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UHD board OKs bond financing

By Staff | May 11, 2009

Ken Queensland

All 13 members of the United Hospital District board have said they do not intend to raise taxes to pay for two projects estimated at $19 million.

However, Larry Anderson is the only one who voted against a proposal that lists a tax levy as a selling point to secure funding. On Tues-day, the board on a 9-1 vote approved using gross revenue bonds in the amount of $12.065 million to finance expansion of the hospital’s campus and construction of a new adolescent treatment center in Winnebago. UHD plans to allocate $10.75 million in cash.

Before a vote was taken, Anderson told fellow boardmembers, “My position hasn’t changed. Let’s leave it at that.”

In the past, Anderson has made it clear he doesn’t want taxpayers making up any revenue shortfalls.

“I just think it should be upfront and not allowed through the back door,” Anderson says regarding any possible tax levy.

UHD finance committee member Jeannette Eichhorn read from a prepared statement to explain their funding option recommendation.

“UHD is a hospital district, and as such, has the ability to augment net revenue through a tax levy for maintenance and operation as necessary. The financing vehicle chosen at this time does not alter that reality.”The gross revenue bond with associated pledge does nothing more than affirm the board’s ability to levy a tax at some time in the future if need be to ensure that a hospital remains in the community.

Boardmember Ken Queensland says no one on the board wants to raise taxes, but having a tax levy provision in the agreement enhances the chances of selling the bonds.

“By not putting it in there it would jeopardize our ability to get investors,” Queensland says.

Tom Mayfield of National HealthCare Capital has been hired by UHD to secure funding for the projects.

Mayfield says proposals for five previous projects have had tax levy language, but the board has never had to go to the taxpayers for funds.

“Going back to the pattern you used in the past is a very reasonable decision,” Mayfield told the board.

UHD administrator Jeff Lang says bids for site development at the hospital campus will be taken in June and work is expected to start near the end of the month.