Wishard Health Services last week unveiled its proposal to ask Marion County voters in November to approve up to $704 million of bonds to fund construction of a new $754 million hospital campus to replace aging facilities.

The 1.2 million-square-foot complex would be built on the Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis campus on land owned by Indiana University. The university would take over the hospital’s current site for expansion of its own facilities. The new complex would include a 303-bed hospital, outpatient clinic building, power plant, parking garage and facilities for medical education and research.

More than 25% of Wishard’s buildings were built before World War II and are 69 to 95 years old, while 60% were built before 1970.

Officials are hoping to sway voters with the argument that the borrowing won’t require a tax hike. They expect to issue no more than $612 million and would contribute $150 million in cash toward the overall funding. Officials expect to tap the federal government’s taxable Build America Bond program.

“Wishard has developed most probable, best- and worst-case scenarios on the cost of a new Wishard,” said Matthew R. Gutwein, president of the Marion County Health and Hospital Corp. “Even under the highly unlikely worst-case scenario, Wishard has adequate revenue to meet all bond obligations with no property tax increase.”

Wishard receives $24.9 million annually from local property taxes to help offset the cost of care to the indigent and underserved. Other funding resources for the project include federal revenue and reimbursements, and private donations. Property taxes comprise 5.4 % of Wishard’s $486.4 million budget.

Wishard is one of the five largest safety-net health care systems in the country, with more than 1.2 million outpatient visits per year. It provides 64% of all the indigent inpatient care in Marion County.

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