Health district board pro­poses higher tax rate for 2011 bud­get

Austin American-Statesman - - METRO & STATE - By Mary Ann Roser

The board of Cen­tral Health, for­merly known as the Travis County Health­care District, is mulling a $107 mil­lion spend­ing plan for 2011 that in­cludes in­creas­ing its tax rate to pay for in­di­gent health care.

The board plans to ask county com­mis­sion­ers to ap­prove the “ef­fec­tive tax rate,” or the rate that would bring in the same amount of money — about $65 mil­lion — as the cur­rent rate. The district also will gain $1 mil­lion in tax money from new con­struc­tion added to the tax rolls.

The pro­posed rate of 7.24 cents per $100 of as­sessed prop­erty value — up from the cur­rent 6.74-cent rate — would in­crease the tax bill for an av­er­age Travis County res­i­dence, val­ued at $222,231 with the stan­dard 20 per­cent ex­emp­tion, by $13.01, for a to­tal of $160.90.

John Stephens, chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer for Cen­tral Health, said the higher rate is nec­es­sary be­cause prop­erty val­ues over­all — in­clud­ing com­mer­cial prop­erty — have de­clined. If the rate is ap­proved, home­own­ers might see their tax go higher or lower depend­ing on how their prop­erty value changes, Stephens said.

Be­cause the Travis Cen­tral Ap­praisal District is still hear­ing protests over its as­sess­ments, prop­erty val­ues could change slightly un­til num­bers be­come fi­nal later this month, Chief Ap­praiser Pa­trick Brown said.

The board ex­pects to give pre­lim­i­nary ap­proval to the bud­get Aug. 18 and hold pub­lic hear­ings on the bud­get and tax rate after­ward. County com­mis­sion­ers would give fi­nal ap­proval in Septem­ber, be­fore the district’s new fis­cal year starts Oct. 1.

Later this month, the board will present its pro­posed bud­get to com­mis­sion­ers and ask for per­mis­sion to is­sue cer­tifi­cates of obli­ga­tion for the $18 mil­lion health clinic it is build­ing at 1210 W. Braker Lane. The board hasn’t de­cided whether to is­sue the cer­tifi­cates, which are sim­i­lar to mu­nic­i­pal bonds, but wants the flex­i­bil­ity in case it de­cides to es­tab­lish credit while in­ter­est rates are low.

Board mem­bers de­bated whether they should pur­sue that op­tion — the cer­tifi­cates are paid off over 20 years — when Cen­tral Health ex­pects to have $94 mil­lion in re­serves in 2011, an amount not in­cluded in the $107 mil­lion bud­get. Stephens said he would pro­pose that the board im­pose a slight tax in­crease, which would come out to 0.14 cents the first year, to pay off the debt, but sev­eral board mem­bers balked.

“We have such a high re­serve I can’t go there at this time,” said Bob­bie Barker, who cast the lone no vote of the seven board mem­bers present. An­thony Ha­ley and Dr. Don­ald Pa­trick were ab­sent.

The board’s pro­posed bud­get would in­crease spend­ing 9 per­cent and in­cludes $5.8 mil­lion to ex­pand health ser­vices.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.