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Follow The (Tax) Money

By Lynda Jones
Editor-in-Chief
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The Houston County Hospital District (HCHD) is asking for a 12-cent tax hike for Fiscal Year 2016, raising the current rate of three cents per $100 valuation to 15 cents per $100 valuation. The proposed tax rate, five times the current rate, qualifies for a rollback election for approval, if a taxpayer(s) circulates a petition and collects 200 signatures calling for an election.

Otherwise, the tax rate will stand with only the board's vote.

Some taxpayers say they want the hospital here to succeed and admit the community needs the hospital, but they don't want to approve the proposed tax rate without a rollback election unless they feel comfortable with how their tax dollars will be spent.

The difference between last year and this year is that, on June 1, the HCHD took ownership of the new Houston County Medical Center and the adjacent Houston County Medical Clinic, and operation of both. The HCHD board also committed to providing most of the subsidy required to retain the services of Life Guard Emergency Medical Services when ETMC EMS pulled out of Houston County on March 1.

The Fiscal Year 2016 (Oct. 1, 2015 – Sept. 30, 2016) budget summary approved by the HCHD board categorizes income and expenses as hospital, non-hospital and consolidated.

With regards to projected revenue generated by the hospital itself, the FY 2016 Budget Income Summary anticipates gross patient revenue will total $67,096,058, with $23,781,894 coming from inpatient revenue and $43,314,164 coming from outpatient revenue.

The budget categorizes the following hospital revenue deductions: Medicare Contractual, $26,766,690; Medicaid Contractual, $6,560,406; Prior Year Medicare Cost Report Adjusted, $6,483; Managed Care Discounts, $12,262,147; Charity and Indigent Discounts, $3,486,848; and Other Discounts, $3,787,995.

After subtracting the total of hospital revenue deductions ($52,870,569) from the total gross patient revenue ($67,096,058), the total net patient revenue amounts to $14,225,489.

After subtracting $1,864,951 from that figure, the total net revenue less bad debts equals $12,360,538. With the addition of $125,304 for unspecified other revenue, the net operating revenue of the hospital is expected to be $12,485,842.
Operating expenses for the hospital includes: Salaries, $5,116,133; Employee Benefits, $1,320,881; Contract Labor, $295,688; Professional Fees, $1,322,776; Supplies, $1,601,304; Purchased Services, $2,582,052; Insurance, $129,420; Utilities, $518,156; Depreciation & Amortization, $433,812; Interest, $19,222; and Other, $389,552. Operating expenses for the hospital total $13,728,996.

The operating margin for the hospital is shown as ($1,243,154); non-operating income is $43,664; and the net margin for the hospital is ($1,199,490).

Non-hospital expenses include $194,443 for Purchased Services (Appraisal and Ambulance); $9,996 for Insurance (Malpractice Insurance); and $216,997 for "Other" (Physician Guarantee). The total given for non-hospital operating expenses is $421,436; operating margin, ($421,436) and non-operating income is $1,564,620 (Tax Revenue: appraised value of $1,097,976,750, tax rate of $0.15 per $100 and collection rate of 95%). The non-hospital net margin is $1,143,184.

Consolidated total operating expenses (Hospital + Non-hospital) are $13,150,432; consolidated operating margin is ($1,664,590); consolidated non-operating income is $1,608,284. The consolidated net margin in this budget is ($56,306).
The Houston County Hospital District Board of Directors will hold a Public Hearing on the proposed tax rate Wednesday, Sept. 2, at 5:30 in the Houston County Medical Center Cafeteria.