Bellingham mayor won't sign PeaceHealth tax, but it still goes into effect

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDJuly 11, 2014 

BELLINGHAM - In a symbolic gesture of support for PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center, Mayor Kelli Linville will not sign an ordinance removing a tax exemption for the religious health-care provider that was passed by City Council June 23.

Council voted 4-3 to remove the business and occupation tax exemption for nonprofit religious health-care providers, ending decades of exemption for the Catholic-affiliated hospital and its other health care services.

The ordinance still will take effect, costing PeaceHealth an estimated $1.2 million per year starting in January 2015.

While the ordinance was under consideration, Linville presented a compromise that would have asked the hospital to pay $350,000 annually to make up for revenue lost when it purchased private companies that were previously subject to the tax.

Linville said she would not sign, in part because of the uncompensated care provided to the community by the hospital, according to a city news release.

Reach Samantha Wohlfeil at 360-715-2274 or Samantha.Wohlfeil@bellinghamherald.com.

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