|Trinity Standard - Local News
Copyright 2011 - Polk County Publishing Company
TMHD approves 10% cut in property taxes
Trinity Standard -
TRINITY – Although they approved a cut in taxes when they adopted their annual budget earlier this year, the Trinity Memorial Hospital District formally cut their projected property tax income by 10 percent on Monday. During their September meeting, the TMHD board adopted the tax rate for the 2011-2012 budget year which is 10 percent less than the “effective tax rate” calculated by the Trinity County Appraisal District. The effective tax rate basically is the rate the district would need to set in order to collect the same tax income as the previous year. If property values go up, the effective rate goes down. Last year TMHD’s tax rate of 15.37 cents per $100 in assessed value generated about $623,000 in income. This year the rate needed to produce the same amount was listed as 14.54 cents. The rate that the board adopted was 13.086 cents per $100 in assessed valued, which is expected to reduce the tax income by about $62,000. “This rate is in line with what we set in our budget, isn’t it?” asked board member Carlyn Bluis. “Yes, its in line with what you agreed to previously, but you have to formally approve it now,” TMHD’s financial advisor Tommy Ramey told her. Because the hospital district’s fiscal year runs from July 1 through June 30, the district adopted their budget for the current year almost three months ago. At that time, they cut the projected tax income by 10 percent but could not officially cut the tax rate until the appraisal district had calculated the new effective tax rate. The board members have noted the cut in taxes comes while they are funding improvements to the local hospital facility. At present, construction is underway on a new 15-patient room wing, a surgical suite, new lobby/entryway, kitchen and dinning room. They also are planning to relocate the hospital’s administrative offices into space now used by the hospital’s kitchen/dinning room. The current administrative offices, conference room and lobby will be renovated into a pediatric suite, which will become a part of the attached Physician’s Clinic. During Monday’s meeting, the TMHD board went over plans for the pediatric suite prepared by East Texas Medical Center (ETMC) officials. ETMC currently operates the local hospital under a lease agreement with the TMHD board. The hospital district still owns the building and grounds. While TMHD is putting up funding for the facility improvements, it is being augmented indirectly by Medicare’s Upper Payment Limit (UPL) program. Under this program, the district contributes money into the UPL program, which is then matched at a rate of 160% by Medicare funds. The money is then turned over to ETMC to pay for indigent care services. This frees up money within the ETMC system, which is then used to pay for the building improvements. TMHD already has contributed its funds into the UPL program that will allow ETMC to remodel the administrative offices into the children’s clinic. TMHD Board Member Jim Rippey noted that while the clinic is only a couple of years old, it already needs more space. The planned pediatric suite will allow the clinic to separate the younger patients from the older ones while they are waiting for treatment. Rippey, who heads the board’s Long Range Planning Committee, also gave a report on the construction projects now underway. He noted that both the dietary wing on the south side of the hospital and the patient/surgical suite wing on the north are now running about three weeks behind schedule. The dietary wing was scheduled to be finished in December but completion will probably be in January while the rest of the current construction is now expected to come to an end in May 2012 instead of April. In other business, Hospital Administrator Warren Robicheaux reported that during July, the hospital provided $60,000 in free or reduced cost serves to 10 patients as part of its indigent and charity program. Under the indigent/charity programs, the hospital also provided $43,000 in free or reduced cost services to 11 patients during August. Under its lease with ETMC, the hospital district currently pays ETMC $25,000 per month to cover indigent care.