Northwest NEWS

August 14, 2000

Front Page

Residents urge Evergreen District to put annexation on ballot

by Lisa Allen
   Valley View Editor
   DUVALL‹Residents here are underserved medically and should have access to a health care facility in town, the Evergreen Healthcare board of commissioners heard overwhelmingly at two public hearings at the public library last week. The hearings were held to determine whether the public would support a hospital district annexation if it were placed on the November 7 general election ballot.
   "Duvall is not the easiest place to get in and out of, even when all the roads are open," said Duvall Church Pastor Chet Kwiat. "The growing numbers of elderly find it difficult to leave here to seek medical attention. I visit hospitals and find that most people go to Evergreen. I think this (annexation) would be a good partnership."
   The Duvall area has been without a primary medical facility since 1998. Earlier this year, a group of local residents, who had been researching the need for a replacement facility, approached Evergreen Healthcare (Public Hospital District No. 2) to request that the district consider bringing a clinic to Duvall.
   The board agreed to research feasibility issues, including costs to taxpayers and the legal process. On June 19, the board adopted a resolution calling for an election to determine if residents wish to be annexed. However, the board must consider the input from the public hearings when it makes a final decision on the matter August 22.
   The group, which formed into the Duvall Health Care Planning Committee, says the community needs to have a high quality medical facility that offers primary and urgent care, after hours and weekend availability and diagnostic services.
   The proposed boundaries would encompass Fire District 45, plus some added area to the south, including Lake Joy. If voters approve the annexation, owners of a $200,000 house would be taxed about $78 per year or about $6.50 per month.
   Board President Rex Lindquist said the board has been researching the cost and type of medical services the area needs.
   "We learned there is a tremendous amount of pride here and compassion for neighbors," he said. "There is a need for health care and we are honored to consider the feasibility of the request."
   Longtime resident Sandy Rowe told the board she is enthusiastic about the possibility of a clinic in Duvall.
   "In winter, with the flooding, we are an island of our own," she said. "And, during ice and snow a lot of people can't drive. We also have a lot of power outages. When people get injured, they need a doctor to check them over. People have been positive about this and the only negative input I hear is from lack of knowledge‹fear of the hospital district backing out."
   Rowe said the cost of the annexation, at .39 per $1,000 valuation, is the cost of two gallons of milk per month.
   "How cheap can it be," she said. "And we wouldn't have to travel out of the area. It would be nice to have it here so we could utilize it. We are growing here, and I feel an area must grow and expand, or die. I would like to see it grow."
   Duvall businessman David Banks said he supports the annexation, saying the area is "underserved," and that a 30-minute drive to Redmond will soon turn into 45 minutes when the area east of Redmond is built out.
   "Duvall is like an iceberg," he said. "It seems small, but if you drive around, it is clear Duvall is a lot bigger that it seems."
   According to research done by Evergreen Healthcare, Duvall has a comparatively large percentage of children and families and the community is growing rapidly, at about 2.5 percent per year. In 2003 the number of households in town is projected to be 4,077.
   Regarding tax implications, the board says that because I-695 requires that tax increases be voted on, that if the value of property increases, the rate must decrease so that the total tax raised does not exceed the previous year.
   Being part of a public hospital district means that residents are shareholders of Evergreen Healthcare and also have several ongoing opportunities available, such as the Community Advisor program. Residents also elect the board of commissioners.
   Evergreen also offers home health and hospice services, along with educational and wellness programs.
   According to Ben Lindekugel, Evergreen Director of Community Relations, if the board agrees to place the issue on the ballot, volunteers are needed to write statements for the Voter's Pamphlet.
   Three people are needed for the "pro" statement, and three for the "con" statement. Those interested may call 425-899-2022.