Trustee chokes on

May 16, 2001

deal brokered to

divert Calexico

hospital sales tax


CALEXICO — Ray Falcon choked on the word — "Moreno."

Falcon, a trustee of the Heffernan Memorial Hospital District, was talking about the agreement brokered between City Treasurer Rudolfo Moreno and the hospital district that diverts $250,000 of half-cent sales tax money from the hospital.

"It chokes me," Falcon said Tuesday during the special board district meeting.

"When all of the debts are paid off from the new bonds, we aren't going to have any funds to provide medical services with," Falcon said.


The agreement that has Falcon worked up is one of the more complicated pieces of the hospital finance restructuring puzzle, according to Eduardo "Eddie" Rivera, the district's attorney.

As per the arrangement, the hospital district will not receive $250,000 a year from the half-cent sales tax approved in 1992 by Calexico voters to provide medical care to indigent patients.

The board has received no more than $250,000 of sales tax money since 1996 as the result of an earlier agreement made with Moreno.

According to the new arrangement, the district's $1.5 million in debt will be paid off with the money raised when new hospital bonds are sold and the $250,000 a year will go to pay off the new bonds.

The bonds could be sold sometime as soon as next week to take advantage of favorable interest rates, according to Rivera.

The district couldn't pay off the debt without using money from the bond restructuring but couldn't use the bond money unless an agreement was worked out with Moreno.

Board Chairwoman Norma Apodaca told Falcon, "In a way the agreement is good because the community won't have to pay the half-cent tax anymore and the district will be out of debt."

Once the new bonds are paid off the half-cent sales tax, collected since 1993, will end.

Falcon said he agreed the setup is good but couldn't help his feelings concerning Moreno and the agreement.

"Continue choking, then," Apodaca said.

During the special meeting the board voted to advertise the empty hospital building in Southern California newspapers and continue the work of former hospital board administrative assistant Henry Legaspi in finding tenants to provide medical services in the building, which has been closed since late 1997.

Staff Writer Aaron Claverie can be reached at 337-3419.

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