To build or not to build—that is the question

This has not been just a willy-nilly process by the board. They have devoted a great deal of time to the effort.

If you were going to buy a new car, which one would you want: The first car is a brand new one, with all the latest technology and innovation; gets great gas mileage; and drives like a dream. The second car has a brand new engine, new transmission and new upholstery,  but the body’s dinged up and it already has 275,000 miles on it.
    And to top it off, the second car is going to cost you $5,000 more than the new car. Realistically, which one would you pick? Unless you had a great liking of the model of the car that was “remodeled,” I’m guessing that most all of you would pick the new car.
    Now, let’s shift the scenario to all of the people in Chase County  who will be asked to make a much bigger decision together—a decision that will have far more reaching impact than buying a car.
    Members of the Chase County Community Hospital board of trustees have been studying the various options for the hospital facility itself for several years.
    They have weighed the option of remodeling and adding on to the existing facility or striking out and building an entirely new facility—one with the latest technology and gets great gas mileage, so to speak.
    This has not been just a willy-nilly process by the board. They have devoted a great deal of time to the effort. They hired a hospital building consultant to inspect the current facility to determine the cost for a remodel/add-on project versus an entirely new facility.
    It was somewhat close, if you consider $2 million on a $20 million project close.
    The study showed that Chase County could invest around $20 million in a brand new facility; or, spend around $22 million to remodel the existing facility and add on. As the saying goes—you can put lipstick on a pig but it’s still a pig.
    I’ve heard people question why can’t we just remodel our current facility, or just make do with what we have—an even worse decision.
    When people consider whether they want to move somewhere, two factors are at the top of the list—school and hospital. We have a fine school facility that voters approved more than 20 years ago. Now it’s time to make the same decision about our hospital.
    But the board now finds themselves in a quandary. To get a true cost on the hospital in the design-build process, architects have to complete drawings, then they have to develop construction plans and then cost out what the entire project will cost.
    To get that completed before a bond issue would cost an estimated $1.3 million. That’s all well and good if the bond issue passes. But if it doesn’t, the hospital board is stuck with a $1.3 million bill.
    The county commissioners initially gave the hospital board the go-ahead and that they would back them up. Then, this week, they weren’t so sure about the idea and backed off.
    As a result, the hospital board will likely go to the people for a bond election in the May Primary, instead of waiting until the General Election in November.
    They realize that it will be hard to pull the trigger on a estimated $20 million bond issue with no plans, no specs and unfortunately no fixed cost. But they need to know where the people stand.
    The design-build firm chosen by the hospital will guarantee a price not to exceed “X.” But the only way they can do that is to incur the costs to complete the first phase of design and cost estimating—can’t do one without the other.
    The fate of our hospital rests in the hands of the voters in Chase County. The board has done its due diligence on the project and they’re taxpayers just like you. They have determined a new facility is the best way to move Chase County forward.
    Remember—if you’re not moving forward, you’re going backward. It’s time to move forward with an investment in our hospital that will serve no less than my generation and the next.

The Imperial Republican

308-882-4453 (Phone)

308-882-5167 (Fax)

622 Broadway St

PO Box 727

Imperial, NE 69033