City Council OKs hospital annexation |

City Council OKs hospital annexation

Despite concerns about the resulting fiscal impacts, the Aspen City Council voted 4-1 Monday to annex the 26.6-acre Aspen Valley Hospital campus into the city.

The hospital was part of a “doughnut hole” of unincorporated land, surrounded by parcels that have already been annexed into the city.

Council members agreed AVH belongs in the city and ultimately granted its annexation, though City Manager Steve Barwick predicted the move would cost at least $80,000 to $100,000 a year in added services. Randy Middlebrook, hospital CEO, put the number at $30,000, while Paul Menter, city finance director, estimated the cost at about $186,000.

“Yes, there is a cost,” conceded John Sarpa, president of the AVH board of directors. “We think it’s fair to ask the city to absorb that.

“I would ask you to take a sense of ownership in the hospital’s future.”

The hospital is poised to proceed with a $10 million renovation and has future plans for a $30 million expansion, he noted. The projects should be reviewed by the City Council, rather than Pitkin County commissioners, since the campus will invariably wind up being annexed at some point, Sarpa argued.

The city’s urban land-use code is a better one under which to bring projects forward, he said.

The initial renovation will bring the hospital into compliance with national codes, so it keeps its accreditation, which is necessary for federal funding, Sarpa said.

“It’s absolutely critical that we get started,” he said.

As part of the annexation deal, the hospital has offered to increase its discount to city employees from 5 to 15 percent, contribute $100,000 toward improving its entrance off Castle Creek Road and partner with the city in a future detox facility.

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