Important Election for Lopez Healthcare on November 7th

November ballots will include Proposition #1: “Restoring Regular Property Tax Levy.”

This measure, created by Lopez Island Hospital District (LIHD), will sustain funding for island healthcare. A special public meeting about the measure is set for October 16, 5:30 p.m., at Lopez Island Family Resource Center (virtual option available).

Island Hospital’s 2017 termination of its contract with Catherine Washburn Medical Association (CWMA) had significant financial implications. Most importantly, their action resulted in a 50% reduction in Medicare reimbursement rates for the Clinic. CWMA, Clinic staff, and community members seeking a new management model learned the Clinic would need ongoing financial support from the Lopez community. That April, nearly 86% of voters approved creating the LIHD so property taxes could help cover gaps in payments from visits and actual costs of care. With that support, University of Washington Medicine agreed to manage the Clinic in partnership with the LIHD and CWMA.

LIHD’s mission is to ensure high-quality, island-appropriate, sustainable, and equitable healthcare service through partnerships, advocacy, and revenue. However, healthcare costs are rising faster than property tax income. Thus, there’s a need to increase revenues to preserve the Clinic and Lopez Island Physical Therapy (PT), as well as to fund future health services.

Why is LIHD asking voters to restore the regular property tax level (also known as a “Levy Lid Lift”)?

When LIHD was created, voters approved a levy rate of $.75 per $1,000 of assessed property valuation. Since then, although property values have risen, a 2001 state law limits tax revenue increases to 1% above the prior year. Thus, the levy rate available to LIHD has dropped to $.48 per $1,000 valuation. State law requires a public vote to lift the 1% lid and return to the original rate.

What will the Levy Lid Lift provide?
  • Increased income to sustain and enhance primary care and physical therapy.
  • Support for Lopez Pharmacy ownership transition (LIHD has already budgeted $100,000; more may be needed).
  • Maintaining reserves to buffer inflation.
  • Ability to respond to changing community needs. Future potential partnerships can be considered, tempered by fiscal restrictions, viable business plans, and quality metrics.
  • Assure the LIHD funding base through 2030.
How much will my taxes go up?

For an $800,000 valued property (median Lopez home price), the annual increase would be approximately $215, or about $18 per month.

For more information on issues LIHD will address with Proposition #1: