Hospital asks city for financial rebate of $600,000

by Richard Uhlhorn

Editorial Correction: Lake Chelan Health has requested a correction to this article’s first sentence that indicated they had financial issues. In looking back through notes taken at the City Council meeting, it should be noted that Wade Ferris, city administrator, introduced CEO George Rohrich and made the statement that the hospital had run into financial issues.

The hospital administration pointed out that they were not requesting financial help, even though its request asks the City if it could provide financial relief.

In its email requesting the correction, the hospital stated that the request to the City Council was for consideration of a rebate, refund or reinvestment back into the community.

During the council discussion regarding the request, it was determined that City Attorney Quentin Batjar would look into the legalities of an intergovernmental transfer or other legal methods to give back.

Hospital request:

Hospital CEO George Rohrich visited Chelan City Council and asked them to consider rebating $600,000 in fees and property taxes to financially help the hospital out.

In one of the more bizarre requests for money from the City, Lake Chelan Health’s CEO George Rohrich told the City Council that the hospital had run into some financial issues and the Hospital was seeking relief from the City.

“The (new building) project is on schedule and on budget,” said Rohrich. He asked the City for consideration in helping the hospital out financially.

The ask was for $630,000, $330,000 of which has already been paid for water & sewer hookup fees and another estimated $300,000 in city sales taxes for construction and equipment.

Tim Hollingsworth asked if the hospital paid property taxes and if there was any provision they could consider to rebate some of the money paid.

City Attorney Quentin Batjar said he thought they could do it as an intergovernmental transfer, but it would have to be done on the legislative side legally.

Erin McCardle stated that any refund of water and sewer hookup fees would be passed on to the rate payers. “Hookup fees impact customers down the road,” she said.

Hollingsworth remarked that the existing hospital might be a way to justify a rebate. “We don’t know how that building will be used or even if it will be used.” (The hospital will be using the old hospital for certain functions like EMS, Business Office and other potential uses).

Peter Jamtgaard remarked that the hospital is a social asset to the city. He wondered if there could be grants to help the hospital’s financial issue.

Ty Witt stated that he was for anything the City could do to legally help the hospital. “I think the municipality should be involved.” Finance Chief Steve Thornton stated that he didn’t know of any legal way to help and would leave that up to the city attorney to address.

Batjer remarked that in the broader terms, maybe the city could think outside the box on this issue.

Hollingsworth asked how the money would be used if rebated. Witt said it would be used to purchase new equipment which is as important as the new building

City Administrator Wade Ferris asked the Council members to forward their suggestions and questions on the issue.

Sheriff’s Services Contract :

Chelan County Sheriff Brian Burnett was on hand at the council meeting to answer any questions the council members had concerning the proposed contract.

Sheriff Brian Burnett was on hand to answer any questions concerning the Sheriff’s Department’s new law enforcement services agreement at the Tuesday, August 24, City Council meeting.

City Administrator Wade Ferris stated that the City has a good working relationship with the Sheriff’s Department. Burnett assured the council that, “If it is not working for either one of the groups, we will come back and discuss.” He also stated that the department had a number of changes coming at them in a fast and furious manner.

Ty Witt stated that he knew the Sheriff’s Department job has gotten harder. He asked Sheriff Burnett if the space in Chelan was large enough. Burnett said it was.

Burnett told the council that the deputies now had individual tasers and the department was working on getting body cams. Witt said he thought they already had body cams and Burnett replied they didn’t. “We on have in-car cameras right now.”

Burnett explained that the Fourth of July crowds were surpassing all other major weekends. “In 2020 everyone was supposed to stay home.” He said 2020 had an eight percent up-tick in visitor ship and that 2021 even has a larger increase. “It’s more of a family weekend now.”

Tim Hollingsworth asked if six FTE’s was enough to fulfill the contract criteria particularly with the Marine Patrol issues. Burnett replied that there are two fulltime marine officers working Lake Chelan. He also stated that SAR (search and rescue operations) are going up, mostly in the Leavenworth area.

The City contract does not include the Rivercom charges. “It is not a part of this contract and we have been told that they won’t meet until October.”

Chris Baker was concerned that the City was not getting full market value. The Sheriff’s contract states that there would be 208 hours dedicated to foot and bicycle patrols. “I think the local kids would have a more favorable view of law enforcement if they interacted with deputies. I think it is important they get out of the car and walk up and down the street.” Burnett replied that 90 percent of those 208 hours out of the car were used during Memorial Day weekend.

Burnett also reported that Chelan has more calls to service than either Cashmere or Leavenworth. He also told the Council that the department was down eight percent on staff on the road because of light duty issues. “It is a big challenge.”

He sees the mandatory vaccination order as an issue also. “We will have issues with that,” said Burnett. “I’m not allowing the state to tell us where wego into the next week.”

Erin McCardle said it seemed they were missing something on the use of watercraft. “Do we need additional patrol out there,” she asked? “I was out on Sunday and there were jet skis in the river doing (high speed) circles. It’s happening everywhere.”

Burnett replied that it is a staffing issue. They work the lake from April to October with Nigel Hunger supervising the Marine Patrol efforts. “No, it isn’t enough,” said Burnett. “It’s a challenge.” He stated that they do get approximately $100,000 in grant money from State Parks.

The Council approved the 2022-2025 contract with the Sheriff’s Department.

Concessions:

With the lease for the Golf Course’s food concession up on December 31, Parks Director Paul Horne reached out to Coldwell Banker for help in attracting interested parties to apply for the concession in hopes that a new longer term lease will bring improvements to the kitchen and dining room areas along with a major increase in revenue.

“We are looking for well capitalized and friendly concessionaire,” said Horne. A few bullet points Coldwell Banker is working from follows:

  • The proposed services will evaluate potential candidates on their financial capacity, track record, menu, customer service potential and ability to staff the operation at optimal levels.
  • The goal is to enter a 5 to 10 ear lease with a well-qualified candidate.
  • Lease fees can be reinvested into the club house improvements to the kitchen and dining areas, which could be implemented by the tenant.
  • The proposal includes lease negotiations.

The hope is that a new concessionaire would bring a substantial increase in revenue.

The base fee with Coldwell Banker is $8,000 plus a 10 percent commission of the first year total gross lease value upon successful signing of a multi-year lease.

WSDOTBridge inspection of the WoodinAvenueBridge:

Public Works Director Jake Youngren told the Council that as the owner of the Woodin Avenue bridge, the City is required to make inspections to insure its integrity.

“We are not equipped to do this,” said Youngren. “We are going to have WSDOT provide these services.” WSDOT has the qualified personnel and equipment to conduct the inspection.

The inspection will take place this year (2021) and again in 2026 at a cost of $6,600. The City will provide any traffic control that might be needed.

Author: allthingslakechelan

I have been a journalist, photojournalist and reporter in the Lake Chelan Valley since 1988; first with the Wenatchee World, then 15 years at the Lake Chelan Mirror and another 12 years at GoLakeChelan. Currently, I am semi-retired but can't give up the media gig which is why I started All Things Lake Chelan blog. I also have two social media platforms; allthingslakechelan/facebook and lakechelansportsandrecration/facebook. I am also a professional photographer with many credits with major outlets around the world.

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