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New Wishard gets overwhelming approval in referendum

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Supporters of a new hospital for Wishard Health Services declared victory Tuesday night after voters overwhelmingly backed the $754 million project in a special election.

With more than 50 percent of precincts reporting results as of early Wednesday morning, 83 percent of voters had approved the referendum backing the project. More than 40,000 votes had been counted.

Typically, taxpayers vote on such referenda when city leaders want to raise taxes to fund a new project. That’s not the case for Wishard, which has advanced a plan to pay for the new hospital with no tax increase. Wishard wants taxpayers to guarantee bonds it plans to sell so it can get much lower interest rates for the project.

Wishard parent organization Health and Hospital Corp. of Marion County wants to sell $703 million in bonds to replace the aging complex at 10th Street and University Boulevard. The hospital corporation already has saved $150 million to apply toward the $754 million project, and it hopes to raise another $50 million from donors.

“I know of no other public project in the history of our state where a public entity has been able to save $150 million as a down payment of a project,” said Health and Hospital Corp. CEO Matt Gutwein before the election.

Gutwein was joined by Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard in proclaiming victory in the special election Tuesday night even before half the vote was tallied.

"These referendum results confirm our city’s commitment to ensuring that all our residents have access to high quality health care,” Gutwein said in a written statement. "A historic coalition came together to support Wishard. We are deeply appreciative of their leadership in supporting this project, and to the voters, who offered the most resounding confirmation with each of their sacred ballots, we offer heartfelt thanks.”

Ballard said the referendum results meant thousands of jobs would be retained and created.

“While the focus has been on the care and teaching that Wishard provides, it’s important to note that the construction of the new hospital will create more than 4,400 jobs, maybe more over the course of the project,” said Ballard. “This means new work for many of our hard-working citizens who will put their training and expertise into building this great new facility.”

Gutwein has made more than 200 presentations in the last few months—including talks at four churches last Sunday—arguing that Wishard officials have built in such a large cushion for error, that the hospital will never have to fall back on taxpayers for help.

Selling the bonds now would take advantage of historically low interest rates, saving Wishard hundreds of millions of dollars, Gutwein estimates.

Wishard estimates its annual debt payments for the new hospital will be at least $38 million a year for 30 years. That’s 10 times higher than it currently spend on debt payments. But Gutwein noted that the higher payments still amount to only 4.25 percent of the hospital corporation’s budget.

Gutwein said his staff is ready to move immediately to launch the bond sale and start construction work on the new hospital site, which will rest between the Veteran’s Affairs hospital and the IUPUI campus, roughly on the site of the former Larue-Carter mental hospital.

Without an election victory, Gutwein said, “the most probable outcome would be that we would be required eventually to close Wishard.”

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  • Job
    My name is Jeff and I am interested in a job building the new Wishard hospital, whom can I contact to apply ?
    Thank you for you help.
    Jeff
    317 717 0758
  • deferred taxes
    Where will the money eventually come from to pay back the nearly $1 billion "New Wishard" price tag to bond holders? Tax payers. If Wishard were solvent they would be able to fund their own upgrades. They will continue on as they have in the past and taxpayers will pay as the bonds come due. People are morons.
  • HOORAY
    YAY!!!

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  1. "bike lanes, specialized lighting, decorative signage, public art, grass medians, trees and rain gardens" These are all nice things to have, but can we freaking get the hundreds of potholes all over the city fixed first?!?!?!!?!?!

  2. When a criminal with multiple prior convictions serves five days of a one year sentence and later kills a police officer with a weapon illegally in his posession, residents of Boone County need to pay a tax to drive to work... PERFECT Progressive logic.. If, on the other hand, a fund were to be set up to build more prisons and hire more guards to keep the known criminals off the streets, I'd be the first to contribute.

  3. Not a word about how much the taxpayers will be ripped off on this deal. Crime spirals out of control and the the social problems that cause it go unheeded by an administration that does not give a rats behind about the welfare of our citizens. There is no money for police or plowing snow (remember last winter) or or or or, but spend on a sports complex, and the cash flows out of the taxpayers pockets. This city is SICK

  4. Sounds like a competitor just wanted to cause a problem. I would think as long as they are not "selling" the alcohol to the residents it is no different than if I serve wine to dinner guests. With all the violent crime happening I would think they should turn their attention to real criminals. Let these older residents enjoy what pleasures they can. Then again those boozed up residents may pose a danger to society.

  5. Where did the money go from the 2007 Income tax increase for public safety that the Mayor used to stir opposition and win the election and then failed to repeal (although he promised he would when he was running for election)? Where did the money go from the water utility sale? Where did the money go from the parking meter deal? Why does the money have all these funds for TIF deals and redevelopment of Mass avenue, and subsidy for luxury high rises, parking garages in Broad Ripple, and granola chain grocery stores but can not find the money to take care of public safety. Commuters shouldn't have to pay the tax of failed leadership in Marion County by leaders that commuters have no say in electing. Taxation without representation.

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