Hospital considering tax renewal | AspenTimes.com

Hospital considering tax renewal

John Colson

The Aspen Valley Hospital board of directors is likely to decide in August whether voters should be asked to renew the hospital district’s property tax, which is due to expire at the end of 2005.Hospital CEO David Ressler said the board has been talking about the matter but has yet to make a formal decision about whether to ask voters to reauthorize the tax at its current level, or raise or lower the tax rate.Another option would be to simply let the tax expire at the end of the current five-year term.”Certainly, I think we’ve decided we’re going to go for a new mill levy request,” said hospital board Chairman John Sarpa on Thursday, although the decision will be up to the board as a whole. The remaining questions, he said, really deal with the amount of the tax and how long it should be in place.The property tax was first approved by the voters nearly a decade ago as a way to provide the hospital with a steady source of public financing, and then reauthorized by the voters five years ago. Ressler said the tax income of roughly $2.8 million per year is less than 5 percent of the hospital’s overall net revenue (about $43.8 million). Ressler said the tax revenues constitute “a fairly small amount” of the district’s income.Given the hospital’s recent financial difficulties, Ressler said he would not recommend to the board that the tax be allowed to lapse.”It takes years to recover your financial stability” after undergoing the kinds of losses AVH has sustained over the past three years, he said. “I would not want the board to make a decision where they would be regretting it. The future is still rather uncertain because we are still climbing out of that financial hole.”Ressler said Pitkin County must be informed in August if the hospital district’s intention is to put a tax question on the ballot, and the language for the ballot question must be certified by the board in September.”It will be on the agenda,” he said of the board’s next meeting, on Aug. 8, and added that he believes there’s a good chance the board will make its final decision at that meeting.If there is no decision at the Aug. 8 meeting, he said, it will likely have to be the subject of a special meeting later in August.John Colson’s e-mail address is jcolson@aspentimes.com