By Jan White
CROCKETT – At its called meeting on Tuesday, September 6, the Houston County Hospital District Board voted to keep the tax rate the same as last year, at $0.13 per $100, based on property valuations determined by the Houston County Appraisal District.
After listening to several public comments during the Public Tax Rate Hearing, Board President Barbara Crowson closed the open session and dove directly into the called meeting agenda.
“At our last meeting, we did declare our intent to set a rate for the 2023 Fiscal Year of $0.13. Do we have a motion?” The motion was immediately made and seconded, then opened for discussion.
Arguments were heard on both sides of the rate issue, from those hoping to lower the rate to $0.11 and those who were determined to keep it at $0.13. Supporters of reducing the rate felt it was their duty to the taxpayers not to burden them with an increase. They also voiced concerns over how the previous finances were handled and questioned the need for what they feel are excess funds generated from the increased tax revenue. Those advocating the $0.13 rate see the additional funds as a safety net for unknown expenditures. They hope to maintain to meet current budget expenses and still leave room for contingencies such as roof repairs or replacement and negotiations with the current tenant, who wants to enter into service contract talks before renewing his lease to continue operating the hospital.
Several members suggested that the opposing sides meet halfway and amend the motion to a tax rate of $0.12, but that agreement was not reached.
When it came time to vote for the tax rate of $0.13, Rhonda Brown, Harvey Bruner, Dina Pipes and Roy Langford voted against the proposal, while Pam Ainsworth, Carol Dawson, Debbie Kelly, Dr. John Stovall, and Crowson voted for, passing the motion by one vote.