The Grays Harbor Public Hospital District could be much smaller than originally proposed when it comes to the August ballot.
At the final of 4 public hearings on Wednesday night, supporters and opposition of the boundaries of the proposed district spoke to the Grays Harbor County Commissioners. Community members and many Grays Harbor Community Hospital employees shared their views of which areas should be covered under a new district, and how it should be governed.
The primary focus of comments regarded whether or not to include Montesano and a portion of Central Park into the new district, or to leave it untaxed.
Dr. Stephanie Devaney presented paperwork at the meeting showing that, according to public records from the Washington State Department of Health, 179 patients were discharged between January and June of 2013 from Montesano, compared to 16 from Summit Pacific Medical Center. According to Devaney, Grays Harbor has a 140 patient capacity compared to 25 at Summit Pacific. For Elma residents, 48 were discharged from Summit Pacific, compared to 47 at Grays Harbor.
Other comments at the meeting alleged that areas who had spoken out about being excluded from the district either were “looking for a free lunch” or were from citizens who did not want to pay “taxes for something they do not use”.
While this meeting was intended to be the final public hearing on districting, following public comment, Grays Harbor County Commissioner Wes Cormier made a motion to exclude far more than just Montesano from the district. In his motion, he proposed taxing residents of Aberdeen, Hoquiam, and Cosmopolis solely, since they were the primary users of the facility.
According to David Quigg, the Director of Public Relations for Grays Harbor Community Hospital, said that no matter what the size the district becomes when residents vote in August, the taxes will not change. Despite the population included, the only taxes allowed to be introduced without a vote would be approximately $4.17 per $100,000 in property value monthly.
A decision on which areas of Grays Harbor would or would not be included into the proposed hospital district, and how many commissioners would serve on their board is scheduled to be determined at 9 am on Thursday morning.