Posted: July 11, 2014 12:13:21 PM PDT
Bellingham Mayor Kelli Linville has chosen not to sign the ordinance on the Business and Occupation tax exemption for nonprofit religious healthcare providers. The ordinance was passed by Bellingham City Council on June 23 and will cost St. Joseph’s Hospital an estimated $1.2 million annually starting January 1, 2015.
During the debate on the issue, the Mayor had offered a compromise that would have collected $350,000 in revenue that was previously paid by private companies that joined the PeaceHealth organization. During the public hearing on the ordinance, a majority of speakers supported the compromise.
“I’m not signing the ordinance because of the amount of uncompensated care the hospital provides for our community,” Mayor Kelli Linville said. “I fully recognize the ordinance becomes law 10 days after Council action with or without the Mayor’s signature. However, I am disappointed at the action taken by the majority of the City Council because there was a compromise available that would have achieved my goals of equity and ease of administration while removing the religious exemption and recognizing the care the hospital provides.”
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