Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Jon Elrod Urges No Vote On Wishard Referendum

The following is a guest post by former State Rep. Jon Elrod explaining why you should vote no on the Wishard referendum. It's great to see there's a real Republican left in Marion County.

As the old maxim says, “The only certainty in life is death and taxes.” So if a governmental entity tells me they need the ability to raise taxes, but promises not to raise taxes, I am skeptical.

HHC must issue bonds to get a mortgage to build a shiny new hospital. In order to get a decent rate, the bonds must be secured by a property tax levy. But they assure us that the money from the nursing homes will pay the mortgage, without a tax levy.


These nursing homes were not built or purchased by HHC. They are not managed by HHC. Nor has HHC made any investment in the nursing homes. But there are complicated contracts in place that make it appear that HHC owns and operates the nursing homes. So how does HHC make millions annually off of nursing homes that it does not own or manage?

Well, it’s a scam; er, loophole. Medicare reimburses government nursing homes $55 a day more than private nursing homes. So an enterprising private nursing home owner came to HHC and said if we make HHC the owner on paper, we can split that extra $55 and both make millions.

That works until a president promises to cut $500B in Medicare waste. Oh wait... Just one change in the rules for what constitutes a “government” nursing home, and no more $55 reimbursement. Then HHC’s contracts will terminate. Then property taxes will pay the mortgage on the hospital.

Is this likely? Well, evidently no bank is willing to loan HHC money at a reasonable rate without the property tax levy. If the banks are not willing to risk it, why should taxpayers? HHC knows it needs the property taxes. Why, just two years after the property tax revolt that threw Peterson out of office, would HHC risk another backlash? They want the property taxes.

But let’s say the nursing home money continues to flow for the full30 years on the mortgage. Does HHC have to spend the nursing home money on the mortgage? No. HHC can spend that money however it wishes. HHC can collect property taxes whenever it wants. There is no mechanism to ensure the property taxes will be collected only in the event that the nursing home money dries up. When has government ever declined to spend money when it had the opportunity?

If you vote yes on the referendum, do so because you are willing to pay more taxes for a shiny new hospital, not because you think the hospital will be free.

I admit that a new hospital is a better use of taxpayer money than the Simon Building, Lucas Oil Stadium, or that spaceship that landed behind our Central Library. But that is not a justification.

Property taxes are the most regressive of all taxes. Owners or renters (through rent), pay them regardless of their income. They tax a basic necessity: shelter. At least the sales tax does not apply to necessities (groceries, health care, education). The poor people in the poorest neighborhoods will be most affected by this tax.

If you support the constitutional property tax caps, vote against this amendment. Your tax rate will no longer be capped at 1% for residential.

In my opinion, all of the “free” nursing home money should be saved up. The hospital should be built in phases. But HHC wants a shiny new hospital now, and that little bronze placard that immortalizes the board and officers.

Vote no.

Jonathan R. Elrod


Advance Indiana said...

I see Wilson Allen is still stalking Jon. Don't even try to post anymore of your comments, Wilson. They will all be rejected.

Indy4U2C said...

Jon has some points that are very worthy of thought!

I have still not found an answer to my own question yet: Why does Wishard want to build a new hospital?

As I go into that magnificent campus called Wishard Hospital, I take note that the entire campus has been rebuilt/renovated within recent years. I cannot recall EVER going to Wishard and not seeing obvious signs of renovation/construction taking place.

Wishard now has a beautiful parking garage, private restaurant inside, the rooms have been updated and are modern...

The AT/Shock rooms are state of the art! I see no signs from my own perspective that "Wishard is dying," as it's spokesman says in news releases. Instead, I see a vibrant renovated hospital that has kept up with the times through renovation.

If you go to Wishard today, you will see construction taking place...so what are we to do, throw the millions of tax dollars away so we can build a new hospital at a higher tax rate?

Wishard supporters have not answered my question. They just use rhetoric, and repeat the "Wishard is dying" campaign slogan.

I can support a new Wishard if it were needed, but I have not seen any demonstrated need.

Sean Shepard said...

Have to agree with Jon to a large extent on this. From my perspective, the city decided that the sports stadiums and the convention center were more important causes to borrow money for than sewers or hospitals anyway.

And how is that HHS deal not getting scrutiny from the Feds? And why do government run facilities get $55 more per day, what the hell is that about? Can't government do it better and cheaper like so many people (disconnected from reality) like to claim?

At what point do politicians need to quit maintaining or increasing the current levels of taxation and just start having to pick and chose what they buy or support just like the rest of us?

Loved the "spaceship" behind the library line too. They certainly don't build them like they used too. *sigh*

patriot paul said...

Excellent outline of a scam. thank you for posting it.

Advance Indiana said...

I live in a hundred-year-old building, and the last thing I would consider doing is tearing it down. It is better to spend money maintaining it than attempted to build a new one comparable to it. It has attributes that new buildings are lacking, not to mention solid construction principles. Many of these new buildings look more glamorous but are actually not built to last for long periods of time. Look at how several of the major buildings downtown built in the 1980s have had to have their facades completely redone. It cost more to put a new skin on the Regions building than it cost the owners to purchase it.

Indy Student said...

You guys know of any more events Guttwein is going to be at before the election?

Citizen Kane said...

Great post!

Downtown Indy said...

Indy Star has been blotting out my Wishard opposition posts. And it appears quite a number of others, too. Interesting, eh?

I haven't said a thing that was rude, crude or vulgar. I just laid out the referendum facts, concluding with the fact they can build their hospital if we vote down the referendum.

Oh, I did plainly state it was a lie for the stories to say"

"The countywide referendum allows voters to decide whether the county will spend $754 million to build a new facility for Wishard Memorial Hospital."


"On Nov. 3, make sure you go to your local polling place and vote "yes" for a new Wishard."

because, as we know, the vote only determines how the county will borrow the money it will spend, not whether the hospital can be built.

My new posts don't go in, either. Or rather they go in and appear in my own profile list, but they dont't make it into public view.