HCHD Indicates Intent to Lower Tax Rate

By Will Johnson

Messenger Reporter

HOUSTON COUNTY – The Houston County Hospital District (HCHD) Board of Directors met in a regularly scheduled meeting highlighted by a discussion on the district’s proposed tax rate for Fiscal Year (FY) 2021.

“You have in your packet a statement from the tax assessor/collector of Houston County. I considered having an executive session to discuss this topic but I decided against it,” HCHD Board President Barbara Crowson said.

“You may have forgotten that last year,” she continued, “we did not go with the effective tax rate. We kept the same tax rate we had. I will start this off by saying in my opinion – what I have seen in the financial reports – we are being able to pay off CHRISTUS, we are bringing our debt down at Prosperity (Bank) and my personal thought is that we should go with the effective tax rate, instead of keeping the same tax rate.”

Board member Dina Pipes added, “The effective tax rate is $0.14315 (per $100 of property valuation). The tax rate we have right now is $0.1494. So we’re going down. It’s not much but it is $0.00625, and it still adds up when you talk about $100 in property valuation.”

Crowson explained this was not an actionable item, but simply an expression of the board’s intent to lower the tax rate to the effective tax rate when the matter came up for a vote.        

Prior to the tax rate discussion, an update on the HCHD’s outside audit was provided by HCHD administrator Dick Murchison.

“As I told you last month, the auditors have been here and they have done their work. I told you they have a couple of burning issues they need to resolve and the bottom line is they want an asset management policy before they will issue an unqualified opinion,” Murchison said.

Following a lengthy discussion on the matter, HCHD President Barbara Crowson requested the board members study a handout provided by Murchison concerning the policy and commented the asset management policy would be placed on a future agenda for consideration.    

 The next item on the agenda was a report on the Houston County EMS was provided by Cassandra Galloway.

During the month of July, Galloway said, Houston County EMS received 281 requests for service “… because of COVID-19 related symptoms. I think that is where a lot of this is coming from.”

Of the 281 requests for service, Galloway said there were 121 transports of which approximately 71 percent went to Crockett Medical Center.  The helicopter was requested for standby 51 times and there were 10 patients who were flown. She also reported there were 15 calls for mutual aid.

Concerning average response times, Galloway reported the out-of-chute time was two minutes and 34 seconds; the city (Crockett) response time was nine minutes and 25 seconds; and the county response time was 24 minutes and four seconds.

Once Galloway concluded, CMC Administrator Tommy Johnson provided the board with an update on the hospital.

“Our numbers are coming up. The emergency center has seen 629 patients which is up almost 150 from last month. The clinic had 360 visits but we have not rolled in the telehealth visits. Those should be coming soon. Outpatient lab and radiology had 489 registrations which means they didn’t do that many tests, but that is how many came in to have tests done. There may have been three tests for every registration. We did 31 surgeries this month which is up six from the month before. We had 10 admissions for 25 days which is an average daily census of 2.5, which is good. We also 468 therapy visits to PT (physical therapy),” Johnson said. 

In other matters brought before the HCHD Board:

  • Minutes of the July 21 meeting were approved.
  • The HCHD financial report for July was approved. 

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

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