You often hear people say that they are tired of being outvoted in statewide elections because of the population in Seattle or King County. Urban areas always seem to decide what is best for rural communities. My reason for attempting to minimize boundary lines in regards to the formation of the public hospital district was to avoid exactly this. Right now, with the boundaries set as is – the population of Aberdeen, Hoquiam and Cosmopolis make up more than half of the proposed district.
My proposal would have allowed Grays Harbor Community Hospital to promote incorporation of outlying areas through the annexation process. This process is a tool for municipalities and special taxing districts to expand and would have given Ocean Shores, Westport and Quinault a way to leverage their vote. In other words, the voters in North Beach could have told Grays Harbor Community Hospital that they would support being annexed into the district if they provide a clinic, medical services or some additional benefit to their area. It would have given outlying areas a greater voice in this process — I believe it was a missed opportunity.
There are approximately 70 city annexations per year out of 281 cities in Washington State. That is approximately one annexation per four cities every year. Though there is no information or reporting requirements for special taxing districts there are an estimated 1,670 special taxing or purpose districts in Washington State. According to the Goldwater Institute, special taxing districts are the fastest growing form of government in the United States. Annexations are common practice and are a practical way for special taxing districts, in this case a hospital district, to grow with voter approval.
I also made an economic argument for smaller boundaries and felt that Aberdeen, Hoquiam and Cosmopolis tend to reap the benefits of the hospital more than outlying areas. Grays Harbor Community Hospital contributes over 600 jobs to our community and I would bet my next paycheck the majority of those employed by the hospital live in those three cities. By virtue of location the citizens in our urban hub are more likely to be employed by the hospital.
My decision was NOT a deal breaker for Grays Harbor Community Hospital as Dan Jackson of The Daily World asserted in his opinion. Remember, property taxation was NOT an issue several months ago when the bill was proposed to our state officials. Grays Harbor Community Hospital only wanted the higher rate of Medicaid reimbursement.
My wife and I used Grays Harbor Community Hospital when all three of our children were born. We had outstanding service from the staff, nurses and doctors. My proposal as a commissioner did not reflect my opinion of the hospital or the great people who work there; it was about giving outlying areas leverage in joining the district.
Grays Harbor County Commissioner