The long conversation about how to improve health standards in the eastern Coachella Valley is getting somewhere.
For over a decade, valley leaders have floated the idea of expanding the west valley's Desert Healthcare District into towns and neighborhoods to the east. The creation of a new east-only district was also considered, but one valleywide district now appears to be the optimal choice of local, state and federal leaders.
State Assemblyman Eduardo Garcia, a Coachella Democrat, is pushing a plan to quickly get legislation passed in Sacramento calling for a study examining new district boundaries and their funding implications. If a series of fast-approaching deadlines is met, voters could decide on the expansion this November at the same time they choose a president and a slew of other offices and ballot measures.
The district's present boundaries surround 457 square miles from west of Desert Hot Springs to Cook Street in Palm Desert. A larger district could extend as far east as the community of North Shore along the Salton Sea, bringing in eastern Palm Desert, Indian Wells, La Quinta, Indio, Coachella and surrounding unincorporated areas.
During a meeting at the Desert Healthcare District's offices in Palm Springs, with the district's elected board, Garcia said Thursday that his preferred plan would not lead to more taxes for residents brought into the district. Instead, their existing tax payments would be redistributed to send a portion to the health care district.
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