As many of you know I have been very concerned and outspoken about the mill levy increase that Rangely District Hospital is proposing. First I have said many times I am not complaining about the medical staff as I feel I have received good service from them and feel that the hospital is necessary for our community. My concern is what I feel is a lack of financial responsibility shown by the administration and the Board of Directors. They claim all of the financial problems stem from Obamacare and decrease in assessed property valuations. I fully agree that is a large part of the problem but not all of it. They have refused to accept any responsibility for their spending habits. They say they have cut $2 million in spending over the last three or four years. I would just like to know how they got that fat to start with, which drained a lot of money from reserves.
They are asking for an 8 mill increase for operating capital which is about a 160% increase. This would mean that about 39% of our property taxes would go to fund Rangely District Hospital leaving the remaining 61% to fund all of the other special districts. This would include Rangely School District, CNCC, Town of Rangely, Rio Blanco County, recreation district, fire district, library, and several other smaller districts.
Currently a home owner with a home valued at $200,000 pays $302 property tax annually to the hospital. With the mill increase that would increase to $417. A commercial property valued at $200,000 currently pays $1,217 and would increase to $1,681 annually. I think it would be safe to think that the business owners would pass part of that cost on to consumers (you and me).
I want to share some of the things that the administration has spent money on which I feel has been unnecessary. I was told at a board meeting that they spent between $30,000 and $50,000 (couldn’t get a definite answer) on a consulting firm to tell them how they could improve the hospital. Supposedly the consulting firm told them they were doing everything right and couldn’t find any way to improve. As a former business owner if I spent that much money on a firm to help me improve and they couldn’t find one thing I could improve on I would feel like I got screwed. Another example is the so called rebranding that I don’t think has generated $1 of revenue for the hospital. This was also between $30,000 and $50,000 I was told. They have talked extensively about how the employees haven’t received a pay raise or cost of living increase the last few years. The board minutes for January 2019 reflect that they gave a 3% bonus to all employees which cost $300,000 of unbudgeted funds. I also found out they gave a similar bonus in 2017. (So much for honesty and transparency.) Also the CEO /Administrator and Chief Nursing Officer resigned (quit) but the board decided to give them each a severance package that will cost the taxpayers in excess of $100,000.
I have asked board members several times what kind of plan they have to streamline spending and have only been told that they are working on it. I truly believe if this mill increase passes nothing will change and in a few years they will be asking for another tax increase.
I am not trying to tell anyone how to vote on this issue but want taxpayers to be aware of some of the things that have been going on. Something that also concerns me is how many more issues similar to these have happened that we are unaware of.