Samaritan Healthcare asking for $130 million construction bond authorization
Theresa Sullivan, Samaritan chief executive officer, details some of the reasoning that led to a request for a $130 million construction bond that will go before voters in April.
CHERYL SCHWEIZER/COLUMBIA BASIN HERALD
Staff Writer | February 1, 2023 4:28 PM
MOSES LAKE — Samaritan hospital district patrons will be asked to accept or reject a construction bond for up to $130 million in a special election April 27. If approved, the bond would pay part of the cost of building a new Samaritan Hospital.
District commissioners voted 5-0 to authorize the bond request at the commission meeting Tuesday, without discussion.
If the bond is approved, property owners would pay an estimated $1.10 per $1,000 of assessed property value. The owner of property worth $200,000 would pay $220 per year, and the owner of property worth $300,000 would pay $330 per year.
Brad Berg, the district’s attorney, said the bond would have a maximum payback provision of 30 years. While the hospital district would not have to spend the full amount, Berg said it was likely that the full bond authorization would be utilized after reviewing estimated costs for the project.
The vote followed a review of the construction project to date, and an estimate of the possible cost if the bond is approved.
Commissioners approved the construction of a new 50-bed hospital in October 2018. Samaritan Chief Executive Officer Theresa Sullivan said financial analysis at the time, done during the early phases of the project, showed Samaritan could pay for its share of the project without a bond.
That changed in 2020, she said.
“In 2020 we were almost done with the design of the new hospital,” Sullivan said. “We thought that we would actually be breaking ground that fall.”
The COVID-19 pandemic intervened, she said, and the district’s initial application for a loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to pay for part of the project was denied but was later approved in 2021. In the meantime, costs had increased, she said.
Joe Kunkel, a consultant working with the hospital on the project, gave a total project estimate of about $225 million, if the bond is approved and construction starts this year.
Kunkel said the design was mostly complete when work on the project was halted.
“We’ve gone through all the design elements - design, development, construction documents. We’re at 95% of construction documents,” he said.
That would be an advantage if the bond is approved, he said.
“Because we’re so far along with design, we can jump right in. We can make sure we’re done with our permitting, and we’ve already got our conditional use permit with the city of Moses Lake,” Kunkel said. “We can pull those pieces together pretty quickly and we can be off and running this summer, late summer, coming out of the ground.”
When making a motion to approve the request, Commissioner Alan White said the board has a responsibility to see that the hospital will be able to provide the needed services for district patrons.
“It’s our job to look out for needs, and it just looks like the best way to finance what we need for our community,” he said.
Cheryl Schweizer may be reached at email@example.com.
For more information on Samaritan's plans for a new hospital, visit: https://bit.ly/SAMHLTH1