TULARE COUNTY (KFSN) --Voters within the Kaweah Delta Health Care District decidedly voted no on a bond measure that would help finance a new hospital building.
About a third of the total voters in the district turned in their Measure H ballots on Tuesday. More than 18,000 people in the district voted, and 57-percent checked no on their ballots.
"It was a steady flow all day long," said Tulare County Registrar of Voters Rita Woodward. "Sometimes a stand-alone election is better, it just depends. It could cost a little more because on the June and November ballot, the cost is spread out more. But the mail ballot, all mail ballot election is cheaper, because we don't have to man poll sites and have people out there on the ground."
But at the end of the day, it was clear Measure H had failed. Voters decided property owners within the district should not help pay for a new hospital in the form of general obligation bonds over a thirty year period.
If it had passed, the hospital said property owners in the district could expect to pay an average of $48 for every $100,000 of their property's assessed value (each year).
The new 273 bed facility must be built by 2030 to stay compliant with state earthquake standards.
"It was a disappointment of course," said Kaweah Delta Health Care District Board President Carl Anderson.
But Anderson says it wasn't a complete surprise. There have been many vocal opponents, and Anderson says many people he spoke with didn't understand that the hospital is not owned by a corporation.
He says the hospital simply doesn't have the financial resources to pay for the new half-billion dollar facility on its own. Add to that, Anderson says the cost of building it will increase by a million dollars every month. He says they have no choice but to try for another general obligation bond measure again.
"Well in the next 18 months (to) two years, we've got a lot of informing and a lot of education to do," Anderson said. "I think the first thing we need to do is do a lot of listening and find out what the public is thinking, what caused this in their minds, what was the real issue?"
It took voters three times to pass a bond measure for the original Mineral King Wing in 1965. Even though it's outdated, it won't be demolished. But right now, its replacement is in limbo, and the clock is slowly ticking.