News Ticker

Maricopa Health Board Debates $950M Bond for November Ballot

By Michelle Ye Hee Lee for The Arizona Republic

Maricopa County’s top health official hopes to ask voters this fall to raise taxes for a $950 million bond issue that would pay for a new county hospital and renovations to existing facilities.

The board has discussed a potential bond issue in executive session, but [today] will be the first public meeting on the subject. Board Chairwoman Susan Gerard and member Donald Rumer-Rivera said they intend to vote against placing the matter before voters this fall.

Betsey Bayless, president and chief executive of the Maricopa Integrated Health System, wants the board to decide the matter before a July 24 legal deadline to place items on the general-election ballot.

While the board has not had much time to review the details of the resolution, Bayless said, improving and building new hospital facilities is part of the district’s strategic plan.

Board members agree that the hospital needs better facilities. But given the size of the bond, they said, voters need input on the plan before they’re asked to agree to a tax increase.

But Bayless said this fall’s election provides a “window of opportunity” for the hospital system. It is a presidential-election year, meaning more people will vote, and there is a positive consumer sentiment about Arizona and Maricopa County economies improving that would likely spell approval for the bond issue, she said.

Last October, MIHS signed a deal with the University of Arizona College of Medicine in Phoenix to become the school’s primary training, teaching and research hospital. Bayless said she envisions the new hospital being a bioscience campus built with the university’s involvement and used for clinical and academic research.

Read more at AZCentral