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March 1, 2000     The Arlington Times
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March 1, 2000
 

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March 1, 2000 The Arlington Times o:* A5 Cascade Valley Hospital's survival plan an addi- a year in taxes, Used to pay back hospital's cur- bonds. will be refi- to raise $1.5 that will help the operations Is get the In'big money rather the Public hospital extends roughly L and Silvana to Dar- 24-cents / value since the in 1964. The WOUld increase that cents. ~ the balance sheet, L s Cash reserve ~illion in 1999, reimburse- companies, of unexpected revenues from PUrchased over !ars. The clinics In an effort to cre- health care Provide general care for community and by increasing the North Sno- Care Sys- as profitable se of the ents. the hospital system, saving about $1.2 also increased e aPloyees. st fall, a combina- insurance higher- costs and clinics put the a downward spi- notified crunch in Decern- time, adrnin- Hospi- organi- in providing crisis entering Arlington e, organizations company cOntracts since tSSions devel- said Bob Camp- ~quiry, Provi- Interest and a draft of the commis- atcry at the Providence hos- decided VOiced at commission_ forward on Camp- to explore being and man- Is now focus- and refinanc. cornrnis. the ,letter ballot pro- applause day Ice made up nurses and sh to keep on .eventually by reducing grevenue. be cut, are being Refinance existing Limited Tax General Obligation bonds Ask voters to approve an M&O levy on May 16 Consider selling surplus property, and hold proceeds in reserve for emergency Monitor the 2000 budget to make sure proceeding at a break-even rate as expected. Included in that is the rene- gotiations to improve the insurance company contracts, putting doctors on new contracts that reflect fees based on how much they bring in and hiring new doctors to replace those who have left. If the levy fails, resume talks with Providence Hospital or other health care group or close the hospital. changed to tie pay to revenue gen- eration. All of the physicians have not yet approved that plan and at least three doctors already have announced they are leaving. The hospital is hoping to replace those doctors as soon as possible, which is necessary to increase revenues. Other revenue increases will come from negotiat- ing better contracts with insurance companies and Medicare. The 2000 budget is the pro- posed "break-even" budget, said Campbell, and if all goes well, the hospital could make money in 2001. The North Snohomish County Health System has had some good news. In January, for the first time in several months, the health sys- tem reported a $140,000 profit, though the clinics continued to lose $77,000 while the hospital and surgery center made about $220,000. The books are showing similar numbers for February. The boost is due in part to an overall rate increase approved by the commission in December and to some increases in insurance reimbursement contracts, Camp- bell said. Despite what some see as posi- tive strides, hospital administra- tors are considering worst-case scenarios. The worst, all agree, is that the hospital would have to close its doors, which requires, in the words of Chief Financial Officer Clark Jones, "a business cessation plan." "If we face closure in our situa- tion, with the account receivables we have to collect and the liabili- ties to be paid out, we are $700,000 away from becoming insolven.t. If we ]turn over the operation of the facility to Provi- dence or another company] we are further away. Our unemployment expenses would be dramatically reduced. In that case [closure], we're about $2 million away. The message I'm trying to make is we are close.to making some firm decisions." If the M&O levy passes, Clark said he believes the hospital dis- trJct's best plan is to sell limited general obligation bonds that would be guaranteed by the rev- enues from the levy. That would allow the hospital to gain enough ready cash to continue operating in the short-term while further long-term financial problems are fixed. The hospital's current bond debt is being repaid by revenues from the current M&O levy. By refi- nancing that debt and asking to sell an additional $1.5 million in bonds, the hospital could get the cash it needs. The drawback, though, is refi- nancing the bonds would stretch the current debt an additional nine years, from 2008 to 2017. "Although I believe it's the best solution, I recognize the hesitancy of the commission to obligate Itax- payers into the future], especially if the hospital were to fail," Clark said. Hospital administrators sug- gested the commission might want to consider selling off part of the 12 acres the hospital owns east of Stillaguamish Avenue, known as the Langdon property, and holding the money in reserve to pay off the bonds if the hospital eventually does have to close. The Langdon property is divid- ed into four parcels ranging from three-quarters of an acre to five acres. About 10 acres is usable. Property nearby sold in the past few years for about $82,000 an acre. Gene Bryson of Arlington's Win- dermere Realty, told the hospital board last week that he has received word from developers interested in building several pro- jects in the area. He said they were anticipating paying at least $I00,000 an acre and some had said they would pay up to $150,000 an acre. One of the pro- jects was for condominiums on at least five acres in the back portion of the property. Another project was for an assisted-living facility on about three acres with access from Stillaguamish Avenue. The developer of that facility would only be interested in that project, though, if the hospital remains in operation there. Bryson presented the informa- tion after being asked to take an informal look at the property to give the commissioners an idea of the possibilities. If the hospital commissioners decide to sell all or part of the property, a formal appraisal and public notification and hearing process would have to be completed. The proposal of an M&O levy seemed to meet with the approval of those in the audience last week. "It's a positive step," said one audience member. Others said it's a matter of pay now or pay later. The hospital district area encompasses nearly the same tax- REST, RELAXATION They're all yours in our beautiful lakeside setting. Indulge yourself in a pampering massage. Relax in our natural mineral hot spring pools. Sip a cappuccino at Miss Margaret's Espresso Bar. Then savor the live entertainment and Fraser Valley AND REJUVENATION. cuisine of the Copper Room. Midweek and weekend packages available. Only 1-1/2 hours from Vancouver and 3 hours from Seattle, the Harrison Hot Springs Resort is an all-time favorite throughout the Pacific Northwest. FOR RESERVATIONS, CALL 1.800-663-2266. J-larrison J' ot _ prings RESORT BRITISH COLUMBIA CANADA, VOM 1KO www.harrisonresort.com OPERATED BY: HOSTMARK HOSPITALITY GROUP payers as those who were asked to approve a 39-cent Emergency Med- ical Services levy last year. That approval allowed the city of Arlington to continue providing paramedic service after taking over the operation from the hospi- tal. Arlington Heights firefighter Ted Pfeiffer said if the hospital closes, voters in the hospital dis- trict would likely end up facing a levy increase anyway because the EMS service would reqmre more money. "The calculations of how much tax money was needed to operate the EMS was based on serwce in the past," he said. "If the hospital is no longer here, it will throw off those calculations. What is now an hour run for the paramedics will take two or two-and-a-half hours because patients will have to be transported to Skagit Valley or Everett." More manpower and equipment will be needed to cover the time when one paramedic uni! is out of service, he said. The commission is expected to officially approve a resolution on the levy proposal at the March 1 5 meeting. The paperwork l~USt be submitted to the Snohomish Coun- ty Auditor's office by the end of March for the May 16 election. For approval, the measure needs yes votes from a simple majority, rather than the 60 per- cent required on school bond and levy issues. The hospital levy also does not require a specific number of voters to turn out. A citizen group is expected to organize to handle the campaign details, but as of Monday no specifics were available. Hospital employees are not allowed to campaign for or against the proposal during working hours, but can get involved on their own time. The campaign issues are famil- iar to Campbell, who is co-chair of" lhe Arlington School District's pro- bond and levy group. GEO The Arlington Tknes Cindy Stutsman of Hills Maytag is one of many down- town Arlington merchants participating in tt e Guess promotion from March ] tt rough 17 Customers at participating business es are Jnvited to win prizes by guessing the number of items in specified containers located in the stores. The items include everything from doorknobs to tea bags and the containers offer some surprises, too, as seen at Hills Maytag. The rules are post- ed n participating stores. The winners will be announced in The Arlington Times. ! i We desperately need your support Tuesday, March 14. Vote yes on all 3 school measures. Your YES vote is crucial! m nmlntaln our current for "'Four Schools,'" We will lose our opportunity to buy 54 acres off Highway 9 to build a new high school without bo .rid funding. We will lose the science,.computer, ~ ~{| and music labs in our emmentary scnools without bond funaing. for sports, ntiusic, and porformlno arts. For information on the Arlington Schools levy and bonds call 360-435-1339 or visit our website at http://sites.netscape.net/arlingtonschools/ Now Hero than ever. Volbe YES on March 14. PAID FOR BY CITIZENS FOR ARLINGTON SCHOOLS PHOTO BY JAMES ARRABITO