Grand Marais hospital levy increases by $900,000 in six years
WTIP file photo

Grand Marais hospital levy increases by $900,000 in six years

The North Shore Health Board has set the levy for North Shore Hospital and Care Center at $1.7 million.

During a North Shore Health Hospital Board meeting August 24, the board voted to increase the levy from $1.5 million to $1.7 million. This is a 15 percent increase from last year. Combined, the local hospital’s levy has gone up $900,000 in six years. In 2018, for example, hospital levy was $800,000. This represents an increase of 112 percent over the past six years in the hospital’s budget. These funds are collected from Cook County property owners and taxpayers.

Hospital Administrator Kimber Wraalstad said the steady increase in the hospital’s budget is attributed to expenses required to make the local healthcare facility function, particularly supplies, employee salaries, and costs for services.  Additional costs for physician services following a change with Sawtooth Mountain Clinic and the hospital contributed to the levy increase this year, she added.

Wraalstad previously said salaries and wages account for 50 percent of operating expenses at the hospital. Meanwhile, as salaries and other costs of services continue to go up, reimbursement from insurance and government programs specific to healthcare coverage are not, according to Wraalstad.

“Healthcare is having a really challenging financial time right now,” she said.

During a recent interview with WTIP about the hospital’s budget, Wraalstad referenced the fact the hospital levy has routinely had a zero-percent increase year-to-year, with large spikes in between. Here is a timeline of the levy increases from 2011 to 2024:

2011 $800,000   Percent Increase 0.0%

2012 $800,000   Percent Increase 0.0%

2013 $800,000   Percent Increase 0.0%

2014 $800,000   Percent Increase 0.0%

2015 $800,000   Percent Increase 0.0%

2016 $800,000   Percent Increase 0.0%

2017 $800,000   Percent Increase 0.0%

2018 $800,000   Percent Increase 0.0%

2019 $1,100,000  Percent Increase 37.5%

2020 $1,300,000  Percent Increase 18.2%

2021 $1,300,000  Percent Increase 0.0%

2022 $1,300,000  Percent Increase 0.0%

2023 $1,500,000  Percent Increase 15.4%

2024 $1,725,000  Percent Increase 15%

WTIP’s Joe Friedrichs spoke with Wraalstad about the levy increase and other news from the hospital in Grand Marais. Audio below.