By JOSEPH HAMRICK
Precinct 2 Hunt County Commissioner Jay Atkins’ plan to remove the Hunt Regional Healthcare Center’s taxing authority contains inaccuracies, local hospital officials say.
Richard Carter, chief executive officer of Hunt Regional Healthcare, said the hospital district’s tax rate will probably not exceed the county’s in a decade, which contradicts a statement by Atkins.
“Based on our tax rate history, this is highly unlikely,” he said. “The hospital district’s current tax rate of .225000 [per $100 valuation] is only .0075 greater than the 1990 tax rate of .217500. If the county population increases as Mr. Atkins projects, this will provide greater tax benefit for the district and even less likelihood of a tax rate increase.”
According to Carter, Atkins’ estimate of how much tax money the hospital receives annually is a few million dollars more than they will actually receive.
“Our 2012-13 tax rate is .225000 per $100 valuation, which will generate approximately $9.4 million in tax revenues,” he said. “The hospital district tax benefit currently equates to a five-to-one return on investment, an investment our county’s citizens can be proud of.”
According to Carter, the Baylor University Medical Center has not approached the hospital regarding any form of ownership. The district is an independent affiliate of the Baylor Health Care System.
“This affiliation allows us to maintain local control and oversight by elected officials who directly represent the citizens of Hunt County, while being able to access purchasing agreements, technology and market intelligence from this large and well-known Baylor organization,” he said. “This affiliation has helped vault the district into the highest quartile of quality performance, according to Medicare.”
Currently, a portion of the hospital district’s taxes go toward maintaining a county-wide ambulance service. Carter said that the county is obligated to provide indigent care through taxes, whether the hospital district is tax-supported or not.
“Charity care must be provided by the citizens of Hunt County, whether through hospital tax or an addition to county taxes,” he said. “The citizens of Hunt County voted to form the hospital district to ensure charity care could be provided in the most cost effective manner.”