; 100% of the monies are paid to the hospital board by Coconino County, who collects the tax.
The money also does not go toward the cost of services. That amount is set by Banner Hospital and is based on multiple factors. For more information on the cost of services, click here.
WHAT A ‘YES’ VOTE MEANS
A ‘yes’ vote means nothing changes.
If the proposition passes, property owners would not see a change in their property taxes from this tax. The tax would continue to be the same amount that it has been since 1984, at 1.17%.
WHAT A ‘NO’ VOTE MEANS
A ‘no’ vote means to cancel out the tax paid to the hospital.
If this proposition is voted down, property owners would eventually see a slight decrease in their property taxes. According to most estimates, that would not be seen for around two years.
If the proposition is voted down, as the hospital is not owned by Banner, the maintenance of the building would gradually stop as the monies would be held for emergency equipment repairs and replacements.
According to Eubanks, the money the board currently has set aside for the hospital would sustain the hospital for some time, but emergency repairs to equipment could quickly deplete those funds. “It costs so much to run a hospital…one of the sterilizing pieces of equipment went down in the O.R. [operating room], and we have to have that, that was several hundred thousand dollars; nothing in a hospital is cheap.”
WHO CAN VOTE ON THIS PROPOSITION?
To vote on this proposition, you must:
Have been a registered voter as of October 7, 2019
Live within the hospital district which extends out to the Utah border, down to Cliff Dwellers, out to Kaibeto, and just outside of the Gap.
The map below outlines the hospital district’s borders and reach. Everything in green falls within the hospital district.
If you would like to see how much you are paying in property taxes, Coconino County has a parcel viewer that provides information for all properties within the county, including tax information. You can find that page here.
For more information on this tax, contact 928-645-0112.
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