Our View: Investing in health and education
Nearly three out of four voters supported the Tahoe Forest Hospital’s ambitious $98.5 million bond measure in a mail-in election that ended Tuesday.
Even with several hundred ballots remaining to be tallied, it’s clear that area residents have passed Measure C.
Now, administrators of the public hospital district will chart a course to retrofit existing buildings to meet state earthquake safety standards and improve the community hospital’s services.
The vote was a ringing endorsement of the need for quality emergency and long-term medical care in a region that is relatively isolated and subject to unpredictable mountain weather.
In supporting a measure that will tax property owners $9 a year for every $100,000 of assessed value, residents brushed aside concerns over the hospital’s past spending practices, as well as the claims of critics that the hospital should pay for improvements out of its operating budget.
In a broader sense, though, the hospital’s victory is another example of Tahoe-Truckee residents willing to tax themselves to maintain the area’s extraordinary quality of life.
Previously, voters in the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District backed Measure A, which assures local schools a revenue stream impervious to the uncertainties of enrollment-based state funding. Then there is Measure H, approved by voters to fund the soon-to-be Sierra College campus in Truckee.
Perhaps the willingness of local voters to endorse the tax measures reflects the reality that, as bond proponents helpfully pointed out, a portion of the tax obligation will be paid by second homeowners who live ” and vote ” elsewhere.
Certainly, the hospital district waged what could be called a shrewd campaign. And it had to, as a two-thirds majority is a high bar to clear.
For months preceding the actual vote, the hospital foundation aired television ads that publicized the need to renovate the hospital’s aging facilities. Video footage portrayed an overcrowded hospital, where some patients were forced to wait in the halls for help.
By the time the election period began in late August, Measure C proponents had plumbed the opinions of district voters and lined up supporters to endorse the measure.
If you’re a renter, an affirmative vote was a no-brainer. Unless, of course, one is worried about landlords passing along the cost to renters, which will probably occur. As some Measure C opponents pointed out, that small increase is just another upward tick in the area’s escalating cost of living that continues to push out working folk.
At the same time, however, our infrastructure doesn’t remain in a suspended state ” including hospital facilities.
In the end, voters in Tahoe-Truckee decided benefits will outweigh costs and proved willing again to invest in their region’s most important assets. This time it is the community’s health.
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