Sept. 17 Hospital District Board To Consider Tax Rate, Budget, Organization

Hopkins County Hospital District Board of Directors have called a special meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday Sept. 17 to discuss a number of items during their regular session and at least two during executive session.

Budget and Tax Rate

The hospital district board are slated to review and approve the tax rate and budget for the fiscal year which will end on Sept. 30, 2020.

HCHD CEO Ron Folwell in May reported the district to be “doing fairly well” financially. During a June meeting of HCHD Board of Directors the Hopkins County EMS building was reported to have maintenance issues which need serious repair, and likely will be factors in the upcoming budget process.

“The building, it’s OK, but it’s starting to fall apart. It’s got a lot of things wrong with it. It’s been there quite a while,” Folwell said.

Director of Hopkins County EMS Services Brent Smith, at that meeting, said based on current maintenance and building issues, he does not anticipate the EMS building lasting another 2 years “without having major issues.” He then outlined the many issues facing the facility.

Folwell asked the board at the June meeting to discuss the possibility of replacing the building instead of making the extensive repairs.

Smith suggested a piece of property owned by the hospital district, located on the opposite side of Memorial Gardens facing Airport Road, would be an ideal location for a new EMS station. That would allow the EMS facility to remain centrally located near the hospital, he proposed.

“I really think that’s something we need to address in our upcoming budget, whether we find something existing or build something,” HCHD Board President Kerry Law said, and asked Smith to consult with officials who have more recently constructed similar facilities regarding costs, to get an idea how much one would run.

Struck Off Property

The Hospital District Board too will be asked to review and consider approving “conveyance of ‘struck off’ tax sale properties to the city of Sulphur Springs.

HCHD is expected to consider “conveying” properties on Oak Avenue, where an abandoned nursing home sits north of the railroad tracks, to the city for a new senior citizens activities center and parking lot. Sulphur Springs Independent School District Board of Trustees agreed to “strike off” the property to the city during their August meeting. Hopkins County Commissioners Court on July 1 agreed to sign over their ownership to the city.

Proposed site for the a new senior citizens activities center

Tax Abatement

The Sept. 17 HCHD agenda also calls for the board members to reveiw and consider approving a “first amendment to agreement for tax abatement for Ocean Spray Cranberries, Inc.”

Sulphur Springs City Council in June voted to revoke a tax incentive granted to Ocean Spray Cranberries for $5 million in improvements. The company reportedly failed to meet the terms of the abatement, which were to maintain its labor force and a minimum payroll of $1.8 million. More than a dozen jobs were reported to have been lost since the incentive was granted, reportedly due to efficiency of operations. The company had requested a reduction in the abatement proportionate to the reduction in labor. The city revoke it.

Hopkins County Commissioners Court opted not to revoke, but to modify an Ocean Spray Cranberries Inc. abatement by 10 percent, to match a reduction in staffing. At that time the loss was attributed to attrition, positions not being filled when people quit. However, it was reported that the company plans to work on building that number back, with five jobs to be added this year. Four years still remain on the five year agreement.

Additional items, reports

Hopkins County EMS ambulance

The board is also slated to review and consider approving financial statements for the 10 months ending July 31, 2019 and 11 months ending Aug. 31, 2019.

Paul Harvey

An EMS update and review will also be given during that time.

Submitted for approval under one motion as the consent agenda are nursing home reports and minutes from the Aug. 9 HCHD Board meeting.

To conclude the regular portion of the meeting, CHRISTUS Mother Frances Hospital-Sulphur Springs President/CEO is scheduled to give an update on “CHHA.”

Executive session

The hospital board is then scheduled to go into executive session where they are to review meetings from the Aug. 9 executive session; then to discuss personnel matters related to the management organization of the district, potentially designation of CEO and CFO positions, and real estate matters, including negotiation to the sale and lease of property. The board may consult with the HCHD’s attorney on the latter two items.

After the closed session, the board is to reconvene in open session to take action on items pushed forward from the executive session. Items listed for possible consideration include approval of the Aug. 9 executive session minutes; personnel matters related to the management organization of the district including the designation of CEO and CFO positions; and certain real estate matters including authorizing negotiations to the sale or lease of property, according to the agenda.

The Hospital District Board meeting will begin at 6 p.m. Sept. 17 in the Plaza Conference Room of CHRISTUS Trinity Clinic, 113 Airport Road in Sulphur Springs.

Author: Faith Huffman

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