To the Editor
I suspect a lot of other people, like me, have not been sure what a hospital district is, and why Gary Marks of the Glen Rose Medical Center would like to see it passed. I attended one of the Town Hall Meetings and had a lot of my questions answered. But a number of them remain-thereís another Town Hall meeting on this at the Citizenís Center on Feb 2.
The Glen Rose Medical Foundation, a private not-for-profit, currently runs the Medical Center and leases the land, building and equipment for $1 per year from the county. The county is required by state law to pay a certain percentage of their budget for the indigent, which equates to about 3.5 cents per 100 property evaluation.
The Hospital district is asking for a cap tax rate of 10 cents (down from the outrageous 75 cents they initially had on the petition) and says they would probably vote for 7 - 3.5 cents of which is simply a bucket change from the county to the district, assuming that the county then strikes that extra 3.5 cents from the county tax bill (I havenít heard that they are going to do that). If they didnít, then effectively our taxes could be raised by about 10 to 13 cents.
Mr. Marks has said that, even though the board that would ostensibly run the hospital district would be elected, he would like to see the hospital continue to be run by the private foundation. Why? In order to keep certain types of expenses, including salaries, hidden from the public and competition. I question whether this is legal; if it is, it certainly is not a transparent, accountable use of taxpayer money.
Along that line, there are two other private foundations that seem to have something to do with the GRMF. One is the Glen Rose Health Partnership, another private foundation run by Rose Beck, who apparently has extremely close connections to the GRMC. (Unknown at this point who else is affiliated with that foundation).
This foundation would be funneling money to clinics such as the one in Meridian on which they are putting an offer; my question is, from where does that money come? Would it be part of the taxpayer cost from the Somervell County Hospital District, as created, even though the physical boundaries of the district are the county parameters? A board member at the Town Hall told me I attended that in fact that would be the case.
And what about the Dr Roger Marks Foundation, another private foundation on which Mike Ford, Precinct 2 county commissioner sits as President. Has it ever donated or otherwise given money to the Glen Rose Medical Foundation and if so, shouldnít Mr. Ford recuse himself from any votes regarding the hospital district?
Finally, we wonder about the over $14 million that was given to the, again, private foundation by the Somervell County Commissionerís Court in April 2008, which is to be paid back by the Glen Rose Medical Foundation. I wasnít paying a lot of attention to that Certificate of Obligation, was caught up in the elections, but seems to me that the Commissionerís Court would have more than a passing interest in wanting to see the hospital district passed in order to recoup that huge loan. What would happen if the GRMC went under? Whoís on the hook? And, given that GRMF is private, where do I line up to put my name in the hat for some of that taxpayer money loaned out to me!
For these reasons, and some others, I am voting NO on the hospital district.
I believe the whole process is being rushed through, and the fact that the election is being held on Valentineís Day, makes me think that proponents of the hospital bill hope others arenít paying attention enough to vote if they donít want to see their taxes raised for what appears to be a privately run foundation without the level of accountability that, say, the water board or school district has.
The proposed new reactors at Comanche Peak promises to be a tremendous and timely economic boost for our county. As tempting as this sounds, the benefits fail when compared to the unacceptable water loss.
Here are a few shocking statistics about the proposed Comanche Peak reactors water use: 33 billion gallons will be withdrawn from Lake Granbury per year. Of that water, 18 billion (18,000,000,000) gallons will evaporate, with the remaining 15 billion gallons returning to Lake Granbury. NOTE: These figures are in the application at the library and were printed in last weekís Bosque County News.
To help me put 18 billion gallons of water into a perspective I could understand, I did a few calculations.
Roughly a cubic foot of water is 7.5 gallons. 18 billion gallons is 2,400,000,000 (2.4 billion) cubic feet. This amounts to just over 55,000 acre feet of water per year evaporated - gone for generations. Picture 55,000 acres covered with one foot of water.
Do double check for yourselves and figure what 18 billion gallons of water means to you.
Somervell County is just under 120,000 acres . . . and Lake Granbury only holds 136,823 acre feet according to the Brazos River Authority website. 55,000 acre feet would be 40% of Lake Granbury evaporated yearly www.brazos.org
If you think this will not impact Somervell County water, just ask someone who depends on the Brazos for agriculture, recreational business, tourism, etc. Groundwater will also be impacted as many current Lake Granbury water customers will turn to our declining Aquifers to meet their water needs.
Money or Water?
Thank you for allowing me to share my opinion.
Note: The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is accepting public comments regarding environmental impact concerns until February 17, 2009.
Chief, Rules and Directives Branch
Division of Administrative Service
Office of Administration
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Washington D.C. 20555-0001