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|Paynesville Press - November 13, 2002|
Eden Lake to join hospital district
Eden Lake Township will soon become the 12th government entity to join the Paynesville Area Hospital District. Voters in the township approved joining the district by a vote of 390 in favor to 193 against at the general election last week.|
Eden Lake's entry into the district will almost surely become official at the next hospital board meeting (on Wednesday, Dec. 11, at 8 p.m.), when the district's board of directors is expected to pass a resolution approving the entry.
Eden Lake Township becomes the first new township to join the district since its formation in 1992. At that time, the townships of Paynesville, Roseville, Union Grove, and Zion voted to join the district, along with the cities of Paynesville, Regal, and St. Martin.
Voters in Eden Lake Township rejected entry into the district at that time, voting down joining the district 192-66 in September 1992.
Since then, four cities have voted to join the hospital district - Eden Valley (1995), Richmond (1999), Roscoe (1999), and Lake Henry (2000) - but no townships have joined.
The hospital district operates as the Paynesville Area Health Care System. It has a 30-bed hospital in Paynesville; operates five clinics (including clinics in Eden Valley, Paynesville, Richmond, and Watkins); and owns three nursing homes (the 64-bed Koronis Manor in Paynesville, the 48-bed Washburne Court in Paynesville, and the 65-bed Hilltop Care Center in Watkins). Washburne Court, though, is going to be closed as a board and care facility and switched to assisted living.
Expanding the hospital district aids PAHCS in a couple ways. First, it expands its tax base. Eden Lake Township will be the second largest entity in the hospital district with an estimated market value of $115 million, trailing only Paynesville Township, with an estimated market value of $121 million. (The city of Paynesville has the third largest tax base, at $81.7 million.)
The hospital district's new tax base will be $524 million, an increase of over 20 percent by the addition of Eden Lake Township.
PAHCS has never levied as a tax, either as a city hospital (from 1956 to 1992) or as a hospital district since 1992. But a larger tax base should enable the district to borrow more (since it is backed by a larger tax base) and to get better rates (since it is a better risk), said PAHCS CEO Steve Moburg before the election.
Moburg, who started as CEO this fall, recently reiterated the hospital district's desire to operate without taxing, but the entry of Eden Lake Township could help the district refinance its existing debt and borrow more to add a new wing to the Koronis Manor.
Second, entry into the district will give residents of Eden Lake Townships the feeling of ownership of the district, Moburg added.
Along those lines, Eden Lake Township will soon be represented on the hospital board. Once its entry is made official, the Eden Lake Township Board of Supervisors will appoint a township resident to serve on the hospital district's board of directors unil the next general election in 2004, when the position will be up for election.
Along with representation in the district, Eden Lake Township residents will now receive a $50 refund on ambulance calls by the Paynesville Ambulance Service. This is a benefit offered to members of the hospital district.
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