TRUCKEE, Calif. — Who knew when Measure C, the Hospital Bond , was voted upon, that the hospital board could unilaterally raise the rates we taxpayers are liable for. Not only raise them, but raise them from $21 per $100,000 assessed valuation to $30.67 per $100,000 assessed valuation, or some 66 percent. They cite a drop in assessed valuation due to the recession. Was there really a 66 percent drop in revenue? When the measure was voted upon in 2007, we were told that we would pay between $8 and $17 per $100,000.
Were we informed when they were trying to get us to vote for the measure that they could, at their discretion, raise the rate? I do not have any memory of that. I believe we were told that it would cost us in the range of $8 to $17. When the hospital board was considering the raise, did they advertise and publicize what was in the works that would significantly impact the homeowner?
Sure, one can search and find out when the board meetings are held and what the agenda will be. Beyond that, did the board make any effort to offer public meetings, present facts and figures and, in general, show a sensitivity to the community regarding what they were up to? Not in my awareness. It feels to me like the board was totally insensitive to the community which had wholeheartedly voted for Measure C.
To add insult to injury, the hospital CEO and members of the board, when interviewed, respond with platitudes and generalities such as, “We want to have great fire services ... and you need to have great hospitals,” as stated in the recent Sierra Sun article (9-5-12). Is that type of response supposed to have us just sigh and go away? Probably so.
This is also the type of response quoted in the comprehensive investigative report on hospital administrative salaries recently reported by Moonshine Ink. In my reading, this was a very well done investigative report with a neutral bias. Again, board members just blandly justified the high administrative salaries along with additional high salaries paid to administrator spouses. Not a bit of factual data was presented by board members, just statements along the lines of having to pay that much for good administrators.
The point is that I end up feeling like a steer being goaded down a long chute to my inevitable demise. I feel disrespected, minimized and dismissed. It is not so much the fact of the huge tax increase as it is the way it was done. Our community is bright, involved, very caring and willing to sacrifice for the greater good. Yet we get treated as if we were in a developing country.
I invite the hospital board and CEO to embark on a campaign to regain the trust of this wonderful community. To embark on a series of town meetings where actual facts and data are presented and alternative ideas are embraced. We do have a great hospital, albeit expensive. Repair work is required in order for the community to once again embrace it.
Beware when deciding to vote on upcoming bonds. Don’t just believe the hype and spin that the highly paid PR consultants throw out. The Recreation Board can, at their discretion, just as was the case with the hospital board, choose to raise the tax rate on Measure J, which will appear on our November ballot.
Rolf Godon is a Truckee resident.