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Rice Board to ask commission for increase in term limits

WILLMAR -- The Rice Memorial Hospital Board will ask the Willmar Charter Commission to lengthen hospital board terms, allowing members to serve up to four three-year terms.

They'll also request that board members be allowed to serve out a current term if they move outside the city limits -- something the charter doesn't currently permit.

Hospital board members approved the two recommendations on Wednesday. They'll be submitted in writing to the Charter Commission, which plans to meet with the hospital board in the next few weeks. Board members see it as a priority to extend the term limits.

"If we're going to only submit one item, that would be the item," said Wayne Larson, board chairman.

Right now, board members for the city-owned hospital can only serve two three-year terms, or a maximum of six years.

That's not long enough for board members to grasp the complexities of overseeing a health organization with an annual budget of more than $90 million, David Anfinson said.

"There is a great deal of homework here to really get up to speed," he said.

The hospital board had originally contemplated recommending three three-year terms, but upped this on Wednesday to four terms. Larson said it's becoming increasingly common for hospital boards to allow terms of up to 10 or 12 years.

Rice board members also will ask the Charter Commission to allow a board member to finish a term if he or she moves outside the city limits. With the exception of the physician representative, hospital board members must be city residents in order to be appointed by the mayor to the board.

Instances of someone resigning from the board because of a move have been relatively rare. But in 2004 two members left for this reason, resulting in a board with a majority of less than a year's experience.

"I don't think it served the hospital," board member Richard Engan said.