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Good decision by City Council
I t was obvious that the recent vote to approve a bid to build a new Snoqualmie City Hall was a painful process. Despite the economic downturn, prices continue to escalate and the bids came in higher than anticipated.
A split council decision approved a bid, and for that I applaud the council, especially those with the vision to see that this is a project that needs to happen.
Snoqualmie has very aggressive plans to remodel their downtown. The downtown master plan will require both public and private investment to accomplish, some of which is financed through federal grants. But Snoqualmie needed to show additional commitment to downtown and the new City Hall is exactly the kind of commitment that private investors are looking for, before proceeding with their own investments.
Many of us have seen our buildings and businesses remodeled in renderings of a new downtown. We are being asked to buy into this new vision, and the majority of the council realized that it takes stimulus from the public sector to create enthusiasm in the private sector.
Again, I applaud those council members who approved the bid to move forward.
What about the hospital
Its a sticky situation and I am afraid the board of commissioners may have gone too far down the path to turn around. Here is the question: Do you want a new hospital at a new location funded by the hospital district? Its a simple question, but one that both the hospital district staff and commissioners seem to be avoiding. Now that the board has approved the sale of the current hospital property to the tribe, it may be a moot point, but there seems to be enough concerned individuals to raise the question. As stated several times, hire a firm to do a survey of hospital residents and ask the questions:
A) Do you want a new hospital?
B) If yes, do you think a new hospital should be built at a new location?
C) If no, do you think a new hospital should be built at the current location?
D) If yes, are you willing to be taxed more to support a new hospital?
Maybe its just a vocal minority raising questions, but with two failures behind us and the potential for two new hospitals only 15 minutes away, there are still enough concerns that the above questions should be asked.
I also think the hospital district needs to do a better job of openly communicating their goals, desires and spending plans. Even a non-profit financing plan needs to be clearly communicated, in writing, to every hospital district taxpayer, through several mediums, before a decision is made. The biggest concern with any public entity is a lack of communication on how our tax dollars are going to be spent. Newsletters, public hearings, legal notices, e-mail, a Web site, all would improve communication to taxpayers. If we truly want a new hospital that will succeed, we need to find more ways of getting more people more information. Its no different than the school district asking for more money, and they have gone to great lengths to provide information. The letter of the law is to provide 24 hours notice to any newspaper or individual who has requested notice of standing or special meetings. The intent of the law is for the hospital district to provide notice enough in advance for people to formulate questions, present concerns and fully understand where their tax dollars are going.
I urge the hospital district commissioners to stop entering into any more contracts, and let the process happen at a pace that allows all the districts taxpayers to understand what is happening.