MARTINEZ -- Contra Costa regulators urged the embattled Mt. Diablo Health Care District, whose elected board is targeted for elimination, to quickly cut a deal with the city scheduled to take over the district's small pot of money or face even more unpleasant consequences.
"Do everything you can," said Local Agency Formation Commissioner Dwight Meadows during the agency's Wednesday afternoon meeting. "One way or the other, this district will end. I can guarantee it. Let's get it resolved quickly."
The health care board must rescind within a week its vote to challenge Concord's plan to take on the agency's few duties and dollars in order to maintain a tight procedural timeline and avert a costly -- $120,000 -- scheduled election for four open health board seats in November.
The commission has jurisdiction over local government boundaries and could still initiate outright dissolution although it would take months. But there are reports of health district board candidates lining up who have vowed to shut the district down as soon as they take office.
In the meantime, the district is scheduled to meet with Concord and has tentatively set an emergency board meeting for next week where it could withdraw its objections in the event it reaches an agreement with the city. If that happens, the commission will restore its timetable and potentially complete the process before the candidate filing period closes in August for the general
Mt. Diablo Health Care District Chairman Jeff Kasper assured the commission that he and his colleagues will work diligently but noted that avoiding an "election to nowhere" was not their top priority.
Concord proposes to form a subsidiary district with Pleasant Hill and meld the property tax receipts into its existing community grant cycle with the dollars earmarked for health-related programs.
The Concord City Council would serve as its directors, replacing the existing five-member elected board. Concord and Pleasant Hill would split, 3 and 2 respectively, the health care district's seats on the $1 million a year community health fund funded by John Muir Health.
The health care district has asked for resolutions from the cities where properties inside the current district will be detached from the new subsidiary zone including Martinez, Lafayette, Clayton and Walnut Creek.
It is also seeking a transitional governance plan, and an explanation of how the city intends to enforce the district's 1996 agreement with John Muir Health to take over and operate the Concord hospital.
Voters in 1996 turned over the financially ailing public hospital to John Muir but left the elected health care board intact as a backstop in case the private nonprofit commission failed to preserve the facility originally built and operated with property tax money.
Critics have for years called for the district's dissolution, calling it a waste of public money.
Until this year when new board members sough to revive the moribund agency, the district spent the bulk of its $240,000 a year in property tax receipts on overhead, free lifetime medical benefits for one current and one former board member, legal bills and election costs.