Residents will have opportunities to let their voices be heard in at least two public hearings, with the first hearing on Tuesday in front of the Walker County Hospital District.

The hearings, which are required under state law, are about the proposed 2020 hospital district tax rate, which is proposed at $0.1162 per $100 valuation — which is 8% above the effective tax rate of $0.1076 per $100 valuation, the maximum allowed under Texas law. However, thanks to increases in property values, the proposed rate is still 2% below last year’s rate of $0.1187 per $100 valuation.

The average home in Walker County will see a near $10 increase in their hospital district taxes from the prior year, paying an average of $185.11 as opposed to a $175.07 average rate this year.

Hospital district officials are also expected to raise taxes for the next two years in a bid to fund operations at Huntsville Memorial Hospital.

“We have some difficult decisions ahead of us, and it is going to take money that we will have to borrow. It will take money with tax increases this year and possibly the next two years as well,” hospital district chairman Anne Karr Woodard said in last months meeting. “It comes down to do

The 2020 budget, which will generate an estimated $353,411 in additional revenue, will drop nearly $3.5 million in total expenses. This is mainly due to the loss of $3.94 million in rent payments that was paid to the district from current hospital operator Walker County Hospital District until June 2018. The budget will see a $75,000 increase in professional and consultant fees, a $50,000 decrease in legal fees and a $200,000 increase in capital outlay.we want to keep this community hospital open or not.”

Hospital District managers will have to approve the budget and come up with an estimated $15-20 million in just a couple of months. A hospital district takeover and management agreement with Community Hospital Corporation is expected to be finalized by November 1.

The bulk of the financial support will be with funding the first four months of operations, which has been projected to cost $6-8 million per month. This will allow the hospital district and CHC to “start fresh and not inherit debt from the Walker County Hospital Corporation.” Hospital reimbursements from private insurers and government programs like Medicaid and Medicare can take up to 120 days.

Tuesday's meeting is scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m. in the sixth floor conference room of the First National Bank of Huntsville, 1300 11th Street. 

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