Voters reject bid to fund Southern Inyo Hospital District
Measure J, a ballot initiative which would have substantially increased the parcel tax to support the Southern Inyo Healthcare District, appears to have been decisively defeated.
The Measure, if passed, would have helped SIHD avert a scheduled bankruptcy hearing.
The latest results of the April 10 Special Election mail-in vote available from the Inyo County Clerk’s Office showed the measure failing with 494 “Yes” votes to 424 “No” votes, far less than the required two-thirds (66 percent) plus 1 vote needed for its approval.
The final results will not be available until sometime next week to count all ballots postmarked by April 10.
County Clerk Kammi Foote told The Sheet that it is very unlikely that there are enough outstanding ballots that would change the result. 54 percent of the 1,679 registered voters (918 voters) within the hospital district had participated as of Tuesday.
The greatest factor in Measure J’s defeat appears to have been simply the regressive nature of the tax proposal itself, although the hospital district’s long-troubled financial history which has resulted in three bankruptcies also played a significant role.
If it had been approved, the measure would have doubled the parcel tax on owners of all property, value notwithstanding, meaning, owners of low-to-moderately valued property would have been taxed the same amount as those living in much more affluent areas.
The Measure would have raised the parcel tax from $150 per year to $365 per year on residential property for the next 15 years.
None of the ten voting precincts gathered the two-thirds margin that would have been required for approval.
In the Darwin-Keeler area, the vote was 12-Yes” to 51-“No.” The vote in the Olancha-Cartago area precinct was 34-“Yes” to 73-“No.” The Furnace Creek precinct, which also had the lowest percent of eligible voters participating (32.7 percent) voted 17 “Yes” to 18 “No,” while interestingly one of the two voting precincts in Independence voted 46 “Yes” to 49 “No.”
The SIHD board held a closed-door meeting on Wednesday night to discuss where to go from here.
Opponents of Measure J said that they hope everyone will come together to look at other alternatives to the hospital which would be “self-sustaining” and not incur increasing debt.