Friday, September 25, 2009

Um - What Happened to No Property Taxes for New Wishard Project?

Matt Gutwein has been absolutely everywhere these days, selling the community on the "New Wishard Project" that is the subject of a public referendum on November 3rd. Mailings - glossy and not - as well as phone calls polling opinion. Who knows how much money H&H is spending on this blitz.

Since blogger Paul Ogden first broke the wimpy wording of the referendum question itself, others, including Advance Indiana's Gary Welsh, have questioned the use of property taxes to repay the bonds on the project. There remains the key, outstanding question, also, as to whether or not the referendum question legally binds the Health & Hospital Corporation (H&H) to any particular project for any particular sum of money. To me the wording can be boiled down to: "We do good works. Shall we continue?". When I brought that up at last Saturday's McANA meeting, Matt Gutwein said that the Board would be meeting on Tuesday (now two days ago) and the wording they adopt for the project's bonds would legally tie down the referendum question. I'll leave it to the legal scholars among us to decided if the two acts - board action on some bonds and a public referendum are legally linked in any way.

Over and over and over again Gutwein tells us how there will be no property taxes used to repay the bonds floated to pay for this project.

So, imagine my surprise when I saw the legal notice of the H&H Board's decision at it's Tuesday meeting to float bonds for the New Wishard Project. The notice is reprinted below, along with a link to the IndyStar's publication of same -- I don't know if the link will give tomorrow's public notice, so please use it today if you wish.

What I learned from the notice:
1) The bonds cannot be for any more than $703,040,000, and must be repaid within 30 years.
2) The Indianapolis-Marion County Building Authority will actually float the bonds and lease the facilities back to H&H.
3) "All or any portion" of the bonds may be repaid from "property taxes collected by the Health and Hospital Corporation on all taxable property within the geographical boundaries of Marion County, Indiana".

I have changed the typeface to bold for the property tax statement within the public notice and put it in the paragraph form found in the print version of the Star.


Notice is hereby given that on September 22, 2009, the Board of Trustees of The Health and Hospital Corporation of Marion County, Indiana (the “Health and Hospital Corporation”), did adopt a resolution making a preliminary decision: (1) that a need exists for all or any portion of the construction and equipping of a replacement hospital and related facilities for Wishard Health Services currently located at 1001 West Tenth Street (the “Wishard Complex”), together with land acquisition and site development related thereto and all projects and activities related to any of the foregoing, including, but not limited to, all or any portion of the following: (a) acquisition of land and any improvements located thereon and any site development related thereto, (b) renovation and equipping of any such buildings, and the construction and equipping of one or more buildings which will replace the existing hospital and related facilities for the Wishard Complex and provide all or any portion of (i) inpatient services, (ii) diagnostic and treatment, (iii) clinical support, (iv) non-clinical support, (v) offices and education, and (vi) public and building functions (c) construction and equipping of a new ambulatory care building, (d) construction and equipping of one or more related parking garages and/or surface lots, (e) construction and equipping of a central plant for all of the foregoing facilities, and (f) all projects related to any of the projects or facilities described in clauses (a) through and including (e) (clauses (a) through and including (f), collectively, the “Wishard Hospital project”); and (2) to the extent permitted by law, to take all of the necessary steps to finance all or a portion of the costs of all, or as much as is possibly based on the facts and circumstances at the time, of the Wishard Hospital project by: (a) entering into a proposed lease or leases (collectively, the “Lease”) between the Indianapolis-Marion County Building Authority (the “Building Authority”), as lessor, and the Health and Hospital Corporation, as lessee, relating to all or any portion of the Wishard Hospital project operated or to be operated by the Health and Hospital Corporation; and (b) issuing one or more series of general obligation bonds of the Health and Hospital Corporation (the “General Obligation Bonds”). The Building Authority will issue one or more series of revenue bonds, as lessor, secured by and payable from the lease payments under the Lease (the “Revenue Bonds”).

All or any portion of the Health and Hospital Corporation’s payments of principal of and interest on the General Obligation Bonds and/or rental payments under the Lease may be payable from ad valorem property taxes collected by the Health and Hospital Corporation on all taxable property within the geographical boundaries of Marion County, Indiana. The proposed General Obligation Bonds and Revenue Bonds (collectively, the “Bonds”) shall be issued in an original aggregate principal amount not to exceed $703,040,000. The maximum term of each series of the Bonds will be 30 years, and the Bonds will bear interest at a rate or rates estimated not to exceed 6.16% per annum. Dated this 25th day of September, 2009.THE HEALTH AND HOSPITAL CORPORATION OF MARION COUNTY By: Dan Sellers, Treasurer (S - 9/25/09, 10/2/09 - 5543528) - 09/25


Pete Boggs said...

Excellent work Mr. Andrews- thank you. Please contact Carl Moulthand of the Indianapolis Taxpayers Assoc. Carl has a treasure trove of info. for you.

Carl E Moldthan said...

My name is Carl Moldthan and during the past two months I have looked at HHC’s budget, the CAFR’s for the past five years, their tax stream, the Special Funds they receive from Medicaid, the nursing homes they own and virtually everything anyone can think of. The truth is as I will explain:
Wishard owns 37 nursing homes which they receive approximately $17 million a year in revenues from. They also receive, as of 2008 $51 million from Medicaid’s special funds called Upper Payments Limits (UPL). These UPL funds make up the gap between Medicaid and Medicare for nursing home residents. As an example, a normal Indiana nursing home receives approximately $3,400 to $3,900 per month, per patient. However, HHC receives on average approximately $8,200 per patient, per month. These extra funds give HHC an advantage over other nursing homes because they can do improvements and repairs that other nursing homes cannot afford. This is one reason why HHC should NOT own nursing homes.
It is these extra UPL monies that are supposedly going to pay for the Bond Issue. In the real world these funds could be considered or identified as revenues. However, because they CANNOT guarantee these funds HHC must back these bond issues with General Obligation Bonds, thus the referendum. It makes no difference who is going to lease this or that building to or from whom. I can assure you that this has been planned for 7 years and HHC is not going to allow a mistake to take them down. The only method of bring them down is stopping the bond issue.
There are several things that can bring this bond issue to the point where we have to pay for it but the main two are:
1. Voters stop the BOND ISSUE.

2. If enough nursing homes in other cities complain to their respective Congressman, US Senator, State Senator or Representative there will be a huge hue and cry to close the loophole that allows HHC to own these nursing homes that is assuming that it is legal in the first place. This would cut their stream of UPL money thereby ending the revenue stream and starting a huge property tax increase on all of us. The sad thing is that this tax may NOT BE INCLUDED in the Property Tax Cap by the time we have to start paying for it. The cost to an average taxpayer who owned a house valued at $150,000 would be an extra $175 per year. “Do you feel lucky, well do ya taxpayer?”

3. The Medicaid money received for these nursing homes could be shut off tomorrow without notice by Medicaid. This type of Medicaid has been under investigation by the GAO and Congress for the past 8 years. The reason for the problems is the fact that so much money can be obtained and UPL money amounts are uncontrollable. Congress has referred to UPL as a SCAM. When it involves this type of money one has to ask the important “What If” questions. What if 10 other communities learn about the EASY method of building a new hospital and instead of $42 million per year (BOND COST PER YEAR) Medicaid is paying out $420 million a year? Medicaid would put a stop to this immediately and again the Taxpayers of Marion County would have to pay.

There are several other things that can happen but these two are the most probably. I like to think back to 1983 when then Mayor Hudnut promised that the 2% Food and Beverage tax would disappear after the $75 million Dome was paid for. Now, 25 years later we still owe $69 million on the Dome which if you’ve looked lately isn’t there, and the Food and Beverage tax is at 7%.

“Well, do you feel lucky, well do ya taxpayer?”

We all need to focus on one thing and that is beating the bond issue. The who, what or where doesn’t matter, the ONLY thing that matters is stopping the BOND ISSUE. If you have any question you can reach me at
Thank you for your time.


Citizen Kane said...

It was and always will be a lie - that is what self-dealing government officials do - they lie or misinform to get what they want - always under the guise of benefiting the general public and the true beneficiaries - themselves.

So, the next question for Gutwein should be how did the advertised bond amount rise to 703 million. We were told that there would be 620-630 million bonded, with another 120 million of build america bonds ("paid by Congress" - a direct quote, three times no less). He also said that the 620-630 included all of the interest and that the payments would be 38 million a year and that operating costs would be lower than they are now.

Carl E Moldthan said...

FYI: This Monday (9/28) on Abdul In The Morning Show (WXNT, AM 1430), the Indianapolis Taxpayers Association will present organized opposition to Wishard Hospital & Indiana University's proposed property tax increase.