MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Early voting continues in Miami-Dade for a countywide special election in which voters are being asked to fund an overhaul of the Jackson Health System.
Monday afternoon, the CEO of Jackson Health System cast his ballot. Carlos Migoya hopes Miami-Dade voters approve his $830 million dollar proposal to update the county’s aging hospital.
“It’s the investment in the future of Jackson to make it an attractive hospital for all,” Migoya said.
The CEO was flanked by hospital staff and union leaders as he explained his aim is to make the hospital more competitive.
On its current path, paying customers, those with insurance, are not flocking to Jackson but choosing other hospitals. It leaves the hospital with the poor, often uninsured or underinsured patients, which leads to a deficit.
Despite excellent rankings of its doctors the challenge has been decades of no budget to update facilities and The University of Miami hospital is located right across the street.
Viviene Dixon-Shim with AFSCME 1363, the hospitals general employee union, put it bluntly: “If you walk over to Cedars Hospital and walk back over to Jackson then you can compare. We want to make sure that we are equipped to take any patients.”
Jackson’s wish list is extensive.
- The bond would modernize operating, emergency and patient rooms.
- A new children’s ER would be expanded to expedite emergencies.
- Up to dozen urgent care centers would be built around the county.
- Hospitals IT and medical equipment would be upgraded as well.
- Plans call for a new physical rehab facility.
While it sounds great to some, bonds can be tricky.
The Miami Marlins Ballpark cost taxpayer’s roughly $400 million dollars and after interest on the loans it really was over two billion dollars.
CBS4’s David Sutta asked Carlos Migoya what the cost would really be for the bonds.
“I don’t know about total numbers,” Migoya responded.
While it seemed odd the man pushing the deal didn’t know the true cost, the County confirmed their conservative estimates on the $830 million dollar loan will really be $1.4 billion when paid off in 30-40 years from now.
Migoya quickly pointed out this is not another stadium.
“We are taking about the public health of Miami-Dade County. That’s the difference,” he said.
The overhaul would be funded through an increase in Miami-Dade’s property taxes.
Migoya believes the average homeowner will pay an additional $15 a year to cover the upgrades. Money well spent according to him and lots of community leaders.
“Buildings, equipment, technology, anything that will be a fixed asset. It’s not for operational budget. There is no money for salaries. There is no money for any other expenses,” Migoya explained.
CBS4 News reached out to Miami-Dade Commissioner Juan Zapata on the issue but he was unavailable for comment. Commissioner Zapata is the only Miami-Dade commissioner publicly critical of the plan, calling it too expensive.
Early voting us underway until Sunday Nov. 3 and Election Day is Nov. 5.
If you are interested in learning more about the bond go to http://www.healthymiamidade.com/