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HCHD Board Makes Extra Payment on Debt

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Interlocal Agreements with City/County Approved

By Will Johnson                                                                                                                                                            

Messenger Reporter

HOUSTON COUNTY – The Houston County Hospital District Board of Directors is working hard to pay off its debt and on Tuesday, Oct. 15, the directors voted to make an extra payment of $150,000 to Prosperity Bank in an effort to hasten its debt-reduction goal.

The meeting was called to order by HCHD Board President Barbara Crowson who yielded the floor to Finance Committee Chairman Karen Duncan.

Duncan said the committee had recently met and informed the full board the Prosperity Bank loan is coming up for its annual renewal.

“All we know from talking with Brandon Bridges (with Prosperity Bank) is that the executive board will probably be requiring more of a payment from us than they received in the past. So, we are recommending an extra payment of $150,000 be made in October. Then, our annual payment of $300,000 towards the principal will be made in the first quarter of next year, as we have always done.”

The committee chair went on to say the reason the HCHD was able to make the additional payment is because the district kept the tax rate at 0.149 per $100 of property valuation rather than lowering it to the effective rate.

A motion was made and seconded to make the additional payment before the question was opened for discussion.

Board member Rhonda Brown said she felt the board should pay more because of the uncertainty of what amount Prosperity Bank might require in the future. She suggested paying an additional $200,000 or $250,000 – instead of the $150,000.

Brown was joined in her request by board member Dina Pipes who expressed her desire to pay Prosperity at least $250,000.

“We have over $500,000 in our account right now. I think we need to make it $250,000 so we might be able to cut the interest,” Pipes said.

Crowson said one of the things holding her back from paying Prosperity Bank was the debt owed to the Texas Higher Education Committee because of a grant misused by Timberlands HealthCare.   

After several minutes of discussion, the motion to pay an extra $150,000 to Prosperity Bank was approved.

As the meeting continued, Facilities Chairman Erin Ford provided the board with an update on an interlocal agreement with the city of Crockett to repair the hospital driveway, near the ambulance bays.

Ford said he had spoken with a contractor who said “spot repairs” could be done for approximately $2,000.

“I got with (Crockett City Administrator) John Angerstein    and he was good enough to offer the city’s equipment and labor to completely resurface the 680 feet of drive from the road to the ambulance building. It would be a complete re-surface of 680 feet x 24 feet wide. All they are asking is the cost of material, which would be $4,856. I think the city is incredibly generous to do that. I think it is a wonderful offer,” Ford said.

The chairman said he expected the work to take between one and two months to complete. Motions to approve an interlocal agreement with the city and to accept the cost estimate of $4,856 were made seconded and approved.       

In other matters brought before the HCHD Board of Directors:

  • The minutes of the Sept. 17 meeting were approved.
  • Ambulance Committee Chair Dina Pipes reported Houston County EMS received 231 requests for service during the month of September and transported 152 patients. There were 25 helicopter requests and 13 flights were made. Houston County EMS responded to one mutual aid response.
  • Crowson provided a brief update on the 2019 legislative session and said more information would be forthcoming.
  • The district financial report for the month of September was approved.
  • The HCHD records retention policy was approved as amended.   
  • An interlocal agreement between the HCHD and the city of Crockett – in regard to elections – was approved.

Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at wjohnson@messenger-news.com.