Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Joint Commission reports less charity care will be needed

Stephen W. Bowman, Staff Attorney/Methodogist at Joint Commission on Health Care (November 3, 2010) reports that the number of uninsured and charity care need will decrease from the impact of the federal health care reform.


Thursday, January 13, 2011

Report recommends Millwood closure (NVDaily)

A consultant’s recommendation to the Winchester-Frederick County Metropolitan Planning Organization includes closing a stretch of Millwood Avenue near Shenandoah University. 

Dennis Grundman/Daily 

By J.R. Williams -- jrwilliams@nvdaily.com
January 13, 2011

WINCHESTER -- A transportation consultant has recommended closing Millwood Avenue between Jubal Early Drive and Apple Blossom Drive as the best alternative to the area's current traffic pattern.

A draft report prepared by Washington-based Gorove/Slade Associates Inc., which includes the non-binding recommendation, was released Wednesday by the Winchester-Frederick County Metropolitan Planning Organization, a regional planning body that commissioned the study.

The study is the result of a comprehensive traffic analysis, input from several public workshops and other submitted comments. Eight scenarios for the area were developed and considered, including leaving Millwood open or closing other nearby roads.

Gorove/Slade has recommended closing the Millwood Avenue stretch, constructing a right-turn lane for westbound traffic on Jubal Early at its intersection with Apple Blossom Drive and adding a traffic signal near where Lowry Drive intersects Apple Blossom.

The report says the alternative was selected because it improves safety, convenience and appearance. Improvements are estimated to cost $1.73 million.

Public comment also swayed toward that alternative, the report says.

"From the comments it was apparent that there were strong opinions among different groups and interests that participated," it says, noting the concerns of critics who said they were not well-represented.

However, "The majority of the comments from the public sessions concluded that [the selected alternative] had the most merit," it says.

Gorove/Slade also recommended additional measures to consider if the plan is implemented, including a suggested route for the Green Circle Trail and implementing updated signs. It also recommends renaming Apple Blossom, north of Jubal Early, to Millwood Avenue for continuity.

MPO officials are expected to review the draft report at two meetings scheduled for Wednesday.

The Citizens Advisory and Technical Advisory committees will meet at 8:30 a.m. in the Board of Supervisors meeting room at the Frederick County office complex, 107 N. Kent St., Winchester.

The MPO Policy Board will meet at 10 a.m. in a first-floor conference room at the same address.

After reviewing the study, the policy board will decide on the next step and whether to schedule another meeting for public comment.

Chris Price, executive director of the Northern Shenandoah Valley Regional Commission and MPO secretary, has said such a meeting is likely.

The MPO ultimately will make a recommendation based on public comment and the Gorove/Slade analysis, but final authority over the matter rests with the Winchester City Council.

The full study, including all public comment collected to date, is posted to the NSVRC website at www.nsvrc.virginia.gov. Click on "Commission News."

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

City Council votes to keep WMC tax exempt with amended ordinance

City Council voted to keep WMC campus tax exempt with an amended ordinance that will require WMC to make a payment to the city that will be $750,000 annually in lieu of be taxed.  It will be billed semi-annually and is reviewable every six years.

Kudos to the City Council for understanding that this David vs. Goliath battle would of been a heavy financial burden on the City of Winchester.

If WMC’s request for tax exemption for the campus was denied tonight, anyone could assume that an inevitable lengthy litigation process would have taken place.  A costly litigation process would have not been in the best interest of the City with its limited resources as compared to Valley Health Systems.

This agreement has ended the current litigation between VHS and the City of Winchester.

WMC and VHS’s reps must be thrilled with such agreed upon payment once one reviews would could have been.

Something to ponder, in 2009 ... WMC (not-for-profit) paid $98,896 in taxes to the City of Winchester and Lewis-Gale (for-profit) paid Salem-City $17,744,293 as it makes one wonder, was there some money left on the table?

Click here to review:
Winchester Medical Center (not-for-profit) and Lewis-Gale Medical Center (for-profit) 2009 comparison

Please note that WMC's down year in profitability for 2008 of just $9.5 million rebounded quite well in 2009 with $53.7 million.

This website: http://www.faqs.org/tax-exempt/VA/Winchester-Medical-Center.html# has profit figures that were documented for years 2000-2006 as the Winchester Medical Center had a 10yr profit total of $365.5 million during years 2000-2009.

$11,917,127 - 2000
 $4,262,944 - 2001
$25,868,766 - 2002
$35,113,921 - 2003
$46,711,931 - 2004
$54,346,679 - 2005
$57,422,789 - 2006
$66,617,961 - 2007
per IRS990
 $9,500,911 - 2008 per IRS990
$53,757,390 - 2009 per http://www.vhi.org/hospital_detail.asp?fac_numb=1934

$365,520,419 ...  Winchester Medical Center's profits 2000-2009

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Should the entire Wincheste Medical Center campus be tax exempt?

If you agree that the entire Winchester Medical Center campus should not be tax exempt, then contact and/or forward this Open Forum written by Paul Hampton onto your respective council representative.

Forward this e-mail onto your friends and neighbors who are residents within the City limits.

City Council is voting on an ordinance to deny or approve the entire WMC campus tax exempt Tuesday night, Jan. 11th at 7pm.

City Council members:

Tuesday night's agenda ... reference Pages 27-30: 

Open Forum: VH's 'community benefit'
October 23, 2010

Hospital request for tax exemption also on docket

January 8, 2011
By Vic Bradshaw

More background info on Winchester City Council's upcoming vote for an ordinance to deny or approve the entire Winchester Medical Center campus as tax exempt this Tuesday night, January 11 at 7pm in Rouss City Hall.

WMC ruled not tax-exempt
City Council votes 7-0 to authorize first-half real estate tax bill of more than $1 million

September 29, 2010
By Vic Bradshaw

58.1-3603 Exemptions not applicable when building is source of revenue

58.1-3605 Triennial application for exemption; removal by local governing body

58.1-3606 Property exempt from taxation by classification

58.1-3650 Post-1971 property exempt from taxation by designation

58.1-3651 Property exempt from taxation by classification or designation by ordinance adopted by local govern...

Burkholder: No 'qualifying exemption' met by WMC
September 30, 2010
By Ann T. Burkholder
Tax questions regarding Valley Health and/or Winchester Medical Center have comprised a significant portion of my workload over the past lively nine months as Commissioner of the Revenue.

On Jan. 27, 2010, (City Attorney) Tony Williams, staff member Tina Butler, and I visited the Wellness Center in response to Valley Health's protest of the personal property tax and business license taxes of that site. At the time, Todd Way of Valley Health also asked about the questionnaires regarding the initial triennial review of tax-exempt properties, any need to apply for exemption of the new Diagnostic Center, and options for minimizing tax discussions regarding future construction and usage charges.

Consequently, Valley Health submitted an application for real estate tax exemption for the WMC campus in February 2010, which was scheduled for review at the March 23 City Council work session. Upon seeing the recommendation of the Assessor and Commissioner of the Revenue that Valley Health be denied a blanket exemption, Valley Health then withdrew its application. By filing and subsequently withdrawing this application, Valley Health clearly demonstrated its own awareness that no clear and irrefutable tax exemption exists for the WMC campus.

Since then, the city and Valley Health have gone back and forth on the matter, accelerated by recent meetings between the two parties. In a letter dated Sept. 2, James Daniel, attorney for Valley Health, wrote, "We understand that it is not in dispute that charitable, nonprofit, Virginia hospitals are exempt by classification from local real estate and personal property tax."

I do not agree with this statement; rather, whether Valley Health/Winchester Medical Center qualifies for exemption under that section of the Code of Virginia is specifically what is in question. It is the position of this office that the entity is subject to taxation unless City Council enacts a classification or designation otherwise.

It is likely that the City of Winchester considered the original Winchester Memorial Hospital, on the Stewart Street site, and the naissent Winchester Medical Center to be tax-exempt under liberal interpretation of the language of the 1902 Virginia Constitution. While post-1971 updates to the Code of Virginia include stricter guidelines, nothing has been found which clearly establishes WMC's entitlement to tax exemption under either the current or earlier version of the Constitution.

While correspondence from prior administrations suggests that the issue was examined, by all parties' accounts, the mission and business of today's Winchester Medical Center have substantially evolved from the hospital of yore. As a result, the commissioner has little basis on which to conclude that ownership, use of the property, and, in fact, the property itself, are the same as when the exemption initially came into use.

On Sept. 23, Valley Health officials held a press conference at the Wellness Center to discuss their 2009 Community Benefit Report. As stated by the Valley Health Board Chair, the point was to show what Valley Health gives to the community in lieu of paying taxes. Of the $71.3 million in benefits claimed, over 63 percent consists of bad debt expense and Medicare Reimbursement Shortfall, both of which more accurately fall under the cost of doing business.

Valley Health avers its not-for-profit status and charitable contributions undermine any claim of ineligibility for exemption, yet neither point is relevant to the matter at hand. Not-for-profit does not automatically equate to non-taxable. Moreover, while the City of Winchester is very appreciative of the generosity and community benefits provided by Valley Health, these are not a substitute for the benefits provided by tax revenue. Here in the city, we are blessed with many citizens and businesses that willingly donate goods, money, and services to designated charities, yet also pay their fair share of local taxes for the common good.

Assisted by the City Attorney, City Assessor, and my staff, I have reviewed applicable state and local code, local records of council action, numerous legal opinions and proceedings, and information provided by Valley Health. Considerations in evaluating tax-exempt status have included:

Categories of taxation, to include real estate, gross receipts business license and personal property taxes.

Usage of real property, including undeveloped land, property leased to outside entities, and property used for personal and professional services.

Variety of business units operating under Valley Health, including traditional hospital functions, as well as those in direct competition with fully taxable entities, such as the Wellness Center and physician office practices under Valley Physician Enterprise.

Fair and equitable distribution of local taxpaying responsibility, recognizing that Valley Health will continue to expand its vision, mission, and revenue stream.

The role of Valley Health as a valuable community partner.

At this point, my findings indicate the property and activities of the WMC Campus do not meet any qualifying exemption by classification or by designation and thus are taxable. Within the next two weeks, absent compelling evidence to the contrary, my office will begin preparing the current year real estate tax bills for the WMC Campus and will proceed with other applicable billings.

Ann T. Burkholder is commissioner of the revenue for the City of Winchester.

WMC had a profit total of $311.7 million for years 2000-2008
This website: http://www.faqs.org/tax-exempt/VA/Winchester-Medical-Center.html# has profit figures that were documented for years 2000-2004 as the Winchester Medical Center had a 9yr profit total of $311.7 million during years 2000-2008.

VHS serves 18 counties to be exact in VA, MD and WV. 
Is it fair to the citizens of Winchester for Valley Health System to take millions and millions of dollars made locally tax free to reinvest across state lines?  

VHS is basically constructing on average $30 million dollar mini hub hospitals in Berkeley Springs WV, Romney WV and Page County.

Valley Health's statement on the regional communities that it serves:

WMC provides a range of services for its communities which includes clinics and support programs.

All of these items give patients access to leading edge technology and state of the art service, and to experience high quality patient care that is close to where they live.

These activities are overseen by WMC's BOD's, comprised mainly of independent community members.

The population has increased from the previous year from 951,209 to 959,447 in 2008.

The female population for 2007 was 479,624 and the male population was 471,585 in 2007.

The population numbers for 2008 show that females increased to 483,523 and the male population increased to 475,924 for 2008.

The regional community that VH serves is widely diverse.  The regional community racial ethnic breakdown in the communities served by VH is as follows: 84.2% White, 4.8% Black, 1.7% Asian, 1.5% Multiracial, 1.2% other, 0.2% Native American and 3.3% Hispanic for 2008.

The total population per race or ethnicity increased significantly from 2007.  Give the general location of facilities, WMC serves several migrant worker communities during harvesting of crops for the local farmers.

There is also an aging population that WMC serves with several of its communities.  As the baby boomers grow older, more and more medical care will be needed and provided by WMC.

Where are the Readers of the The Pub coming from and how long are they staying?

Google Analytics reports that since November of 2008, the readers of The Pub are spending on average of 4 minutes and 47 seconds per visit that includes on average of 2.39 pages viewed.  A total of 17,593 pages have been viewed.

There have been a total of 453 different service providers/networks as of 1/9/2011 where the readers derive from.  Click on this document to see the breakdown of what networks/service providers are producing the most consistent readers ... Google Analytics : The Pibbsters Pub as of 1/9/2011

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Review of Millwood Avenue closure plan near completion (NVDaily)

By J.R. Williams -- jrwilliams@nvdaily.com
December 31, 2010

WINCHESTER -- The Winchester-Frederick County Metropolitan Planning Organization is completing its review of a draft analysis on the closure of a stretch of Millwood Avenue near Shenandoah University.

The study, contracted to Gainesville-based engineering firm Gorove/Slade Associates Inc., is expected to include summaries of public comment, the study process to date and data gathered on the proposal.

The draft likely will be made available next week, said Chris Price, MPO secretary and executive director of the Northern Shenandoah Valley Regional Commission.

Although the consultant may indicate a preferred alternative in the draft study, the MPO ultimately will make a recommendation.

A final decision on the proposal rests with the Winchester City Council.

"We're moving toward recommendations, but we're not going to come out with an official recommendation until after we go through another round of public comment," Price said.

A public comment meeting on the draft likely will be scheduled in mid-January, although a date has not yet been set, he said.

The MPO commissioned the study earlier this year to examine closing Millwood between Jubal Early Drive and Apple Blossom Drive and adding a right-turn lane for westbound traffic on Jubal Early at its intersection with Apple Blossom Drive.

Working groups studied alternatives for the intersection at previous public meetings.

Among the options explored were building a pedestrian bridge over Millwood, closing Apple Blossom Drive or closing Jubal Early between Millwood and Apple Blossom.

Closure of Millwood and adding the turn lane at Jubal Early is estimated to cost about $1.5 million, according to Gorove/Slade materials. That option would improve safety at the intersection, correct an awkward traffic pattern and improve aesthetics, the materials say.

Meanwhile, a local businessman who opposes the closure has gathered more than 500 signatures on a petition since introducing it about six weeks ago.

Mike Brill, owner and manager of the Midas auto repair shop at 824 S. Loudoun St., said Thursday the signatures are only from visitors to his business. A wooden sign at the edge of the shop's parking lot, at the corner of Loudoun and Gerrard streets, directs people inside.

If the stretch of Millwood Avenue is closed, Brill said, "that traffic is going to keep going to the left. It's not going to come back downtown.

"My business depends on traffic flow. ... They're hurting downtown businesses. We just went through a year of construction."

Brill said he eventually will turn over the petition to the City Council.

MPO Technical Advisory Committee and Policy Board meetings are scheduled for Jan. 19 at 8:30 a.m. and 10 a.m.