Group Starts Push to Pass Hospital Tax - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Group Starts Push to Pass Hospital Tax

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KENNEWICK, Wash.- A citizens group is ready to fight for a proposed tax increase to fund a new Kennewick General Hospital.

If you live in the hospital's district, that's Kennewick or south Richland, you would pay $42 a year per $100,000 of assessed value on your home.

This was the group's first formal announcement, but they say they've been anticipating this for months.

They're called Citizens for Quality Healthcare and they say getting a new KGH built at Southridge is about more than just healthcare.

"It was 55 years ago that right over there my dad and a group of dedicated physicians and community leaders met with a vision and an empty field, and their vision was that we are going to build a hospital and that's the declaration they made to the world," said Lelend Kerr, a member of the group.

That's the same vision Citizens for Quality Healthcare has today.

"Knock on the doors, ring the doorbells, posting signs, spreading the message, getting the word out campaign," Kerr said.

That fight hopes to build a new $128 million hospital, but it's more than health care that the committee says will benefit from a new KGH.

Lee Boman is on that committee.  He also lives in the controversial area of south Richland that asked to be de-annexed from KGH.  He says the economy should flourish.

"How good are the schools, how good is the healthcare? the two questions most often heard by families deciding whether to live, make a move to Tri-Cities," he said.

Despite arguments from many south Richland residents that they shouldn't have to pay the tax at all, others simply don't know why people are so up in arms.

"I don't think that's gonna be too bad for a year.  You know, I think we all need a better hospital for KGH," said Roxann Hallford.

Others we talked to were simply tired of more and more taxes.

 The citizens committe sees it differently.

"With three hospitals in Tri-Cities we have a competitive advantage over a lot of markets, and strengthening one of those three hospitals will strengthen our whole community," said Boman.

Many wonder why they'll have to pay even if they don't live in Kennewick.

The hospital district isn't associated with the City, kind of like the way both Richland and West Richland residents are part of the Richland School District and the only people who'll vote on this are those who would pay it.

Meaning the people living in that KGH district.