Vashon Health Care District Board of Commissioners (left to right): Eric Pyrne, Wendy Noble, Tom Langland, LeeAnn Brown and Don Wolczko meet at the Presbyterian Church on Jan. 8. (Kevin Opsahl/Staff Photo)

Vashon Health Care District Board of Commissioners (left to right): Eric Pyrne, Wendy Noble, Tom Langland, LeeAnn Brown and Don Wolczko meet at the Presbyterian Church on Jan. 8. (Kevin Opsahl/Staff Photo)

Board furthers Health Care District establishment

Commissioners took steps to prepare for hiring of interim district superintendent, legal counsel.

While they wait and see if King County will approve of a $1 million loan, the Vashon Health Care District commissioners decided during last week’s meeting on a number of other items essential to operating the district.

Board President Tom Langland, along with commissioners LeeAnn Brown, Don Wolczko, Eric Pryne and Wendy Noble, approved resolutions outlining a job description for an interim district superintendent; office space for that official, who would be the chief administrative officer; and the firm the district will contract with for legal counsel.

Additionally, board members made progress on the idea of having a seal for the Health Care District and the wording of a mission statement — though both discussions did not result in a final decision.

The handful of actions came a little over a week before commissioners were to go before the King County Executive Finance Committee and plead their case for the district obtaining an inter-fund loan. If approved, the loan, acting as a line of credit, would be the foundational funding for the district through the rest of the year and into 2021 — the year when commissioners can begin to collect islanders’ property taxes to help fund the district.

On Jan. 8, board members mulled over the interim superintendent’s job description, which is multiple pages and the text of which was similar to what other hospital districts have used, Langland said. The description will be posted publicly in the near future on job sites and the district’s website, which is currently under construction.

The appointment of a superintendent — and an interim one while the commissioners search for a full-time official — is necessary to advise the board on all matters before the district, the Vashon commissioners have agreed. He or she would sit in with the commissioners during meetings but not have a vote on the board.

During the Jan. 8 meeting, Langland wondered how much interest the interim position would garner on the island.

“I really think there’s a dozen people living at the end of 600-foot driveways on this island, quietly semi-retired, that are going to be perfect for this job that already knows our culture,” Langland said. “We’ll see if they come through.”

The board approved a lease agreement with Courthouse Square for the superintendent’s office space — not the commissioners themselves. The other location considered for office space on Thursday was Sheffield Building, owned by the same leasor, according to Noble.

“The space on Courthouse Square is on the bus line, easy to find and will work well for us,” she wrote in an email to The Beachcomber. “It is important for the Superintendent to have a dedicated private workspace for conducting business.”

The board also agreed on Thursday to hire the firm Foster Garvey as the district’s legal counsel. The firm has six locations, from Seattle Beijing, and includes public hospital districts as clientele, according to the firm’s website.

The commissioners read over a draft of the district’s mission statement, but since they disagreed on the wording the matter was tabled. During the meeting, a few community members commended them for their work in coming up with such a statement.

One man, Alan Aman, asked the board why it feels it’s important for the health care district to have a mission statement. Langland weighed in.

“I think we’re just trying to put kind of a concise, simple message out to the community,” Langland said, “and also prevent mission creep among ourselves that this is really what we — the Health Collaborative and we, as commissioner candidates — set out to do.”

Noble was the commissioner who came up with the draft mission statement read at the Jan. 8 meeting.

“My understanding of a mission statement is it explains who are we, what’s our purpose and what do we do,” she said.

After the meeting, Aman, a retired health care professional on the island, talked about why he thinks a mission statement for the district is significant.

“I asked about it because it’s just one of the most important things a governing body takes on,” Aman said. “In my experience, it’s not unusual for groups to take several months to get a refined statement … that is conceptually clear — so clear that the actions a board or commission takes can proceed a little more carefully.”

He believes the wording of a mission statement is critical for stakeholders, in this case, islanders.

“Because the island is full of opinion — not many of which are right in this room — you want to have an opportunity to play catch ball with other people to think it through,” Aman said, “so that’s why I’d encourage (the commissioners) to take a slower pace.”

Commissioners spoke early on in the meeting about the need for a district seal — an emblem that acts as the official symbol for the governing body. It was suggested by community members that the seal could be the result of an “art contest” between islanders. Langland and other commissioners agreed though details on minimum requirements for submissions has yet to be determined.

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