Ballot Measure To Fund Sonoma County Hospital Faces Obstacles
Palm Drive Hospital in Sebastopol "faces some challenges" in winning voter approval of a ballot measure that would increase property taxes to fund hospital operations, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Measure W would increase an annual property tax from $60 per parcel -- approved by ballot in 2001 -- to as much as $155 per parcel to raise about $3.5 million annually for maintenance of the hospital and its emergency department, which handles about 10,000 patients a year. If approved, the parcel tax would be implemented immediately and reviewed annually by the Palm Drive Health Care District's board.
The Oakland-based Lew Edwards Group this week said it no longer would serve as paid consultants to the campaign to help make funds available for direct mail and other promotions. According to new campaign manager Judy Farrell, supporters of the measure have so far raised about $20,000, less than the campaign's $92,200 goal, the Chronicle reports.
Monte Rio Fire Chief Steve Baxman, who signed the ballot argument supporting the measure, said that county voters, who passed the 2001 measure with 83% of the vote, expected the existing tax to maintain the hospital. "I think the campaign is in trouble, and they are running into more opposition than they thought they would get," Baxman said, adding, "People were told this was a one-time deal in 2001, and now, four years later, the hospital wants to triple the price. It will be hard to swallow, but I'll do it because I appreciate the hospital."
The Sonoma County Taxpayers' Association has said it opposes the measure because it does not include sunset provisions to allow taxpayers to discontinue the tax if they become unsatisfied with hospital operations (Podger, San Francisco Chronicle, 9/18).