The proposed lease of Memorial Health System got one step closer to reality with the approval of five resolutions at a special meeting of the Colorado Springs City Council.
While several city council members were evacuated due to the Waldo Canyon fire, the Council had to pass the ballot language no later than today in order to have the election Aug. 28.
Voters will decide whether to lease Memorial to UCH for a period of 40 years, in exchange for a $5.6 million lease payment and an upfront payment of $385 million to handle retirement pension issues. The city will also receive $330 million in cash to pay off Memorial’s debts and bonds.
The council not only approved final ballot language, but it also approved sequestering the funds from the proceeds of the lease in order to pay the retirement pension obligations, pay off all Memorial’s debt and use the remainder of the money – including annual lease payments of $5.6 million – to create a foundation dedicated to health care.
Community leaders spoke in favor of the proposal, including Joe Raso, head of the Greater Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce and EDC, and Linda Weiss, executive director of the Colorado Springs Conservatory.
Raso said he lived in Iowa City when massive flooding essentially shut down the city.
“However, the leaders didn’t stop making decisions for the future – and neither are you,” he said. “That’s important, to keep moving forward.”
Weiss thanked the city leaders for their insight during the process, telling them they’ve made a decision that will affect “young souls” for years to come.
It also passed resolutions authorizing Mayor Steve Bach to choose the nine member board of the new foundation with City Council officially appointing the members.
Councilor Bernie Herpin said the foundation would have a function much like El Pomar, awarding grants to health and wellness programs in Memorial’s service areas.
While the resolutions were overshadowed by concerns about the Waldo Canyon fire, the votes today ended about two-and-half years of work concerning the future of Memorial. The Council issued requests for proposals last year, and chose UCH to lead the hospital in January. The lease agreements were nailed down during six months of negotiation.
The next step is leading the campaign to have voters decide the ballot initiative. Colorado Attorney General John Suthers also has to approve the lease agreement before it goes to voters.
To read the resolutions, click here: www.springsgov.com