Hospital not ready to ask for property tax increase |

Hospital not ready to ask for property tax increase

Eben Harrell

It will be another year before Aspen Valley Hospital asks you for more money, but this time it’s got nothing to do with tardy bills.Last night, the hospital board announced it will delay asking voters to renew a property tax until next year. The hospital’s mill levy tax, which is set to expire in 2006, raises around $3 million annually for AVH. Officials had planned to ask hospital district voters to renew the tax in November’s general election.While it represents a little more than 5 percent of total revenue, the tax has been crucial in supporting the hospital through a recent financial crisis. The tax also ensures AVH remains a public institution.”Let’s just say we are putting all our eggs in November 2005,” board President John Sarpa said.Sarpa said the board decided to delay the tax proposal primarily because new hospital CEO David Ressler does not start work until Sept. 1, less than a week before the deadline for announcing the proposed tax.”We needed to make sure we got good input from our new management on this,” Sarpa said.He also said the board decided to delay because of concern over a lack of public trust in the hospital. Due primarily to a failure to send bills to patients in a timely manner, the hospital has just recently emerged from a financial crisis that saw a loss of $7.4 million last year and the firing of 34 employees.”It’s essential [when proposing a tax] to be able to show the public not only what we’ve done, but to have a clearer picture of where we are going. That’s so important before we come to you, the taxpayer, to seek your support,” Sarpa said.Eben Harrell’s e-mail address is

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