On November 4th, I get to vote on El Camino Hospital District Measure D. This measure would “issue bonds in the amount of $148,000,000 for the purposes of new construction and altering, renovating and improving El Camino Hospital and related facilities.” I am, unfortunately, torn.
On one hand, I think supporting community services like hospitals is a good idea. The bond would pay for seismic upgrades to the hopsital, as well as enhanced emergency room facilities. As a long-time viewer of ER, I know how important emergency facilities are. I like the idea of El Camino Hospital getting a $150 million dollar upgrade, and as a community-funded hospital, it makes sense for the community to fund it.
On the other hand, I’m not that fond of municipal bonds. The community will end up paying for it with interest over the next five years. If I learned one thing playing SimCity years ago, it was that bonds were a bad idea: you end up spending all your tax revenue just paying off the bonds, and you have to take out more bonds to actually get anything done. Pretty soon, the city is bankrupt, an earthquake breaks out, there’s fire everywhere, and since you fired all the firemen to keep up with your interest payments, all you can do is pack up and move to Grenada.
In addition, according to the “Argument Against Measure D” in my sample ballot, the hospital doesn’t need the bond to pay for the project: It has enough cash on hand to pay for the whole thing. Further, the hospital is currently making a profit, so it could easily take out and pay off a loan itself, if it didn’t want to dip into its reserves. None of these arguments are even mentioned, let alone disputed, in the proponent’s rebuttal, which makes it hard to doubt them.
On the other hand, I definitely support the hospital’s project, and the bond will be paid for by property taxes. I don’t own any property in the district, and a minor tax increase isn’t that likely to affect my rent. So maybe I should just vote yes. Opinions?