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August 28, 2012

Hospital district tax rate bumped down

WEATHERFORD —  

The Parker County Hospital District Board of Directors approved a tenth-of-a-cent decrease in the tax rate Thursday and a budget that includes adding an ambulance station in the western portion of the county. 

The adopted rate - just a hair above the effective tax rate of 11.1967 cents per $100 valuation, the rate at which the same properties taxed the previous year would bring in the same amount - is expected to bring in more than $10.1 million in revenue based on current certified tax appraisal roll values. 

The hospital district currently funds programs such as LifeCare, Campbell Clinic, an indigent medical assistance program, immunizations, flu shots and other community outreach programs. 

Since Community Health Systems entered a 30-year lease in 2006 with the district to operate the hospital, the district has made significant facility improvements and expansions, upgraded and expanded ambulance services, grown the medical assistance program and begun providing free immunizations to uninsured school children.

The district is the envy of other counties in the state, who don’t have the money to do some of the things they are doing, District CEO Randall Young said. 

With multi-million dollar indigent care payments to CHS finished as of this summer and a recent decision by the board to give CHS an additional payment of up to $9 million for unspecified hospital improvements, budget and tax rate discussions were lively last week. 

One board member, Director Eric Floyd, broke with the consensus and argued that the tax rate should be significantly lowered now that the district is no longer required to make large payments for indigent care to the company operating the hospital. 

“The question I have on this budget is why are we having the taxpayers pay $4.4 million more than what we really need?” Floyd asked. 

According to figures presented by the district’s controller, Judy Harris, total revenues are expected to be nearly $4.5 million more than the district’s $11.1 million in expenses. 

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