Walker County residents will get one final chance to comment on a proposed maximum tax hike from the local hospital district, as officials strive to keep the doors open at Huntsville Memorial Hospital.
The public hearing is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. on Monday inside the sixth floor conference room of the First National Bank building, at 1300 11th St., with a vote on adoption scheduled for September 25. Board members with the Walker County Hospital District are proposing an 8% property tax hike, which would increase annual taxes by nearly $10 for the average property in Walker County.
“That small increase will give us approximately $509,000 more next year to help us do business and help save the hospital. Just that much will help tremendously as we move forward,” district chairperson Anne Karr Woodard said.
During the first public hearing, some locals saw the hospital district’s proposal to increase taxes would be a good investment towards keeping the hospital operational, while others questioned the district as to why the hospital was not shut down and sold to a for-profit entity.
Hospital District officials are also expected to pass a maximum tax increase for the next two subsequent years.
“This is not enough money,” board member Dr. David Tornjo said. “This amount of money will roughly pay for half of consultants and attorneys fees … to keep the hospital open, they will have to continue to raise taxes. It will certainly make some difference, but when you look at budget, this is just a tiny bit of it. The district is going to have to borrow a large amount of money for this project to go forward.”
The hospital district is currently working to finalize a management agreement with Community Hospital Corporation to take over operations of the acute care facility, with the current operator — Walker County Hospital Corporation — expecting to file for bankruptcy. That deal has a November 1 deadline.