No comfort in health care district debt

King County money is already our money whether or not we lend it to the Vashon Health Care District.

I’m puzzled by the Health Care District’s cavalier approach to borrowing money. Lacking any clear plan for the future of health care on Vashon, the commissioners announced that job one for 2020 is to borrow $1 million from King County “to sustain itself until mid-2021.” While they aren’t exactly sure where and on what they will spend the loan money, finance committee member Don Wolczko assured The Beachcomber the district would be “hemorrhaging” money until their newly approved property tax revenue begins to trickle in sometime in May 2021. Wolczko’s estimated list of expenses ranges as high as $682,000 for 2020 alone, but fellow commissioner Eric Pryne cautioned that “islanders should not make too much of the proposed budget.”

OK, then. Let’s simply accept the prospect of the district “hemorrhaging” hundreds of thousands of dollars on something beneficial yet to be determined. While I don’t object to spending borrowed money for something necessary, I do object to Wolczko’s notion that the loan money to be hemorrhaged by the Health Care District in 2020 will just be “King County money” and somehow not real money that island property taxpayers will eventually have to pay back, likely with interest.

Here’s the problem for island property taxpayers: King County money is already our money whether or not we lend it to the Vashon Health Care District. If district commissioners hemorrhage that borrowed money in a cavalier fashion, it’s our money that gets wasted. Then, get this, we have to continue to cough up our own property taxes to pay it back.

Whose money is this? It’s island taxpayers’ money in both cases. Let’s hope our elected commissioners understand that and spend it wisely and seriously.

— John van Amerongen

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