|Trinity Standard - Local News
Copyright 2011 - Polk County Publishing Company
10% budget cut okayed by TMHD
Trinity Standard -
TRINITY – Although it considered only a 5 percent budget reduction this year, the Trinity Memorial Hospital District’s board voted Monday night to reduce it’s new spending plan by 10 percent. The action came following a budget hearing at which no member of the public appeared to speak. The TMHD board also cut spending last year and had promised at least a 10 percent cut in its tax rate this year. Last year’s cut lowered the hospital districts tax rate from the previous 18.32 cents per $100 in assessed value down to the current level of 15.37 cents. While action taken Monday only directly impacts the TMHD budget, the district’s financial advisor, CPA Tom Ramey of Trinity, noted the actual cut in the tax rate probably would exceed 10 percent. He noted that the Trinity County Appraisal District has notified TMHD that its taxable values are expected to increase by $13 million this year, which would mean that the “effective tax rate” for the district should be down from the current 15.37 cents. The effective rate essentially is the amount the district would have to set in order to collect the same amount of income as the year before. As taxable values increase, the effective rate comes down. Ramey noted the appraisal district has not yet completed work on the tax roll and will not publish the district’s effective rate until later this summer. “When they do come out with our effective rate, I will calculate the adjustments to conform with the new, lower budget,” he told the board. Under the TMHD budget, which goes into effect on July 1, the board listed tax revenue of $558,000, down from $638,500. Total revenue for the coming year is listed at $576,500. Operating expenses are listed as $300,000 for indigent care payments to East Texas Medical Center; $55,550 in tax collection fees to the Trinity/Groveton Consolidated Tax Office; $40,568 in fees to the Trinity County Appraisal District; $45,000 in professional fees (including audit, accountant, attorney and security expenses); $5,000 in election expenses; $4,500 for insurance; and $1,500 for office expenses. Total expenses for the coming year are listed at $452,118, which would give TMHD income in excess of expenses totaling $124,382. The board had considered limiting this year’s budget reduction to 5 percent and then following with another 5 percent next year but rejected that plan in favor of an immediate 10 percent cut. Board member Carlyn Bluis, who chairs TMHD’s budget committee, recommended the 10 percent cut, noting it was more in keeping with the promise the board made last year. Appraisal report During the meeting, Chief Appraiser Susan McKinley gave the board an update on appraisal district activity. She noted that while TMHD would lose about $4 million in taxable value due to state mandated reductions in timber assessments, it would more than make up for that loss from increased property appraisals. Although the reappraisal process is still going, McKinley said the district is now projecting an overall increase in TMHD values of $13 million. After adjustments including appeals and exemptions, she said she expects the hospital district would have about $10 million more in property to tax during the coming year. She noted that the higher appraised values being placed to area property is also being mandated by the state, which has indicated it feels the current values are too low. When the current round of reappraisals is completed, McKinley said the TMHD values should be within 91-95 percent of market values. “Everyone says property is not selling but that’s not what is actually happening,” she told the board. She noted data on sales is constantly coming into her office, noting that recently 200 acres of lakefront property recently sold for $1 million. She added that was the second $1 million land transaction in the county in the past 18 months. “There are people out there who are paying $400,000 for a water-front lot and then building a half million dollar home on it,” she said. Such action causes the value of similar property to go up. Other business During the meeting, the board: • Voted to keep its current slate of officers for another year, including Larry King as president, Dave Ward as vice president and Bluis as secretary. • Received a report on the ongoing construction at the hospital from board member Jim Rippey. He noted that the new kitchen/dinning room area on the south side of the hospital is now scheduled for completion by the end of the year. The new 15-room patient wing/surgical suite/main entry way on the north side of the building is expected to be finished in May 2012. • Learned from ETMC-Trinity Administrator Warren Robicheaux that during May, the hospital provided $125,591 in free or reduced cost care to 17 patients through the indigent and charity programs. Under its contract with ETMC, the hospital district pays $25,000 a month or $300,000 per year for indigent care services. • Voted to cancel the board’s July meeting due to the number of board members who will be on vacation. The board normally meets at 5:30 p.m. on the third Monday of each month in the ETMC-Trinity conference room.