Hospital taxes are going up as the regional hospital district tries to minimize the amount it will have to borrow in order to build two new hospitals.
The Comox-Strathcona Regional Hospital District (CSRHD) has adopted a budget of $21.4 million for 2011.
The budget will see an estimated tax rate of $71.76 per $100,000 of assessed property value, which is an increase of $1.41 per $100,000 from last year.
The increase reflects the board’s four-year strategy to gradually increase the tax rate over the short term in order to minimize the debt the regional hospital district will incur from the North Island hospitals project.
The regional hospital district must come up with 40 per cent of the cost to build the two hospitals and will have to borrow funds through the province in order to do that.
“The CSRHD’s share of the projected capital cost of two new hospital facilities – based on a cost estimate of $500 to $600 million, is approximately $240 million,” said Mayor Charlie Cornfield and regional hospital district chair. “The gradual tax rate increase from 70 to 84 cents per $1,000 of taxable value from 2010 through 2014 would bring our major capital project reserve balance up to approximately $70 million. This ‘down payment’ would substantially reduce our borrowing requirements and debt payments.”
The Vancouver Island Health Authority is proposing to build a new 90 to 95-bed hospital, on the existing Campbell River hospital site, which could be operating as soon as 2015.
In addition to the budget containing $10.5 million toward the new hospitals, the regional hospital district has also allocated $1.6 million for new capital projects in the existing hospitals in the Comox Valley and Campbell River and in the other facilities supported by the regional hospital district. Approximately $3.6 million is being carried forward for previous years’ projects not yet completed, such as the purchase of a multi-purpose fluoroscopy unit for the Campbell River and District General Hospital and a general X-ray machine for St. Joseph’s General Hospital.
The Comox-Strathcona Regional Hospital District provides capital funding, cost shared with the provincial government on a 60/40 per cent basis, with the hospital district’s portion being 40 per cent.
The facilities that the regional hospital district funds are: Campbell River & District General Hospital, St. Joseph’s Hospital, Cumberland Regional Hospital Laundry Society, Gold River Health Clinic and the health centres on Cortes and in Kyuquot, Tahsis and Zeballos.