Let's begin by setting the record straight. According to the public notice, the Marion County Building Authority and not the Health & Hospital Corporation will be issuing general obligation bonds and revenue bonds. The total bond issue is expected to be $703,400,000. Interest costs may add an additional $830 million to the project over a 30-year period. A smaller amount of Build America bonds will also be issued, although the public notice does not specify the amount. The HHC intends to lease the new hospital facility from the Building Authority over a 30-year period at an annual cost of $54.8 million. Total lease payments payable by the HHC to the Building Authority are estimated to be $1.478 billion.
The HHC currently has a certified tax levy of $3.7 million and is levying $0.0085 per $100 of assessed value for its debt service fund. After these new bonds are issued, the certified tax levy amount is expected to climb to $54.8 million based with a tax levy of $0.1494 per $100 of assessed value.
The public notice makes it abundantly clear that repayment of the bonds is secured by property taxes. If the bond referendum is approved, the HHC will have the ability to levy up to $41.73 million annually in higher property taxes, making it one of the largest property tax increases in Marion County history. Remember, once a project like this is approved, it will fall outside the protection of the property tax caps that limit the amount of property taxes local governments may collect based on a percentage of a property's assessed valuation. More importantly, none of these facts are laid out in the public referendum question that will be put to voters in the November special election. It doesn't even state expressly that the bond proceeds will be used to build a new hospital! Here's the bond referendum language. Note how misleading and uninformitive it is.
“Shall the Health and Hospital Corporation of Marion County, Indiana, issue bonds or enter into a lease to finance safe, efficient and functional facilities for the Wishard Hospital project:
1.to allow Wishard to provide access to care for all residents of Marion County, including people who are seniors, poor, uninsured or vulnerable regardless of their ability to pay; and
2.to allow Wishard to provide specialized care, including to victims suffering from traumatic injuries or severe burns; and
3.to allow Wishard to work with colleges and universities, including Indiana University School of Medicine, Ivy Tech Community College, and the Purdue School of Pharmacy, to teach future doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals in Indiana?”