Directors of the North West Regional Hospital District, the regional governing authority which sets property tax rates for major health care projects, are correct in sticking to their position that regional taxpayers should pay no more than 20 per cent of the $362 million cost of a new Mills Memorial Hospital.
The traditional financing model would have regional taxpayers pay 40 per cent or $144.8 million – too much, say the directors.
In sticking to their 20 per cent position, the directors also rejected a plea from the Northern Health Authority to consider paying at least 30 per cent. To do otherwise might risk a cancellation of the project, said authority chair Charles Jago in a letter to the hospital district.
And so the stage is set for at least several years of back and forth negotiations between the hospital district and the provincial government.
Some hospital directors, in debating their 20 per cent position, worried about being ‘hard-nosed’.
Terrace city councillor Sean Bujtas, also a hospital district director, suggested that before the new Mills announcement was made, the northwest was in a begging position and now that the project is going ahead, the regional hospital district is in a cost negotiating position.
But Hazelton mayor Alice Maitland, also a hospital district director, put it best when she noted it’s the job of the hospital district to protect its taxpayers. And so it should.