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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. By the way, the right to work law is intended to prevent forced union membership, not as a way to keep workers in bondage as you make it sound, Italiano. If union leadership would spend all of their funding on the workers, who they are supposed to be representing, instead of trying to buy political favor and living lavish lifestyles as a result of the forced membership, this law would never had been necessary.

  2. Unions once served a noble purpose before greed and apathy took over. Now most unions are just as bad or even worse than the ills they sought to correct. I don't believe I have seen a positive comment posted by you. If you don't like the way things are done here, why do you live here? It would seem a more liberal environment like New York or California would suit you better?

  3. just to clear it up... Straight No Chaser is an a capella group that formed at IU. They've toured nationally typically doing a capella arangements of everything from Old Songbook Standards to current hits on the radio.

  4. This surprises you? Mayor Marine pulled the same crap whenhe levered the assets of the water co up by half a billion $$$ then he created his GRAFTER PROGRAM called REBUILDINDY. That program did not do anything for the Ratepayors Water Infrastructure Assets except encumber them and FORCE invitable higher water and sewer rates on Ratepayors to cover debt coverage on the dough he stole FROM THE PUBLIC TRUST. The guy is morally bankrupt to the average taxpayer and Ratepayor.

  5. There is no developer on the planet that isn't aware of what their subcontractors are doing (or not doing). They hire construction superintendents. They have architects and engineers on site to observe construction progress. If your subcontractor wasn't doing their job, you fire them and find someone who will. If people wonder why more condos aren't being built, developers like Kosene & Kosene are the reason. I am glad the residents were on the winning end after a long battle.

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