Health Care District sets levy rate of 65 cents

  • Fri Nov 16th, 2018 1:59pm
  • News

Just in time for its November deadline, the Orcas Island Health Care District has set a levy rate of 65 cents.

The OIHCD was formed in April after being approved by voters, and it consists of five elected commissioners. The goal of the district is to provide a dedicated funding source for local healthcare services, and it could have gathered property levy funds up to 75 cents per $1,000 assessed value — as Lopez did. However, the board chose to go with a lower rate.

“We wanted to keep it as low as we possibly could,” said Richard Fralick, board president. “We don’t want property owners to have more tax obligations than they need. We looked very carefully at it and had recommendations from people who said to go the full .75 cents, but we said no, we don’t want to do that.”

The rate will change every year as the district is required to submit a new budget and levy cost by Nov. 15.

“We could take the rate up or down,” Fralick said.

The funds will start being collected in April 2019, and the net revenue is expected to be $1,473,784. Additional revenue for the one-year budget is a $200,000 intergovernmental loan from San Juan County and a $255,000 bond from Washington Federal that can only be used for capital expenditures. It is earmarked for the Orcas Medical Clinic building’s new roof, HVAC system and exterior paint. The 2019 budget has a total income of $1,919,075 and expenses of $1,542,113.

The district bought the clinic building from the Orcas Medical Foundation, a nonprofit, on Nov. 1. The purchase price was $354,441. It was funded by a portion of the Washington Federal bond, which has a two-year draw window. Total funds available to draw are $800,000.

The board of commissioners determined that acquiring the medical center facility was a necessary step in ensuring the continuing availability of quality health care on Orcas. At the time of the purchase, the district also entered into a lease with the UW Neighborhood Clinics, which operates the clinic.

Both Orcas Family Health Center and UW Medicine Orcas Island Clinic will be receiving supplemental operational funding from the district. In 2019, UW will get $221,568 while OFHC is receiving $371,997. UW Medicine will receive more operational funding from the hospital district in 2020. Per its contract with UW, the medical foundation is meeting a portion of the supplemental funds needed to operate the medical clinic, but that will not be in effect by the next budget cycle. OMF was able to meet that financial obligation by selling the building.

The district is also finalizing contracts with Orcas Family Health Center and UW Medicine that includes details on funding as well as service and performance benchmarks such as a minimum number of providers and regular reporting.

A portion of OIHCD’s monetary contribution to the clinics is intended for after-hours care, and the district’s 2019 budget includes $52,400 to conduct both a community-needs assessment and a work group to look at the issue.

“We’re trying to get into a mode so that both clinics are provided after-hours compensation,” Fralick said. “And we want to do a comprehensive look at what other remote communities are doing for after-hours care.”