Voters to decide on increase of property tax rate cap for Crockett hospital

Photo: KTRE
Photo: KTRE

The Houston County Hospital has been closed for almost a year, but now voters are being asked to approve a proposed tax increase that could aid in it's re-opening.

The hospital shut it's doors after Little River Healthcare announced it was ending its affiliation with the district. The board is asking voters to approve an increase of $0.05 cents per $100 valuation.

After taxpayers voted down a proposed increase last fall, the hospital district is back with a new proposal. This time around the proposal includes increasing the current $0.15 cent tax rate by five cents per hundred dollar valuation, and giving permission to lift the cap to $0.35 cents.

"My point is, if they're only going to go up a nickel, then ask for a nickel on the proposal, don't ask for $0.35 cents," said Rhonda Brown, a candidate running unopposed for position 6.

Dina Pipes opposed the proposal and decided to run against incumbent Deborah Blackwell.

"We have too many farmers and ranchers and business people in town, we can't support anymore tax. We are all tax to death between property tax and all the other kind of taxes we pay," Pipes said.

Blackwell said the issue is put to voters to help decide the future for the hospital district.

"What we'll be able to do with that 5 cents is continue to fund the ambulance and of course pay our obligations and any contingencies," Blackwell said.

The Appraisal District said the value of the average home in Houston County is about $50,000. That average homeowner pays the hospital district about $75 in taxes each year under the current rate. The proposed five cent increase would raise that bill to $100.

"I can't go up on it like a doctor or a dentist, they can go up on their fees but I can't do that," said Ronnie Larue, a rancher. "I have to take what I get. And that means I'm going to have to cut back on something else because my taxes are going to go up."

Another resident said he supports raising the tax rate cap.

"It's not going to break anybody and it's insurance and this community really needs the hospital," said Chuck Kennedy, a property owner.

Early voting ends Tuesday. Election day is Saturday May 5.

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