Editorials ~ Sonoma Valley Sun


In support of Sonoma Valley Hospital

Posted on May 24, 2017 by Sonoma Valley Sun

This editorial in favor of extending the hospital parcel tax originally ran in February, but the argument, and our support, remain strong for the June 6 special election. 

Our local Sonoma Valley Hospital continues to need financial support from the public. This support comes in the form of a parcel tax, added to each year’s property tax bill. For the past five years, each parcel owner within the Hospital District boundary has been paying an annual parcel tax of $195, and this year the Hospital Board is asking the public to renew this funding. In March, ballot Measure “B” will increase payment to $250 per parcel annually for the next five years, and we support that request.

We don’t have to tell you that health care in America is complicated and challenging, and by the look of things, it will continue to be that way for a while. Hospital finance is particularly challenging, and hospitals like ours – independent and classified by Medicare as “rural” – are the most challenged of all. For example, a procedure conducted at Queen of the Valley Hospital in Napa receives a higher Medicare payment than the exact same procedure conducted at Sonoma Valley Hospital.

The increase in the parcel tax payment from $195 to $250 will generate an additional $850,000 yearly. Offering competitive pay, for example, means a 3 percent payroll increase for hospital employees equals about $750,000; accordingly, an $850,000 revenue increase seems paltry. One might ask why the increase is not larger, but the answer is that consultant research indicates an annual increase to $250 is what the public will support. It seems little to ask to insure our hospital continues to be able to serve the public.

The Hospital Bond measure that passed several years ago was directed to capital expenses only — construction, structural improvements and equipment — not operations. That bond money has all been spent as intended. The parcel tax, on the other hand, is used for operational purposes only, not capital expenses.

At present, the hospital is looking into selling the large, residentially-zoned parcel of land bordering on MacArthur Street it acquired several years ago. If the decision to sell the land is made, its sale will provide capital funds to the hospital, but not revenues to support operations.

The hospital has no endowment fund. Endowment funds are generally the result of gifts and bequests made upon the death of a donor. It would certainly seem prudent that efforts be made to create and sustain an endowment fund. Fund-raising for the hospital is conducted by its Hospital Foundation, and such funds have been very helpful in acquiring new equipment and supporting various programs, but donations are variable and subject to economic conditions. The parcel tax, on the other hand, is reliable, predictable and regular.

It would be best if local hospitals like ours did not have to overcome such unpredictable financial challenges, but that’s not the way it is. For those of us who have rushed to the emergency room with chest pain or severely congested lungs, having a local hospital is more than just a convenience, it can be a lifesaver.

For all the reasons above, and in hope that our community will continue to be served by our local hospital for many years to come, we support the renewal of the parcel tax, which as noted will appear on the ballot in March as Measure B. We ask for your support as well.

— Sun Editorial Board



9 thoughts on “In support of Sonoma Valley Hospital

  1. So, all the capitol expenditures have been made with the prior $195 property tax payment. Now they need, not only the original $195, but an increase to $250. This is to pay for operating expenses? Why do you need $3,800,000 just for operating expenses? Your dollar amount of an increase of $850,000 is just for employee raises. So what is the almost $3 million going to be used for??? You gotta stop these increases… make SVH come back with a more reasonable amount. Because your consultant sez that is the maximum the public will tolerate, is why $250 was chosen. Something very wrong here!

    If you are a renter, consider voting NO… will your landlord pay the
    additional $250 property tax or increase your rent? If you do not use
    Sonoma Valley Hospital, consider voting NO. Are you aware that the Emergency Room cannot, by law, turn anyone away because they cannot afford to pay for service… consider voting NO. According to Sonoma Valley Hospital, they had 10,000 patients in their emergency room last year, not enough to pay to keep it open… consider voting NO. (How many of them didn’t pay a dime?) Somehow SVH seems to be able to give the CEO generous annual increases in salary and benefits… consider voting NO. The Sonoma Chamber of Commerce, indicates that in 2014 there were 151,857 people living within 10 miles of Sonoma… not enough to support
    a hospital. People outside of 10 miles will likely visit other
    hospitals… consider voting NO. It you are a pedestrian struck by car, while crossing a road in Sonoma, you will be taken to Napa’s Queen of the Valley. not SVH; consider voting NO. If you are involved in a major car crash, you will be taken to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, not SVH, consider voting NO. The inability to generate enough income to stay open will only get worse over the next few years… consider voting NO.

  3. Lets get fair. Once again the people who do not own property are dumping the entire responsibility for financing the hospital on the few who have scrimped and saved for years in order to purchase a home of their own. Why should property owners continuously be stuck paying the bills for everyone else? The hospital should be paid for by EVERYONE not just the property owners! Unless you want to restrict it’s services to those property owners who are paying for it.

  4. @ johnjdp .. ” How many of them didn’t pay a dime? ” Well , understood . But what politician or director wants to stand and tell the public that if you can’t afford hospital care , you hit the street . And if you get worse , or die , tough luck ? Because that would be some kind of solution .But I don’t see how this will ever be solved .Eventually , emergency rooms go broke , and go away . Swell .

  5. Seems like this character johndip is really the only one against the parcel tax, but he makes enough noise for 50

    1. He obviously can’t afford $295 a year in parcel taxes, which is less than most tourists spend on wine & a room for a night. Which means he can’t afford to own property in Sonoma Valley. And if he doesn’t own property here, what’s he worried about?

  6. johndip is everywhere and he may have other aliases too. I do sincerely hope they are all just one person making lots of noise. I do think there really is more than one, but I am hoping all the noise is really being made by very few people. We will see after the vote on 6-6.

  7. I agree with Josette, it is likely Johndip is the same person as other hospital detractors. Aliases should be ignored anyway, as people who fail to disclose their identity, have no standing.

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