During the past few years, the Telluride Hospital District (THD) Board has been diligently planning for the future of health care in the community. As Chairman of the Board, I’d like to address an important issue relating to our plans in light of the current economic crisis.
As many know, the board is asking the district (zip code areas 81435, 81426 and 81430) to help fund the new medical center with Ballot Question 5A, a $15 million bond. The total cost of the new facility is $31 million, all-inclusive. We are asking the voters to help support a new medical center by funding part of the project. We will launch a capital campaign and apply for grants to finance the remainder.
We are acutely aware of the current state of the financial markets. Although we were recently advised that we could still sell the bonds, the rate of interest that we would have to pay on the bonds would be much higher than we had planned. Additionally, raising money through a capital campaign will be very difficult until the financial markets recover. Unless an economic miracle occurs, we will clearly have to delay our plans for building a new medical center.
Voting YES on Ballot 5A only gives the board authorization to bond at some time in the future. While we currently expect to have to delay our plans, voter approval in November of bond funding for the new medical center will put us in a much stronger position as we move forward with some of the many steps that must be completed before we begin to build a new medical center. Obtaining grant funding will be much easier if we already have approval for bond funding and clear voter support for the project. We can also begin a much more effective capital campaign if we already have bond authorization and clear voter support for the project.
The current Telluride Hospital District Board has a record of good financial performance. We do not intend to utilize the authorization that the voters give us by approving the bond until we can do so on a prudent and effective basis. At our upcoming meeting on Friday, Oct. 17, we will discuss making a commitment to not sell the bonds until at least four conditions are met:
1. Completion of a feasibility study with our Capital Campaign consultant that gives us confidence that we can raise the necessary private funds in a timely manner.
2. The economic climate has improved sufficiently that we can sell the bonds at a reasonable interest rate.
3. We have completed a reevaluation of the cost of the project that gives us confidence that we can complete it within the budget.
4. We have agreement on land. (Town of Telluride Questions 200 and 201 are important as well.)
The need to prepare for the health care needs of our community has not changed. Voting YES on Ballot 5A gives the board authorization to bond at some time in the future and will help us with many critical aspects of the project. Without this needed authorization, the efforts to ensure that we are prepared for the future health care needs of our community will be stymied.