Yes on 5D
Measure would lift restrictions on receiving grant funding
The Montezuma County Hospital District owns the facilities and land that house two critical regional health care providers: Southwest Memorial Hospital in Cortez and Mancos Valley Health Center in Mancos. In providing those facilities, the district is an essential partner in the region’s health care and is rightly committed to maintaining and improving the hospital and clinic. Doing so takes no small amount of money, though, and state limits on how much grant funding the district can receive curb the level of investment it can make in the facilities. District voters have an opportunity to change that, at no cost to them, and should do so.
If Ballot Question 5D is approved, MCHD would be eligible to receive grants it cannot currently accept under limits imposed by the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights. Those restrictions keep districts from accepting grants that would push them over TABOR’s spending limits. With voters’ approval the limits would be lifted, and MCHD would be eligible for state grants that could significantly boost its infrastructure investment. It is the right thing to do for the region’s health care.
Voters have nothing to lose and everything to gain from the vote. There are no tax implications associated with 5D. Members of the district will not be subject to a tax increase under the measure, but instead would make MCHD a contender for grant funding disbursed by the state Department of Local Affairs, paid for by gas and oil revenue. By lifting the restrictions, MCHD would be able to apply for and accept $1million in grant funding; it is currently limited to just $27,000 annually. The difference is staggering.
The grant money MCHD is seeking would be invested in infrastructure, capital projects and improvements at the two facilities it owns. For rural health care, that can mean a significant improvement in the treatment options Montezuma County residents have available. That such improvement can come simply by lifting a spending restriction — a process known as “deBrucing” after TABOR proponent Douglas Bruce — should make Ballot Question 5D an easy sell for the district’s voters. As Friends of Our Hospital committee spokesperson Karen Sheek said, “The beauty of 5D is that it will cost taxpayers absolutely nothing — not one dime — but it will help our local hospital access funding that is currently unavailable. When 5D passes, everyone benefits. Not only will the hospital be able to keep up with the latest technology and continue providing great care and services to all of us, but this additional money coming into the community will also be an economic boon.”
She is correct, and funding that work with state grant money is far more feasible than doing so with scarce local dollars. Health care technology and infrastructure is not cheap, nor is it expendable. Access to well-funded medical facilities is a key quality of life component that reflects well — or poorly — on communities. By creating an avenue for existing state money to flow to Montezuma County’s medical infrastructure, MCHD voters will be making a cost-free but priceless investment in the region. Vote yes on 5D.