Did you know that Bonner County has a hospital district?
Did you know that we pay property taxes to support the hospital district just like we pay taxes to support the school district? The hospital district (comprised of seven elected members) makes decisions regarding the expenditure of tax dollars providing health care services to citizens in our county who do not have adequate health care insurance of their own. Sadly, this would include too many of us.
Did you know that six of the seven members of the hospital district also serve on the board of Bonner General Health? You might ask: So what? Bonner General Health is a private corporation with its own agenda and finances. And even if we assume that the agenda of the hospital (and its board) are honorable, we can also fairly assume that the agenda of the public hospital district may not line up exactly with the agenda of the private hospital. Public agendas and private agendas do not always satisfy the same priorities. By way of example, let us consider a private Christian school which we will assume is an excellent school. Would you want the board (leadership) of the private Christian school to be in charge of spending our tax dollars allocated to the public schools? The stewardship of spending tax dollars should be kept at arm’s length from a private organization regardless of the motives of the organization in question.
In three months, Bonner County will hold elections to choose a new member of the hospital district. As you examine the roster of candidates running for the hospital district board, you may not know much (if anything) about the individuals running for the position. However, you might want to know if the candidate also sits on the board of Bonner General Health. In order to avoid a potential conflict of interest, the majority of the members of the hospital district board (elected by you) should not also sit on the board of the local private hospital (not elected by you).
Let me be very clear. I am not impugning the motives or moral character of any of the individuals of the hospital district board or Bonner General Health board. I am, however, suggesting that in order best to serve the interest of the taxpayers we should elect hospital district board members who are truly independent of the local private hospital.
THOMAS FLETCHER, M.D., FACR