West Contra Costa Healthcare District Parcel Tax Question, Measure C (May 2014)
|Voting on Taxes|
|Not on ballot|
- 1 Election results
- 2 Text of measure
- 3 Support
- 4 Opposition
- 5 Similar measures
- 6 Related measures
- 7 See also
- 8 External links
- 9 Additional reading
- 10 References
If approved, Measure C would have authorized a special property tax in the West Contra Costa Healthcare District of 14 cents per square foot on the houses of district residents, which would have amounted to $168 per year for a 1,200-square-foot house and $280 for a 2,000 square-foot house. This tax would have been in addition to a parcel tax of $99 per year per parcel that property owners already paid to fund the district's hospital, Doctors Medical Center (DMC). This Measure C tax had no sunset date and would have not expired unless the hospital and emergency room closed down. The tax would have provided an estimated $20 million in revenue per year for the hospital, which had been losing about $1.5 million per month because 80 percent of its 40,000 annual patients were under-insured.
Officials said that, without the approval of Measure C revenue, the Doctors Medical Center would have been forced to shut down.
Ballots were mailed out to voters starting on April 7, 2014. County officials told registered voters that if they had not received a ballot by April 15 they should call the county elections office to get a replacement ballot. Mailed ballots were due back on May 6, 2014.
District voters approved a parcel tax to fund the hospital in 2011 under Measure J.
A 2/3rds supermajority vote was required for approval of Measure C.
- Election results from Contra Costa County Elections office
Text of measure
The official ballot question for Measure C was:
To maintain local emergency room care and continue to provide critical medical services, such as intensive care, care for heart attacks, emergency respiratory care and cancer treatment, shall the West Contra Costa Healthcare District be authorized to levy an annual special tax of fourteen cents per square foot of building area per parcel, with annual audits by an independent oversight committee?
The county counsel provided the following statement as an impartial analysis of Measure C:
The Board of Directors of the West Contra Costa Healthcare District has adopted a resolution proposing a parcel tax (a qualified special tax). This ballot measure asks voters to decide whether a parcel tax should be imposed on parcels of real property located within the District beginning July 1, 2014.
If this measure passes, a parcel tax of 14 cents per square foot of total building area, excluding residential carports, would be levied on each parcel of taxable real property within the District beginning July 1, 2014. The measure states that the total building area on each parcel of taxable real property would be determined based on information from the Contra Costa County Assessor, or, if that information is missing from the Assessor's records, from the records of the building department of the jurisdiction in which the property is located. The measure states that the parcel tax would expire if Doctor's Medical Center and its Emergency Room permanently close.
A parcel of taxable real property is any unit of real property located in the District that receives a separate property tax bill from the Contra Costa County Treasurer-Tax Collector's Office. The parcel tax would not be levied on parcels that are exempt from paying property taxes.
The ballot measure states that the proceeds from the parcel tax will be used for capital improvement expenditures and debt repayment, and to defray operating expenses. Proceeds from the parcel tax may be used only for the specific purposes set forth in the ballot measure and according to constitutional and statutory provisions.
State law requires the District's chief fiscal officer to file an annual report with the District's Board of Directors that states the amount of funds received and expended in each year and the status of any projects required or authorized to be funded with parcel tax proceeds. State law also requires the proceeds from the parcel tax to be deposited into a designated account. The measure states that an independent citizens' oversight committee will review annual audits and report to the Board of Directors and the public on the expenditure of parcel tax proceeds.
Two-thirds of those voting on the ballot measure must approve the measure for it to pass.
A "yes" vote is a vote in favor of authorizing the parcel tax.
A "no" vote is a vote against authorizing the parcel tax. 
—Contra Costa County Counsel, 
- Contra Costa County Supervisor John Gioia, of Richmond, said, "There is clearly voter tax fatigue in West County. We have our work cut out for us."
- A "yes on C" campaign was formed. It was called Keep our ER Open.
The following people signed the official arguments in favor of Measure C:
- Desmond Carson MD, emergency room physician
- Humayun Tufail M.D., Chief of Hospitalist Services
- Laura Baeza, emergency department nurse
- John Gioia, Contra Costa County Supervisor
- Vern Whitmore, incoming president of the Richmond Chamber of Commerce
Arguments in favor
Supporters of the tax had hoped that, if the district and the hospital would establish fiscal stability, it could have found a partner in another local jurisdiction. Hospital spokeswoman Remy Goldsmith said, "... it was made clear to us that no other hospital or hospital system would affiliate with DMC if it meant assuming a large annual deficit."
In previous campaigns for DMC parcel taxes, proponents requested advertising and campaigning contributions from Kaiser Permanente and John Muir Medical Center. According to Supervisor Gioia, these past donors were solicited once again for the 2014 measure campaign.
Dr. Richard Stern of Doctors Medical Center said, "If the hospital closes, people are going to have to travel to either John Muir or Alta Bates in Oakland and that time on busy freeways, traffic, congestion, those minutes count and it's going to be the difference between life and death for some people."
The following arguments were submitted in favor of Measure C:
Vote yes on Measure C to keep Doctors Medical Center and its emergency room open. We must save our local ER and hospital from closing. If you're in an accident or hurt, you need immediate medical care. If you have a stroke or heart attack, you need to get to a hospital fast. In West County, an ambulance will take you to the ER at Doctors Medical Center (DMC), even if you're a Kaiser member. But what if DMC wasn't there anymore? 40,000 patients visit DMC's ER every year. Where will they go?
Without DMC's ER, patients will be diverted to other hospitals much farther away. Kaiser's ER only has 15 beds and may have to serve 100 additional patients a day, forcing wait times as long as 10 hours. This is unacceptable and dangerous.
Seconds count in an emergency and extra travel time could mean the difference between full recovery, long-term disability or even death.
DMC is the stroke and heart attack center for all West County. It's our only public emergency room, serving all residents. The hospital provides free breast cancer screening for low-income women and free health screenings for seniors.
If we don't pass this measure, DMC and its emergency room will close. We will lose the emergency services that are essential to any community and that we all need.
The hospital has cut costs, reduced overhead, and eliminated management positions. Government reimbursements continue to decline, so while the cost of care is going up, the money DMC receives is going down.
The choice for voters in West County is clear. Vote yes to keep the hospital and its emergency room open. Vote no and our hospital and ER will permanently close, creating a healthcare catastrophe.
Vote YES on Measure C. Mail in your ballot today. 
—Desmond Carson M.D., Humayun Tufail M.D., Laura Baeza, John Gioia and Vern Whitmore, 
Alex Aliferis, executive director of the Contra Costa Taxpayers Association, said, "Independent districts that tax are really numerous. The average homeowner is feeling the pinch."
The following district residents and homeowners signed the official arguments against Measure C:
- Margie Liberty
- Marilynne L. Mellander
- Paul Sartur
- Eddy Guerra
- Deberah Henson
The following arguments were submitted in opposition to Measure C:
Doctors Hospital has had a financially unsustainable revenue stream for decades. What this hospital needs is a long term solution not a short term, piecemeal one such as another parcel tax.
This tax does not solve Doctors financial problems. 
—Margie Liberty, Marilynne L. Mellander, Paul Sartur, Eddy Guerra, Deberah Henson, 
- The Contra Costa Times published an editorial that advocated a "no" vote on Measure C. It stated that it was time for the hospital to give up and finally admit that it was not financially feasible. The editorial said:
In 2011, we urged district officials to work quickly to find a permanent solution before this year, when projections showed the district would run out of money.
That day has come. There has been no progress in 2 1/2 years. District officials are still talking about the savior hospital with which it can merge. Meanwhile, it's hemorrhaging money and going deeper into debt.
The hospital now loses roughly $20 million a year, even with the two current tax measures. Worse, to keep the hospital afloat since 2011, the district borrowed $40 million. The money's gone, but the loan won't be paid off until 2042.
It's time for district residents to cut their losses. Even if the district finds a partner, it would have to go back to voters again for another tax to fund construction of a new hospital because the current one is not earthquake safe.
Most of the hospital's services can be provided elsewhere. The concern -- and it's a big one -- is the loss of the emergency room. Without it, residents will be forced to drive farther when they need lifesaving help. 
—Contra Costa Times editorial board
- Parcel tax elections in California
- California parcel tax on the ballot
- Parcel tax
- May 6, 2014 ballot measures in California
- Contra Costa County, California ballot measures
- Contra Costa County elections department website
- Doctors Medical Center hospital website
- Keep Our ER Open website
- San Francisco Bay Area CBS, "Contra Costa County Voters Consider Parcel Tax To Keep Doctors Medical Center Open," April 18, 2014
- San Ramon Patch, "Contra Costa County Voters to Vote on Measure C Parcel Tax," April 18, 2014
- Contra Costa Times, "Tough fight looms for new tax to support San Pablo hospital," February 3, 2014
- ABC Local, "Parcel tax proposed to save Doctors Medical Center," April 14, 2014
- Contra Costa Times, "West Contra Costa: mail ballots for hospital parcel tax to go out this week," April 7, 2014
- Contra Costa County Registrar of Voters, May 6, 2014, Measure C information, accessed February 19, 2014
- Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
- League of Women Voters of California Education Fund, "Measure C, Parcel Tax for Medical Services, West Contra Costa Healthcare District," accessed April 7, 2014
- Keep Our ER Open website, accessed April 7, 2014
- Contra Costa Times, "San Pablo: Despite money backing Measure C campaign to save Doctors Medical Center, outcome still in doubt," April 10, 2014
- Contra Costa Times, "Contra Costa Times editorial: Exorbitant West Contra Costa hospital tax won't solve the problem," February 4, 2014, archived April 7, 2014