Somervell County Commissioners opened the floor to discussions about the hospital district election results after canvassing the votes.
County Judge Walter Maynard said he was concerned about the effect the vote would have on hospital staff. He did not want the election results to be viewed as a lack of community support for the hospital.
Maynard said the county would not let the hospital close, but added the county can only invest in the facility and cannot invest in operations as long as the Glen Rose Medical Foundation (GRMF) continued to operate the hospital.
“There is a lease, as far as I know, it will be in effect until August 2010, when the first payment is due,” Maynard said.
He added that if the hospital could not meet the agreed terms of the lease, the court would then explore other options.
But another election is not an option - at least not for another 12 months. Even if another election were held during the next general election in May 2010, substantial income would not reach the hospital until January 2011.
Commissioner Lloyd Wirt asked a few questions that residents had brought to him, such as going to an authority board like had been done in previous years.
Maynard said state laws are different now and they would not be able to do things the same. Even if the foundation was dissolved and the county took over hospital operations, residents would still be faced with a possible tax increase.
Except, instead of a 7-cent tax rate, county residents would most likely face a 10-cent tax increase to cover operational costs.
Glen Rose Medical Center (GRMC) CEO Gary Marks told the court that he would continue to keep the court updated and informed on any changes.
“We’re going to review things very closely,” Marks said.
Resident Charles Thomas also addressed the court.
“Taxpayers and citizens expect the county to do the best they can to monitor what’s going on,” Thomas said. “You see how the vote came out. If that’s not a referendum to do something, I don’t know what is.”
Somervell County residents voted against the creation of a hospital district after the special election concluded on Feb. 14.
In an interview following the commissioner’s meeting, Maynard said the bulk of the hospital’s profits had been used to buy medical equipment.
He said a consultant has been hired and has been working with the hospital for about six months to streamline operations. An independent auditing firm has also been hired to help produce the audit report that was due to the court more than five months ago as part of the lease agreement.
The Somervell County Fire Department (SCFD) received new extraction tools. During Monday’s meeting, the court accepted a donation of used tools from Luminant.
Steve Willis of SCFD said the equipment is about 15 years old, but has only been used twice. The previous operators ran maintenance every week or so and kept the equipment in good condition.
Other business covered during the meeting included granting a bit for library books to Primary at a 46.5 percent discount.
The commissioner’s approved the purchase of a new Volvo EW180C wheeled excavator with a 3-year warranty for $221,944.
The court is still waiting on leak test results at the Heritage Center to determine if the water damage is caused by a leak in the roof or wall.
Commissioner James Barnard added that he would also like to get bids for a roofing project at the Citizen’s Center.
“I’d like for us to get a bid on a metal roof and a composition roof,” Barnard said.
The item was not listed on the agenda for action, so it will have to be scheduled for a future meeting.
Commissioners also approved a contract extending the county’s depository agreement with First Financial Bank-Glen Rose under the same terms and conditions.