Assembly delays South Peninsula Hospital special election decision

Posted: Friday, January 05, 2007

The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly on Tuesday delayed final approval of an ordinance authorizing a special election later this year that will ask South Peninsula Hospital Service Area voters to OK up to $16 million in bonds to complete the hospital expansion project.

The assembly is expected to adopt the ordinance at its Jan. 16 meeting, setting an election date of May 8. Borough Mayor John Williams requested the short delay and asked the assembly to set a second public hearing on Jan. 16 after being presented earlier in the day with new cost estimates for Phase II of the project. Williams said he needed the extra time to prepare a substitute ordinance reflecting the new estimates and to give the hospital’s service area board a chance to review and prioritize the list of additive alternates — portions of the overall project that would be done if money remains after the costs of essential construction elements are covered.

The added time also would afford voters a chance to evaluate the cost statement information and provide additional comment to the administration and assembly.

The latest estimates predict the project would cost just under $15.6 million, but that the base construction would come in at around $13.9 million, leaving about $1.7 for additive alternates, which could included such things as a rooftop helipad, relocation of pre-op, a lab and the pharmacy, remodel of a surgery suite, a second elevator, and other items.

The assembly agreed to the delay, but before doing so, they passed an amendment to use $30,000 of service area funds to pay for the spring special election. Assembly member Grace Merkes, of Sterling, proposed the amendment.

Unavoidable delays, demands for building materials caused by hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and growing demand for concrete in China and India, all combined to cause a rapid escalation in the cost of materials. Those factors contributed to the necessity of building the project in parts, and to the need for more money, said service area board chair David Green.

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