For the first time in 23 years, voters in Monroe are being asked to increase its levy for Valley General Hospital even as a state audit finds management struggles to handle the money it already has.
Proposition 1 would increase the levy by approximately $46-per-year. Valley General said it had avoided asking for an increase for many years to lessen the burden on its taxpayers, preferring to pull money from cash reserves.
But after losing money for five straight years, cutting staff and resources and with the reserves at just over $2 million, campaign supporters said time ran out.
“In the situation the hospital is in already,” said Valley General Hospital nurse and campaign supporter Mark Glover, “It might very well mean the end of the hospital.”
Which, Glover points out, means urgent and trauma care could be in jeopardy and force patients to drive into Everett to get treatment.
“The people at the hospital should all get a big, collective hug,” said hospital spokeswoman Collette Reams, “That would be passing this levy.”
Reams could not speak to the state audit, released April 1st, that claims the hospital districts financial position “puts it at risk of not meeting its financial obligations” and “does not have adequate oversight” of its financial operations to safeguard public resources.
In particular, the audit found spent more than $6,400 on turkeys but could not provide receipts for what they were for. The hospital district also spent $9,300 on a banquet with $1,300 of alcohol even though under that is prohibited under its policy. The district also spent $1,300 for employee recognition, including sports tickets, even though according to the audit, that also “exceeded hospital policy”.
In its response to the audit, Valley General Hospital pointed out much of the administration from the time period of the report has been replaced and changes have been made to financial operations.