HCHD Agrees to Take on Full Ambulance Subsidy

Board Adopts FY 2017 Tax Rate; Approves Bed Reduction

 By Will Johnson                                                                                                                                                                  Messenger Reporter

HOUSTON COUNTY – The Houston County Hospital District (HCHD) Board of Directors held a very busy meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 23 and took action to resolve several pressing matters.

The meeting was called to order by HCHD Board President Deborah Porth Blackwell who yielded the floor to Rev. Lance Mann for the invocation. After the opening prayer, the first order of business was to swear in newly appointed board member Tommy Driskell to Place Three. Driskell was selected to fill the position vacated by Rev. Patrick Evans following his acceptance of a different ministerial position within Methodist Church.

After Driskell was sworn in, a brief discussion on the HCHD tax rate was held. Blackwell informed the board members she had received a letter from the Houston County Tax Assessor Danette Millican which stated last year’s total property value was $1,097,976,750. “So last year, our assessed taxes were $1,646,965.13. The (total property) values were actually down this year to $1,750,661,890 and our effective tax rate – the rate which is needed to collect he same amount of taxes as last year – is 15.0762 cents. Because of our bylaws, we are not allowed to raise our taxes over 15 cents, so that’s our limit and that will bring us $1,613,492.84, based on last year’s tax rate,” she said.

Blackwell asked if there was any discussion on the matter and when no other issues were brought forward, she asked for a motion to set the FY 2017 tax rate at 15 cents per $100 of property valuation. A motion was made, seconded and approved to keep the rate at the current level.

The next item discussed was the Lifeguard Ambulance subsidy. “At the last meeting, (Houston County) Judge (Erin) Ford spoke to us regarding the HCHD absorbing the entire subsidy. The county was previously paying 25 percent and we covered the other 75 percent. The intent, as we discussed last month, was to absorb the entire amount.”

The HCHD chairperson said the board was unable to take action on the matter last month because it was only an item for discussion. Blackwell explained it was now an actionable item and he HCHD board could vote on the matter.

Before a vote was taken, a question was asked about the total amount of the subsidy. Blackwell said the total was $245,000. With no further discussion, the motion was unanimously approved.

As the meeting continued, the next item addressed by the HCHD concerned a reduction in the amount of authorized beds from 49 to 25. Concerning this matter, Blackwell read a resolution drafted by the HCHD Board. It stated, “The HCHD Board of Directors met and agreed to a reduction in the amount of Critical Care beds from 49 to 25.”

A question was asked if this would cause a reduction in staffing, but Little River Healthcare administrator Robert Torres replied it would not. A second question concerning the possibility of going back up on the number of beds was also asked and Torres replied that was also possible.


In other matters brought before the HCHD Board:

  • The minutes of the previous meeting were approved.
  • Torres provided an update on Little River Healthcare and informed the board Dr. Phillip Myatt had joined the staff of Little River and was completing his training in internal medicine and cardiology. He also said Dr. Daniel Dawson, a board certified OB-GYN physician would be joining the staff on Sept. 7.

Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at [email protected].

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