Somervell County Salon-Populist Online News and Opinion-Glen Rose, Rainbow, Nemo, Glass....Texas


Somervell County Hospital District Wants to Raise your Taxes to Just Below the .175 cent cap to .1737486 (2016)

15 September 2016 at 10:15:46 AM

Tax Rate .1738

Rough transcript, watch video for exact wording.

Hankins: Discuss and if necessary take action on approval for proposed tax rate for 2017.

Reynolds We've given you the notice of the effective tax rate.. and the rollback rate. Related to this, we need to publish a proposed rate The thing with that is, if we publish a proposed rate, we can go below that but we can't go above that with our final rate. We'll need to have 2 separate public hearings, one would be on the 26th, the other the 29th. We need to post in the paper, and we're going to do this in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram becuase the weekly issue here, it will be in the Saturday Ft Worth Star-Telegram.... public meeting on 26th of September, 2nd on fhe 29th, probably at 5:30 pm. We need to get your pleasure on what to use as a proposed tax rate. 

Bruce: Do we need to talk about the budget first? 

WOW, I am IMPRESSED. YES, imagine actually being able to figure out a proposed tax rate because you looked at the budget FIRST. Except.. not. So, unlike what the Texas Comptroller's office says that a budget should be drafted FIRST that meets legal qualifications IN ORDER TO set a tax rate, this board waited until the last minute and still has no budget.

Reynolds Well we have to post, I guess my recommendation is let's go ahead and post at the maximum rate.. then we can go below that based on whatever our budget looks like and then if we get any more information related to what the value of the plant might be. 

Drake So based on your calculations this rte of   .1737486 is the maximum we need to ask for, 

Reynolds: This may generate some discussion in the community but that's not the final .. but I would say this, if there is no change in the value of what we expect the value of the plant to be, we're going to be hard pressed to be able to budget for any tax rate below that. 

Drake: If there is a reduction in the assessed value for the plant, are we going to be hurtin with this tax rate?

Reynolds: Well, it'll raise 1.9 if the value stays at 261 million, .1737 will generate 1.9 million in tax revenue, that's about a milion less than we budgeted for last year. .. If there's a change in the value of the plant between now and when we approve the tax rate, and approve the budget, either on Sept 30 or Oct 7 depending on where we set our tax rate, then we'll recalculate what the projected revenues are. 

Hankins: Everybody on the board's aware, I assume, that there are on-going discussions between Central Appraisal District and attorneys with Luminant about some kind of settlement on the plant, not only for last year but this year, the value that Luminant put (REYNOLDS STARTS SHAKING HIS HEAD NO VERY VIGOROUSLY) . We don't know what they're going to pay. Hopefully it gets worked out and they reach something reasonable, if they don't, we know what we went through this year or have gone through this year by them putting what we consider an artificially low value on the plant, so .. I don't see that we can do anything else other than go right up to the maximum tax rate for right now and then see if something happens between this time and the time we actually have to set it, we can do something different

Bruce: What is the deadline to set it?

Reynolds: Sept 30. 

Griffin: What we run in the paper, we're not adhered to, we just need to put the maximum.

Margaret Drake makes the motion, .1737 per 100. Griffin seconds. All vote yes. 

Griffin. We are not adhered to that number. We are not adhered to that number. 

Hang on, I've got a piece of underwater Florida land to sell you, open your checkbook.

The pieces of paper you see, sparse that they are, are not actually the budget. It's not done, so there's a budget workshop to be scheduled for next Tuesday at 5:30. pm. Nothing like voting on proposed maximum tax rates without a budget, eh? Course it didn't help that ALL of the board members voted NOT to have budget workshops. Okay, I'm complaining here, but the city and county have been doing budget workshops for at least 2 months, on a regular basis, for hours. Terrible management to sort of bring this up at the last minute, it smacks of wanting to push through the maximum tax rate without benefit of proof. 

Public Comments

Gary Whittle and I both made public comments. Public comments weren't on the agenda but the board allowed them after Whittle asked. Whittle basically went back in time to talk about why the tax rate was too low in the first place when the district was formed, and he and another person voted for higher rates. Just as a history lesson, recall that in August 2013, there were a lot of people who did not want a hospital district. The temporary board at the time lowballed the tax rate in order to try to kill off the petition calling for an election to dissolve the district.  (in fact, hilariously, it was Jim Burkhart that pushed this because he was afraid if the tax rate was too high, there would be a visible revolt-those that were against, not the hospital, but the district, were called "extremists". The district has now gone up as far as they can go without putting this on the ballot again for a higher tax rate, and I"m going to assume unless a lot of people show up and demand accountability, it's going to be set THIS time at the highest rate no matter what. 

Now, what's missing in all of this, at least from my perspective. Accountability.

The hospital district wants more taxes and yet they continue to spend OUR taxes in somebody else's hospital district in which the residents there pay NO TAXES. You get that? WE pay our Somervell County taxes in Hood County and if we're lucky, the guard at the gate to Pecan Plantation will let us in. Remember that Ray Reynolds wants to spend MORE of our tax money in Hood County to open up more clinics, again, in a county where because Hood has a deal with LGMC to operate a for-profit hospital, the residents there pay nada. Shouldn't a RESPONSIBLE board go make sure that conducting operations and spending taxes in a district NOT OUR OWN is legal? 

I thought Dwayne Griffin was going to call for a meeting to examine doctor contracts, and clinic operations. That has never happened. And yet, to be clear, doctors WORK FOR THE DISTRICT and their salaries are part of the budget. Dr Vacek gave such a great speech about how wonderful it was that the employees were taking cuts in pay, time and insurance, and yet, I believe the doctors have taken NO CUTS. Doesn't someone WANT Dwayne Griffin to look at these things? If not, why not? Where's the meeting? Ooops, I guess there won't be time now to really look at that, so 6 months wasted.

Ray Reynolds has NEVER since the district has been formed had a review and yet he is an at-will employee who serves at the pleasure of the board. WHY NOT??

Somebody ought to take a fresh look at that OSA Slush fund. During the last board, the contract was changed to be even less accountable than it was to begin with. 

At this point, do citizens of this county care or are they just happy to have their taxes raised without asking why or how or for what? Is just blindly giving them more money without accountability a good thing? I don't think so


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