Palm Drive Health Care District is putting out request for proposals (RFP) to have expert lawyers weigh in on how the district can continue to spend Measure W parcel tax revenue.
The board discussed the progress at its Sept. 9 meeting at Sonoma Specialty Hospital. Measure W is the parcel tax that the district collects to maintain health services.
Director Richard Power raised the question about whether the funds could be legally spent on other health-related initiatives now that the district no longer manages a hospital. The concern was that the ballot language included operating the hospital as the goal of the measure and may therefore limit its use.
The ballot language passed by voters reads, “To ensure survival of Palm Drive Hospital (now Sonoma Specialty Hospital) and access to local emergency, acute care, medical and physician services, and provide for ongoing expenses, repair and improvements to equipment and technology, shall Palm Drive Health Care District repeal its existing tax and levy a special tax of up to $155 on each taxable parcel in the District (excluding low value parcels) while assuring independent fiscal oversight and financial accountability?”
The district has been mulling whether to pursue community health care for its future. Community health care can include promoting health lifestyles through public events and operating more within the scope of a health action chapter.
The district’s attorney, Bill Arnone, and Power are crafting the RFP. According to Arnone, one lawyer expressed interest before the final language was finished.
The final RFP should be done by the end of the week.
“We are making progress but it hasn’t gone out yet,” Arnone said.
Arnone said that one addition still to make would be the form desired in the response — whether it would be an attorney client privilege form, for example.
Director Eira Klick-Heartt said she wanted to know what each respondent’s area of expertise was ahead of a decision on who to go with.
“From when Measure W was written to what health care is today, I would want the people making their opinions to have some understanding of what health care development has been throughout that time frame,” she said.
She also noted that knowledge of state law changes would be useful. Power said that those changes may not affect Measure W.
“Measure W stands on its own. It doesn’t change after the fact,” Power said, though Arnone said some of the definitions of words used in the ballot language may have legally changed.
Brogan said it would be good to know if any of the other health care districts that now do community health care, 29 by her count, have been legally challenged in their use of any parcel taxes.
The board emphasized that the question of whether the district can operate to promote community health care by laws of health care districts is different from whether the district can use Measure W funds to implement those operations.
The board will vote to approve a lawyer for the RFP when an adequate applicant list is formed and recommendations from staff are in place.