By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Hospital authority seeks to double millage
Placeholder Image
Although they rolled back their tax millage request last year, the Liberty County Hospital Authority wants to more than double their millage rate this year, saying Liberty Regional Medical Center has been losing money for at least six years.
In deciding to ask for a four-mill levy, Authority Chairman Jon Long said, “... The very survival of the hospital is at risk.”
Long acknowledged it would have been more palatable to have asked for smaller tax increases over time, “But you always think it’s going to get a little better next year.”
Long said he believed LRMC had an efficient operation and that outside experts who had studied the hospital operation agreed.
Authority members blamed their financial plight on the large number of uninsured patients, low reimbursement rates for services and mandates. Member James Rogers said, “Much of this is forced on us by the state and federal governments.”
Long said the income from the four mills of property tax — and other funds to be sought from state and federal sources — would be used for expansion as well as survival. He mentioned clinics in east and west Liberty County as possible examples and said, “Doctor recruitment and retention is a huge issue for us.”
The authority scheduled the required public hearings for a tax increase on Nov. 19 and Nov. 26. There will be two hearings Nov. 19, one at 8 a.m. and one at 5 p.m. The final hearing will be Nov. 26 at 10 a.m.
All hearings are scheduled in the LRMC classrooms, which have sometimes not been large enough for crowds interested in hospital issues.
The motion to increase the millage was made by James Thomas, who said a millage rate of 5.75 was actually needed for the hospital to break even. He said other funds would have to be sought.
Thomas said another reason for the millage hike would be the demand for hospital services caused by, “that additional brigade the Army is planning to bring here.”
According to a public notice placed by the hospital authority, its property tax income for last year was $1.8 million.
The millage requested for this year is estimated to produce $4.4 million. 
Sign up for our e-newsletters