PDH board sets zero tax rate for 2010-11, approves application for USDA loan

Linda Satchwell
Staff Writer

The Plumas District Hospital board meeting Aug. 5 was once again dominated by discussion of a possible new hospital building, and the pending Measure B vote.

PDH's Chief Executive Officer John Nadone reported that Monday, Aug. 2, he submitted a full application for a low-interest USDA loan, which the hospital hopes to use to fund its new building.

He said the amount requested on the loan is $21.5 million, a "not to exceed amount." For that reason, the figure submitted includes the full $17.5 million PDH requested in Measure A.

Although lower property assessments only allow the district to borrow a total of $15.3 million at this time, the "not to exceed" terminology had Nadone applying for the full amount, in case the district's assessed value increases at a later date and it wants to borrow to the full amount.

Nadone said he'd spent the previous day on the phone with Mike Colbert, the USDA area specialist for rural development, and he was very helpful.

The hospital board passed a resolution approving the application by a unanimous roll call vote.

The board also acknowledged that if the tax cap passes Aug. 31, it would effectively kill the USDA loan process.

Next, the board unanimously passed a resolution setting the tax rate for the 2010-11 tax year.

In presenting the second resolution, board president Dr. Mark Satterfield explained that since PDH had not sold any more Measure A bonds and because it had collected enough in the past year to service the bonds already sold, it was "asking the county to collect no taxes for this year."

Further, Satterfield said Nadone agreed that if Measure B were to fail and the board went ahead with the USDA loan, and the board decided to sell more bonds in December 2011 to fund the loan, and "keeping within the $125/$100,000" limit, additional tax would not be needed in the coming year.

The resolution directed the county to levy a zero tax "to pay the principal of and interest on the district's general obligation bonds for fiscal year 2010-2011," and passed unanimously by a roll call vote of the board.

A discussion between Measure B proponents, Save Our Hospital group and the board during public comment focused on the special board meeting July 15. Because none of the tax-cappers knew about the meeting, and because SOH was there in force, cappers called it a conspiracy.

At that meeting, the board voted to extend Chief Executive Officer Richard Hathaway's current contract.

Also, Satterfield motioned: "It is the intent of the Board of Directors of Plumas District Hospital to only approve the sale of bonds if the tax rate will be $125 per $100,000 or less of assessed property value in the highest year, and $100 per $100,000 or less on average over the life of the bond."

Fred Thon seconded and the board authorized the motion by a unanimous vote of attending members (Bill Elliott was out of town.)

Another point of contention was the wording in the newspaper, which wrongly called the motion a resolution. Apparently, the cappers felt the word "resolution" carries much more weight than a motion of intent. According to Feather Publishing's attorney, however, the two words are, in essence, synonymous.

The fact individual words were scrutinized is an indication of how contentious the hospital tax issue has become.

The directors' comments that end every board meeting took on extra weight at the Aug. 5, as the directors realized this would be their last word as a board before the election.

Satterfield's remarks summarized nearly a year of discussion and distress over the hospital tax. He said that whether Measure B passed or failed, Measure B proponents were welcome to become involved in discussion of and planning for the hospital's future for the benefit of the community.

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