The Calhoun County Commissioners’ Court is taking action to bring Memorial Medical Center back in line with the state statute on the creation of rural hospitals and hospital districts following a budget workshop that included a multi-million dollar request for repairs to the hospital.
“It’s been kind of lax for a while, an it’s always been done that way and that’s changing. We’re going by the rules and the state statute lays it out in black and white that the county hospital board has to answer to us,” said Calhoun County Judge Richard Meyer.
The MMC board met with county commissioners during budget workshops in July, it was reported in an Aug. 28 article. Capital funding for 2020 included $2.849 million from the priorities list with $576,291 to be funded while more than $2.272 million was proposed to be carried over into 2021. Building projects for 2020 were proposed at more than $5.141 million for a combined total of more than $7.990 million.
The repairs and equipment upgrades were sorted into priorities. Topping the list of priority one list was a new HVAC and controls system, estimated to cost more than $1.85 million; a Hot and Chilled Water Plant, estimated to cost more than $1.03 million; and a new roof system, estimated to cost more than $2.261 million.
During the workshop, the commissioners decided to go in stages on handling the priorities.
“We’re not going to do it all at once and the county is going to oversee it since we’re writing the checks,” said Meyer previously about the budget. “This didn’t happen overnight and it’s going to take a lot of hard work to get it back. But it can’t all be done at one time.”
In addition, the commissioners have named the head of maintenance for the county to oversee the project and approved a Request for Professional Engineering Services with G&W Engineering for the roof and air conditioning at Memorial Medical Center during last Wednesday meeting.
Meyer said a timeline has been given to the board to straighten out the issues among those are percentage raises compared to flat raises for other county employees, paying full insurance and dental for board members instead of the hospitalization only that the statute requires and meeting budgeting requirements.
On raises, Meyer said those are approved by the commissioners and “we’re not real happy the way it’s done. We’re going to do it the way it supposed to be done, at least while I am here.”
Meyer said the court is giving the board a chance to straighten things out otherwise “if it’s not done, the court will step in and get it done. It’s their job and we’re going to let them work it out and report to use. If it is satisfactory, fine, if not we’ll work on it.
“This all for the positive,” he said.
Monday, the county had its first public hearing on the proposed 2020 budget that includes a tax rate of .5572 per $100 valuation, which is the roll back rate. The second public hearing is scheduled for 9 a.m. Sept. 13 in the Commissioners Courtroom.
“It’s the rollback rate with all of the hospital repairs and the new EMS crew we’re implementing. Even with the increase we will be operating at a $1.5 million deficit. It’s been staying the same for long and the deficit kept getting bigger,” explained Meyer.
He pointed out Calhoun County ISD is lowering its tax rate and while the county’s is going up, taxpayers will be paying 3.25 less in total tax than last year.
“It was a tradeoff. The hospital deal was a surprise to us,” he said.
The fiscal year 2020 General Fund budget shows revenues of $23,686,384 with total expenses of $25,116,972, a difference of a minus $1,430,488.
Revenue comes from the following sources:
Property taxes: $17,887,000.
Sales taxes: $3,500,000.
Other taxes: $45,000.
Licenses and permits: $11,510.
Fines & forfeitures: $173,100.
Other revenues: $224,720.
Capital outlay: $1,005,699.
Road and Bridge for Precinct 1 was decreased by $61,482 to $1,062,422; Precinct was decreased by $141,856 to $954,190; Precinct 3 was increased by $7,585 to $857,511; and Precinct 4 was decreased by $181,211 to $2,030,241.
The Sheriff’s Office budget was increased by $58,189 to $3,214,785 in part to accommodate deputy sailors, which would provide more resources when more manpower was required by the Sheriff’s Office.
Emergency Medical Services saw its budget increased by $732,942 to $3,650,635. The increase is to add another crew, which Director Dustin Jenkins said would reduce the number of times when a total utilization of resources occurred with the department.