County takes measures to save SMH, establish hospital district
Stephens County Commissioners took the first steps toward an attempt at saving the future of Stephens Memorial Hospital at Monday's regular meeting.
The Commissioners accepted a petition signed by more than 150 citizens of Stephens County who were in favor of establishing a hospital district. A public hearing is set for 9 a.m. Monday, Feb. 25, to consider calling an election to establish a hospital district in Stephens County.
If Stephens County Commissioners elect to call for an election for a hospital district, the voting will take place on May 11, coupled with the city and the Breckenridge ISD election.
However, commissioners were pretty forward that they were unanimously in favor of a hospital district at Monday's meeting.
"This is the only way that we are going to be able to save our hospital," Precinct No. 2 Commissioner D.C. "Button" Sikes said. "Without our hospital, Breckenridge and our county will be in danger of just drying up and blowing away."
What is the function of
a hospital district?
The hospital is currently owned by the county. By establishing a hospital district, a load will be taken off the county, as far as a budget item. In January, Commissioners took measures to borrow $600,000 to keep the doors open.
If the hospital district election process passes, ownership of the hospital, Breckenridge Medical Center and the Stephens Memorial Hospital Physician Clinic would fall under the hospital district, not the commissioners. Commissioners would appoint a Hospital Board of Directors to oversee operation of the hospital. Most hospitals in Texas are owned by a hospital district.
Only 10 county-owned hospitals exist, while there are 134 hospitals that are owned by hospital districts.
The hospital district property tax rate would be set at 18.5 cents per $100 valuation.
That rate would generate about $1.5 million annually.