This article has been up for four days, but has been corrected. Here is a synopsis of a couple of the corrections:
The Courier incorrectly reported Sunday that Liberty County Commissioner Connie Thrift made a motion at a meeting Thursday to approve a 3.25 millage rate for Liberty Regional Medical Center as requested by the Liberty County Hospital Authority for the upcoming property tax collection season. Her motion was actually to approve 3.125 mills. It failed, and 3.1 mills eventually passed. The story also used a quote from Reggie Sage in the incorrect context. He was talking about the costs and consequences of unwed women having children when he said the community needed moral courage to face the issue. He was not talking about hospital financing.
In a four-hour meeting Thursday, the Liberty County Commission split on only one of four property tax millage requests, that of the hospital authority.
After hearings on that authority’s, the development authority’s and the county’s and then during votes on those requests plus that of the school board there was only one standoff on the normally fractious issues. The standoff trimmed down a millage increase for Liberty Regional Medical Center, granting a one-tenth of a mill increase instead of the quarter mill the hospital authority had requested.
Lame duck Commissioner Kenny Fussell did not attend the meeting and Commissioner Donald Lovette is an employee of the hospital and recused himself from voting. Four yes votes are required for approval.
Commissioner Connie Thrift proposed granting the quarter-mill hike to 3.125, but that motion failed. A split-the-difference compromise to set the millage at 3.125, also failed.
Commissioner Pat Bowen, who had asked many questions, made a motion to keep the millage at three, with no increase. This motion drew only two votes, that of Bowen and Commissioner Marion Stevens.
In a further effort at compromise, Commissioner Eddy Walden made a motion to grant an increase of one-tenth of a mill. Even this small hike appeared doomed by the opposition of Stevens and Bowen, but Walden urged the importance of continuing hospital services.
County Attorney Kelly Davis advised that if no agreement could be reached Thursday night, the commissioners could continue the advertised millage-setting meeting at another time. Walden, county CFO Kim McGlothlin and Tax Commissioner Virgil Jones were concerned about having the millage set in time to get tax bills out promptly. An apparently exasperated Bowen threw up his hands and said, “All right, three one.”
Bowen’s reluctant yes vote brought a total of four in favor with Commission Chairman John McIver, Thrift and Walden. Stevens voted no and Lovette abstained.
Citizens who spoke during the public hearing included Reggie Sage who read from an Oct. 21, 1990, Coastal Courier article that he said showed the hospital suffered financial problems even then.