Tax Rate Set at 15 Cents
By Will Johnson
HOUSTON COUNTY – The Houston County Hospital District Board of Directors (HCHD) met in a called meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 5 to discuss the approval of agreements with CHRISTUS Trinity Mother Frances and to set the tax rate for fiscal year (FY) 2018.
The first item addressed by the board was the adoption of the FY 2018 tax rate.
“At the last board meeting, we stated our intent of setting the tax rate at 15 cents per $100 of property valuation. Tonight, we have to formally approve that,” HCHD Board President Deborah Porth Blackwell said.
A motion was made, seconded and unanimously approved to set the FY 2018 tax rate at 15 cents per $100 of property valuation.
The next items brought up for deliberation were a pair of agreements with CHRISTUS Trinity Mother Frances.
Blackwell explained the first agreement concerned a lease arrangement between the HCHD and CHRISTUS.
“The lease agreement will be for 36 months,” Blackwell said. “It will cover the second floor of the medical office building – approximately 12,500 square feet. It will renew three times for 36 months and there is a 180 day notice of termination.”
She added the rent is $10 per square foot for a total of $131,340 per annum which breaks down to $10,945 per month.
“If another entity was to come in and make an offer to us, we would present that to CHRISTUS and they would have the ability to either accept and match the offer or allow us to move on with someone else. We are still at the point where we are talking to other entities,” she said.
Before the vote was taken, Dr. Bob Grier injected a moment of levity into the meeting.
“The agreement states they will give us 180 days’ notice should they decide to end the lease. Is there any in here about what happens if they should do that on seven days’ notice?” he asked.
“No, there’s not. That’s not standard procedure,” Blackwell replied with a thin smile.
Houston County residents may recall Timberlands Healthcare pulled out of the hospital operations in late June with only eight days of notice.
The lease agreement was unanimously approved.
As the meeting continued, the next item brought up for consideration pertained to a community benefit agreement.
“This term is only one year and it automatically renews for successive one year terms. The HCHD can terminate the contract without cause, pending 90 days written notice,” Blackwell said. “In the event it is terminated, CHRISTUS has the right to terminate the lease. The support fee is $400,000 the first year, $250,000 the second year and $350,000 for any year afterwards.”
Blackwell explained if the total amount of operating expenses for the clinic exceeds the total amount of net operating revenue for the month, the HCHD “… will shall CHRISTUS the amount of which expenses exceed net operating revenue, subject to the support fee cap. It is calculated on a calendar, quarterly basis but the first payment is not due until January. In the case that the district does not have the available revenue, then the shortfall shall accrue as a receivable until the district has the revenue. They will provide us with a copy of all expenses and we have the right to audit their books.”
After a motion was made and seconded to approve the community benefits agreement, HCHD Board VP Dr. John Stovall commented on the matter.
“I want the public to be aware that this is where some of their tax money is going for – to insure whether people can pay or not, they can be treated at the clinic,” he said.
Before the meeting adjourned, Blackwell informed the board on Friday of last week she had signed an agreement with TXU to save the HCHD approximately 10 cents per kilowatt hour, compared to the previous energy provider’s cost.
Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.