To the editor,
Last week’s Glen Rose Reporter article on the Hospital Foundation giving up control of the hospital was really interesting because it was chock-full of self-serving points. The most incredible was Judge Maynard’s statement that “…we are all in agreement the foundation has done a good job and it’s just a matter of circumstances.”
This statement is remarkable! I would remind the judge that the Hospital District proposal was overwhelmingly defeated in February this year and that there were about 600 voters opposed to the proposal.
Interestingly, the voters turned down a Hospital District in February and statements were made that another election couldn’t be held for another year. However, here we go again - now, with the proposal for a Hospital Authority. Folks, I don’t know the legal differences, if any, but we should be talking to our elected officials and maybe they can straighten it out for us. Our county attorney is researching the matter.
Further, the judge mentioned that the present situation is “…a matter of circumstances.” This certainly does not indicate that the judge has a grasp of the problem, much less a solution.
Perhaps some of the voters voted against the proposal because they thought new management of the hospital could be a good idea.
The hospital management and the county judge are making an end run around the will of the people as clearly expressed in the election defeat of the Hospital District.
Now the management of the hospital and the county judge seek to thwart the will of the people by adding more taxes to the county budget.
The hospital had almost $900,000 in “short-term investments” at the end of June and another $437,000 in “capital improvement fund.” I don’t know why the capital improvement fund could not have been used to purchase the almost $50,000 of equipment the county agreed to pay recently. Why should the taxpayers pay for equipment when the hospital had money set aside for that purpose?
The county judge’s little hide-and-seek game with the financial statements and minutes of the Hospital Foundation continues. In accordance with open records laws as I understand them, I believe the judge and the county commissioner, who serve ex-officio on the Hospital Foundation Board, are required to file those public records with the county clerk.
So, while some of the financial statements have been properly filed in the clerk’s office all of them have not been filed, and minutes of the Hospital Board meetings have not been filed. I will ask again to see these important records, if any, that have been filed since I was last in the county clerk’s office.
Why is this important? Because the minutes for last year reveal that Gary Marks was voted a big bonus by the board at the very time the financial situation of the hospital was deteriorating. What other items of interest might be found in this year’s minutes?
At the time the bonus was voted, the financial status of the hospital was deteriorating. Yet management and the county judge were pushing the $14,500,000 loan package to add to the county’s costs. Note that I said county’s costs, not the hospital’s costs because, even at that time, it was readily apparent that the hospital would never be able to repay the county.
Did you know that all of the county’s property taxes are pledged against that debt? All of the county’s necessary expenses, including salaries to county officials and employees, and suppliers’ bills play second fiddle to the certificate holders.
I am asking that all minutes of the hospital and its various entities be opened to the public immediately and stored properly in the county clerk’s office.
In addition, I strongly recommend that the county, which has more than $20,000,000 invested in our fine hospital, order and obtain a complete operational audit of the hospital with recommendations.
The operational audit should be made by a qualified, independent, and objective firm with no local ties.
The report and recommendations should be addressed to the county judge and commissioners and should be available for public inspection.
Commissioner Mike Ford says that the county should move forward quickly (how about prudently?) because of the upcoming end of the fiscal year. Ford points out that additional audits of federal funds might be required if something isn’t done in haste.
Frankly, I would rather get it right and save hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars than save the much smaller amount spent for the audits.
I call for the county judge and commissioners to do the job for which the voters of this county elected them. This does not mean falling in line like “good little soldiers.” It does mean doing your own research and your own thinking and voting for what is best for your constituents.