By a vote of 3-2 Monday night by its Board of Directors, the Somervell County Hospital District raised its effective property tax rate to .14686960 cents per $100 valuation.
Ray Reynolds, CEO of Glen Rose Medical Center, told the board members who were present — minus Margaret Drake and Dwayne Griffin — that the new tax rate was the maximum amount that could be set without triggering an automatic tax rollback election. The rollback figure had been set at .14686965.
The three votes for the new tax rate were cast by President Ron Hankins, Vice President Brett Nabors and board member Steven Vacek. The “no” votes were recorded by Pam Parsons and Pat Bruce.
Reynolds also explained that the revenue expected from the new budget will still result in lower revenue for the SCHD.
That’s because of the lower property value generated from the Comanche Peak Nuclear Power Plant after its protest last year, which was followed by a lawsuit against the Somervell County Appraisal District, then a settlement.
“We will get $100,000 less, even with this higher rate. If there had been no change, there would be a little over $300,000 less this year,” Reynolds said. “We made all of our major cost reductions during the last year, when payment (from the plant) was delayed. We left most of those cuts in place.
“Employee benefits were reduced significantly — insurance, participation in the retirement program (pensions). We had no significant layoffs. We lost some positions through attrition.”
Reynolds said he was pleased with the budget-shaping job turned in by the Board of Diarectors.
“I think the board did a very good job through the budget process, and having the budget meetings, (to) provide some funds for needed capital items,” Reynolds said, noting that about $600,000 was targeted for items related to patient care.
This year’s adjusted tax base is $$2,671,051780.
Many rural hospitals are going through difficult times equal to — or greater — than those being navigated by GRMC.
“Certainly we would like to, at some point in the future, to meet our budget needs, accumulate the needed reserves, and at some point reduce the tax rate,” Reynolds stated. “I think the community has been very supportive of the hospital in difficult times, with the addition of higher tax rates. Rural hospitals have been having a very difficult time, and there have been closures as a result of that.”
The SCHD became a taxing entity in 2013, Reynolds said, also noting, “We have not had the opportunity to create a reserve.”