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updated 8:40 PM UTC, Dec 13, 2018

Meetings

Hospital district tax increase proposal made

Tyler County Hospital CEO Dr. Sandra Gayle Wright reads from a letter she addressed to Tyler County residents to justify a tax increase proposal for the hospital. (CHRIS EDWARDS | TCB)Tyler County Hospital CEO Dr. Sandra Gayle Wright reads from a letter she addressed to Tyler County residents to justify a tax increase proposal for the hospital. (CHRIS EDWARDS | TCB)

 

By Chris Edwards
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WOODVILLE – Dr. Sandra Gayle Wright, CEO of Tyler County Hospital, asked county commissioners for an increase in hospital property tax rates during a special meeting on Monday afternoon.

During the special meeting of the Tyler County Commissioners Court, for which the proposed increase, was the only agenda item, Wright spoke of several factors affecting rural healthcare facilities. Wright asked the court for a raise of $0.0350 per $100,000 valuation increase in taxpayers’ hospital property tax rates. The increase will take TCH from 0.2096 to 0.2446, which is the minimum amount needed to maintain the hospital’s services.

“We’re facing impact from the government with all of the regulatory changes as well as getting less money from the services we provide,” Wright told the county officials.

She submitted a letter articulating TCH’s need and her concerns to the four commissioners and Tyler County Judge Jacques Blanchette. The letter, which is addressed to the residents of Tyler County, lists factors such as increases in the cost of indigent care services, emergency room services, inpatient services and a reduction in program and grant monies as justification for the increase.

“State and federal laws require us to maintain a certain level of staff even though the patient census is low,” the letter states. “We lost doctors over the years, which severely decreased our volume of hospital inpatients.”

Wright said that programs that benefited the hospital in the past, including the Medicaid Wavier program, is paying less. She said the hospital is not receiving as much from its nursing program as it had in the past.

“We’ve been using those programs to keep the hospital open as well as the property tax,” she said.

Another problem facing the hospital, Wright said, is that the majority of the hospital’s costs are fixed, despite the low number of inpatients at the facility. “We cannot reduce enough cost when the volume decreases,” she said.

She cited examples of other hospitals in the region that have shuttered, including Crockett and Trinity, as representative of the problem facing rural healthcare. “Other rural hospital cost of operation is the same, but the difference in property tax is what keeps their doors open,” Wright’s letter states.

The letter continues to state that the rate increase is “a small price to pay to keep the hospital doors open and to save a life, which may be your own.”

The average market value of a home in Tyler County is $82,000 and at this value assessment, the homeowner will see an increase of $28.70 each year in their tax rate with the proposed increase. It would also bring a $382,875.83 increase to TCH’s annual revenue.

Wright said TCH has taken “drastic” steps to cut costs, including cutting benefits and laying off some staff. She said that the inability to give employees a raise in three years has hurt morale.

TCH had to stop its retirement program in July, a move Wright said was the worst cut the hospital had to make. In the increase, one cent is earmarked for retirement. The 3% retirement match was listed as the first item on a list of proposed uses for the tax funds, which Wright presented at the meeting.

Precinct 4 Commissioner Jack Walston said he was concerned about the morale of the employees as well as keeping the hospital’s doors open before the officials unanimously voted to approve the increase. Hearings for the tax increase were set for Sept. 12 and 26.

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Ivanhoe discusses infrastructure, bond

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By Caitlin McAllister

IVANHOE – The Ivanhoe City Council met in its regular meeting on Aug. 9. Among the agenda items were ongoing issues related to the city’s infrastructure, as well as a bond election. 

Several city departments presented reports on their respective activities to the council; much of the content of these reports pertained to the city of Ivanhoe’s infrastructure. In his report, Ivanhoe Supervisor of Dams Rusty Harrison said that the Camelot Dam is scheduled to have a valve replaced. At least one other dam is currently in need of caulking, due to the growth of plant life is some of the dam’s expansion joints. 

Later, David Marshal, head of Ivanhoe’s Public Works Department, said that the city will be starting to work on culverts soon. This will entail placing bulkheads on top of the culverts located at corners, to prevent cars from accidentally crushing the drainage pipes, as well as clearing drainage ditches throughout Ivanhoe.

Marshal, additionally, expressed desire for the Public Works Department to develop its own emergency response plan, and said that the city will soon begin efforts to clear areas that have become so overgrown that public works employees have not been able to work in them post-Harvey. He also said the Public Works Department has been struggling to keep up with road maintenance. 

During the meeting, the council also voted to give notice of an election on a bond proposal to raise funds for road work throughout the city. The roads in Ivanhoe are deteriorating and are now in such bad shape that the postal service has stopped delivering mail to the homes of some Ivanhoe residents, on the grounds that the roads are in too poor of a condition for the carrier to drive down them. The proposal would, if passed, allow the city to raise $2 million to fix its road system through the sale of bonds. The bond election will be held simultaneously with other county elections on Nov. 6.

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Chester approves slaughterhouse ordinance

Chester Mayor Floyd Petri invited Texas Rep. James White (R-Dist. 19) to come for the re-introduced an historic ordinance empowering the citizens of Chester to have a choice over the entrance of a slaughterhouse at the city council meeting Monday evening, Aug. 13.  White fully supported the city’s ability to choose and have local control. (MIKE MANESS | TCB)Chester Mayor Floyd Petri invited Texas Rep. James White (R-Dist. 19) to come for the re-introduced an historic ordinance empowering the citizens of Chester to have a choice over the entrance of a slaughterhouse at the city council meeting Monday evening, Aug. 13. White fully supported the city’s ability to choose and have local control. (MIKE MANESS | TCB)

 

By Michael G. Maness

CHESTER – Chester Mayor Floyd Petri introduced a revised ordinance he wrote that empowers the citizens of Chester to have power of choice over the entrance of an industrial slaughterhouse like the one proposed to open near Doucette, at the city council meeting Monday evening, Aug. 13.

Petri invited Texas Rep. James White (R-Dist. 19) to come for this historic moment. When invited to comment, White said, “I am proud of you. Thank you for your service.”

The council approved the revised ordinance without any comment or descent. The ordinance exempted farmers’ or hunters’ own individual kill rooms, yet it requires any industrial facility to get a building permit, subject to a $1,000-per-day fine if building begins without a permit.

Most importantly, the ordinance allows a minimum of three voter-eligible citizens to petition the council with a complaint. Therein, the council would be obligated to hold a public hearing, and if 51% of the citizens vote against (or for) such a facility, the council would be obligated to deny (or approve) the building permit.
After the meeting, White was careful not to say yeah or nay on the ordinance itself, but said he resolutely supported the council’s rights to local control. White did say he thinks the ordinance is “clever.”

The council approved the upcoming election of officers which will include the positions of Petri, Patrick Cherry and Doug Hughes.

The past due accounts were discussed by City Secretary Annette Hickman and Assistand City Secretary Charlot Thomas, noting that two residents had come forth with the promise to pay soon, one by the 15. Petri was amicable to allowing that. On the others who had not paid, nor communicated, when asked by Petri, Councilman Doug Hughes, designee for the gas company relations, said they others should be shut off.

Hickman presented the Chester Gas Company audit by Axley & Rode for the council members to review. The audit conclusion was that they were “not aware of any modification that should be made.” The council did not take any action.

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Young named new WHS principal; tax rate, accountability discussed by WISD board

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By Chris Edwards
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Terry YoungTerry YoungWOODVILLE – Woodville High School recently announced the hiring of Terry Young as new WHS principal.

Young, a native of Browndell, holds degrees from Angelina College, Sam Houston State University and Abilene Christian University.

According to a news release from WISD, “It is Young’s belief that some of the most important challenges of a school leader include the creation of a safe and collaborative school culture, fostering one’s leadership capacity and overall improvement of the student experience through exposure to impactful educational opportunities with real-world applications.”

Young has a variety of classroom and administrative experience. He has served in the education field for 26 years as a teacher, coach, athletic director, assistant principal, principal and associate superintendent.

Board discusses tax rate, accountability figures

The Woodville ISD Board of Trustees voted to adopt a new tax rate and received preliminary district-wide accountability reports at its monthly meeting on Monday, July 23.

The Board voted to hold a public hearing to discuss the district’s proposed tax rate and proposed budget for the coming 2018-19 school year. The hearing was scheduled for Thursday, Aug. 30 at 7 p.m. The proposed tax rate for the coming school year is 1.115%.

The WISD Board also voted to approve its GASB 54 resolution for the current fiscal year. The resolution, according to WISD head of finance Cody Jarrott, is mandatory to adopt for audit purposes and allows the Board of Trustees to commit and assign any amount of funds.

The Board also heard preliminary state accountability results from Karen Ford, the district’s director of federal programs and curriculum. Ford said that overall, the district has been moving forward. “Our scores have increased significantly,” she said. She noted there were gains at the Intermediate level, however, in comparison to other districts and by the state’s metrics there are still improvements to be made.

The preliminary figures show the district testing at 57% below the state average in the approaching index, while combined tests show the district at 76% below state and 86% below in the masters index. WISD will receive its score of A-F in August. Ford said that judging by the preliminary figures, the grade for WISD will likely be a C.

The topic of teacher turnover rates was addressed when the trustees discussed the test scores and ways to get the scores higher. Board member Richard Shaw, Jr., said “We’ve got to find a way to get this machine functioning instead of always changing the parts out.”

“What can we do?” Ford asked. “We are moving forward…we’ve got to be driven by the data given to us.”

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