Tarmo Hannula/The Pajaronian Watsonville Hospital's emergency department is one of the places the Measure N revenue will go toward.

After months of work promoting Measure N—efforts that included going door to door in the vast Pajaro Valley Health Care District (PVHCD)—officials can now begin to envision how they will use the $116 million to improve Watsonville Community Hospital.

But it could be several months before any work begins at Watsonville Community Hospital.

The measure passed by just over 68 percent in PVHCD, which includes Monterey and Santa Cruz counties and stretches from Aptos to northern Monterey County.

While it barely edged over the 66% supermajority required for a tax measure, supporters still see it as a victory, especially since voters faced a ballot with issues such as Measure K, the half-cent sales tax measure for the unincorporated parts of Santa Cruz County, and a property tax assessment from Pajaro Valley Fire Protection District.

“We were honored and blown away by the community to be able to say, ‘we have all of these mounting needs, but that the Health Care District and our well-being is one of the most important—if not the most important—things within our community,’’’ said PVHCD Chair Tony Nuñez. “We’re forever grateful for all the work of the volunteers, and the voters for believing in us.”

PVHCD Will ratify the vote at an upcoming meeting.

The measure is seen as a life ring for the hospital, which suffered from years of financial mismanagement, and bankruptcy, before PVHCD took over.

Since the district took over, the hospital has gone from losing $30 million per year to a balanced budget, Nuñez said, and is now starting to show profit.

“Things are pointed in the right direction,” he said.

The measure will now place $24 per $100,000 of assessed value on property tax bills for properties within the district.

The revenue will pay for upgrading the hospital’s emergency room, improving the X-ray, MRI, CT scanners and other imaging equipment and replacing and repairing roofs and HVAC systems.

First on the district’s agenda, however, will likely be the purchase of the building and property from Alabama-based Medical Properties Trust, which is currently leasing them to the hospital for $3 million per year.

“That is going to give a whole lot of breathing room for our fiscal department, and for the general operations of the district and the hospital,” Nuñez said.

But because the newly passed measure has not yet generated any revenue, PVHCD will issue the first series of bonds, which will give the district cash on hand to begin planning for upcoming projects.

The district must first establish a citizens’ oversight committee, and check all the boxes on a lengthy list of planning requirements.

The board also has to fill the seat left vacant when founding member John Friel died in March.

It is not clear when work will begin on the emergency room. 

“(The ER) is high up on the list, but we just have to figure out when that project makes sense for us to go forward with, and it could be a few years, that’s just the reality of it,” Nuñez said. “But there are other things that we can get done quickly that could make a big difference for both our financial health but also for the health of our patients.”

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General assignment reporter, covering nearly every beat. I specialize in feature stories, but equally skilled in hard and spot news. Pajaronian/Good Times/Press Banner reporter honored by CSBA. https://pajaronian.com/r-p-reporter-honored-by-csba/


  1. Well the fat lady has sung. Ok the hospital gets more tax dollars if services not improve what then? I encourage all to go to the ER and see if the service improves. We should demand transparency from hospital board members. Tell US what improvements are being made with OUR tax dollars

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