Cook County - North Shore Hospital adopts zero percent levy increase

On Thursday, Dec. 19, community member Lloyd Speck appealed to the Cook County North Shore Hospital board to keep its levy as low as possible. The hospital board was preparing to finalize its levy for 2014.  The 2013 levy was $800,000, but the preliminary levy left the board room to set a levy as high as $1.5 million.

If the hospital requires a levy to stay out of the red, Speck asked, how can the community afford a hospital renovation? Speck recommended that board members look at a potential renovation as if it were their own business venture and that they ask, “Who needs it?  Who will benefit from it?  Who pays for it?”

Speck said he would like to see the legislature authorize another 1 percent hospital sales tax.

Hospital board chair Tom Spence said the board has many of the same concerns. He said they would be meeting in January to discuss potential funding mechanisms for the renovation project.

Spence advocated for reducing the levy even lower than 2013’s $800,000 and setting no levy as a goal for the future.  He said he wanted “to try and send a message that we get it.” 

Board member Howard Abrahamson said he didn’t think that was achievable, since significantly increasing business and reducing expenses are not within their power.

Board member Justin Mueller agreed that it might not be achievable, but it might be good to move in that direction.

Hospital Administrator Kimber Wraalstad said, “If you want to keep the Care Center, then that levy issue is just going to keep sitting there.” 

Hospital Board member Kay Olson said she had been asking constituents what they want.  “Overwhelmingly, people want the Care Center,” she said.

Spence said that reducing the levy would indicate “at least we’re trying.”

After much discussion, the board passed a motion to keep the levy at $800,000 for 2014.