Discussion on petition, possible dissolution election to be held

Less than a year after its formation, voters within Somervell County Hospital District could be asked to decide the entity's future. The district's board of directors, which oversees operation of Glen Rose Medical Center, has called a meeting for 2 p.m. Monday, Nov. 18.

The meeting will be held in the hospital's community board room and begins with a closed session discussion with attorney Kevin Reed regarding the petition recently submitted by Somervell County resident Paul Harper, calling for a dissolution election. Any action on the issue will take place in open session.

Reed said the effort to verify the estimated 930 signatures on the petition was nearing completion when he spoke with the Reporter Tuesday, Nov. 12.

Throughout the collection process, which started in May and wrapped up earlier this month, Harper said signatures were verified as belonging to qualified voters. Harper obtained a copy of the voter roll, entering signatures into a database as they were collected to ensure the needed number of signatures - 15 percent of the district's registered voters - were collected, belonged to valid voters and were not duplicated.

If the more than 100 pages of signatures contain the required number of signatures, the hospital board will be required to call an election. Reed said the election would have to be held within 60 days of being called and could fall on any day - not just a uniform election date.

The district was formed in May, when it passed by only two votes. Shortly after the votes were tallied, Harper began organizing the effort to disband the district, citing the desire to do away with the new tax and criticizing the appointment - rather than election - of the board.

But, a successful dissolution election would not necessarily mean the end of the taxing entity, according to Reed. He said the board would have the option to keep the district intact and continue to tax until all hospital debt - about $14 million - is paid.

Meanwhile, officials have said disbanding the district does not necessarily mean taxes will decrease for property owners.