Comparison of 3 Hospitals

Budget deficits keep pace with parcel tax revenue in 2 out of 3 hospitals

While fact checking the data included in the spreadsheet on page 9 of the MCDH Parcel Tax Presentation Oct 27 2017 a pattern emerged. This spreadsheet compares budgets from the last 3 years with MCDH and 2 nearby, community owned district hospitals, Healdsburg District Hospital (North Sonoma County Healthcare District) and Sonoma Valley Healthcare District, both of which have parcel taxes. The spreadsheet revealed that the districts with parcel taxes had deficits comparable to the parcel tax revenues they received!

It looks as if these 2 hospitals increased spending after their parcel tax passed and they never stopped running a deficit! If I was a property owner in those hospital districts I would be enraged at my elected officials for not using the parcel tax to balance their budgets.

On the other hand when I scrutinize MCDH’s performance in 2016 and 2017, I see a balanced budget with less variations than the 2 others, without a parcel tax! Where, in this spreadsheet, is there a convincing argument for a parcel tax? I would argue to the contrary!

The tendency to earmark items for the parcel tax restricts flexibility to balance the budget and encourages spending of the parcel tax on those earmarked items, whether the budget is in a deficit or not because, “a promise was made to the voters” to spend the tax on these earmarks. The general fund gets no relief and the directors hands are tied. I don’t agree that we need an oversight committee.

  • Have the parcel tax go into the general fund so the directors can balance the budget with it and make no single department a beneficiary/dependent of it.
  • Fund Obstetrics completely.
  • Have a salary cap and fix managements salaries and benefits to the total parcel tax.
  • Explore the option of doctors becoming hospital employees, rather than contractors with secret, proprietary agreements.

The existing MCDH Board of Directors have managed to balance their budget with a 3.3% surplus in 2016 and 0.9% deficit in 2017. (which may change dramatically in the next, long awaited, financial report). MCDH’s financials appear to be less volatile than Healdburg’s or Sonoma’s budgets, without a parcel tax.

I fail to see the urgency to rush this measure to the ballot. I would suggest that the MCDH Board should be proud of their performance, or the performance of ex-CFO Wade Sturgeon, in their management of the MCDH budget for the past 2 years!

Meanwhile we should develop a plan as to where and how it will be spent, instead of nice platitudes regarding “excellent care or local 911 services.”

The idea that 1.7 million dollars will save the hospital is naive. This would just cover a handful of administrative salaries, especially when the CEO and CFO salaries add to, over $600,000. I would suggest that along with the threat of losing our hospital the management of the hospital should consider that they too will not have jobs and will have to leave to find employment elsewhere. They may voluntarily reduce their own salaries to save the hospital. Then let’s look to pass a substantial parcel, tax that will have a significant impact.

3 hospital comparison


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