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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. If what you stated is true, then this article is entirely inaccurate. "State sells bonds" is same as "State borrows money". Supposedly the company will "pay for them". But since we are paying the company, we are still paying for this road with borrowed money, even though the state has $2 billion in the bank.

  2. Andrew hit the nail on the head. AMTRAK provides terrible service and that is why the state has found a contractor to improve the service. More trips, on-time performance, better times, cleanliness and adequate or better restrooms. WI-FI and food service will also be provided. Transit from outlying areas will also be provided. I wouldn't take it the way it is but with the above services and marketing of the service,ridership will improve and more folks will explore Indy and may even want to move here.

  3. They could take the property using eminent domain and save money by not paying the church or building a soccer field and a new driveway. Ctrwd has monthly meetings open to all customers of the district. The meetings are listed and if the customers really cared that much they would show. Ctrwd works hard in every way they can to make sure the customer is put first. Overflows damage the surrounding environment and cost a lot of money every year. There have been many upgrades done through the years to help not send flow to Carmel. Even with the upgrades ctrwd cannot always keep up. I understand how a storage tank could be an eye sore, but has anyone thought to look at other lift stations or storage tanks. Most lift stations are right in the middle of neighborhoods. Some close to schools and soccer fields, and some right in back yards, or at least next to a back yard. We all have to work together to come up with a proper solution. The proposed solution by ctrwd is the best one offered so far.

  4. Fox has comments from several people that seem to have some inside information. I would refer to their website. Changed my whole opionion of this story.

  5. This place is great! I'm piggy backing and saying the Cobb salad is great. But the ribs are awesome. $6.49 for ribs and 2 sides?! They're delicious. If you work downtown, head over there.

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