The Ritzville Adams County Journal - Eastern Adams County's Only Independent Voice Since 1887

By Brandon Cline
Managing Editor 

Revised hospital budget approved, draws scrutiny

 

Last updated 12/5/2019 at 10:46am



The Adams County Public Hospital District No. 2 Board of Commissioners approved a revised 2020 budget at its Nov. 21 meeting, which drew scrutiny from one of the board’s commissioners.

Chief financial officer Gary Bostrom explained during the meeting that the budget, as is the case in most years, needed to be revised after the district receives more information from the Adams County Assessor’s Office related to the district’s tax levies. The district is allowed to go up to 101% of the levy limitation calculation on its different tax levies, Bostrom said.

With the new information received by the county assessor’s office, Bostrom increased the projected tax levy revenue in the 2020 budget by $77,000. Of that increase, $40,000 was added to the regular levy, $10,000 was added to the GO levy and $27,000 was added to the EMS levy.

The board voted to approve the revised 2020 budget, but the vote was not unanimous. The revised budget was approved on a 4-1 vote, with commissioner Jerry Crossler opposing.

“I think we’re playing with numbers, and it’s coming out of the taxpayers’ pockets,” said Crossler following the vote. “I don’t see the need for us to have a 1% increase. The taxpayer has stepped up to the plate time after time. Give them a break once in awhile, because if no one takes the 1% it’ll drive the levy down … So I’m putting my two cents worth in, because I think they have done a whale of a job supporting us. Let us work a little bit better at making money and show the taxpayer what we’re doing, not trying to bail ourselves out by asking for another 1%.”

Board chairman Eric Walker acknowledged there was some merit to what Crossler was saying, but added, “on the other side of the coin, I think if it were me I’d rather wait until the hospital is showing in the black (a surplus or breakeven) and not in the red (a deficit). If we’re here 12 months from now and we’re cleary in the black, then for the next levy, yeah, we can talk about not taking so much. But I think right now, while we’re still keeping our fingers crossed, we’re still in the red by a healthy amount, so we can use what we get.”

Bostrom added that the reason the tax levy went up as much as it did is because of the tax revenue expected to be generated by the Adams Neilson Solar Farm in Lind, which has been operating since fall of 2019. Of the additional $77,000 being projected in tax levy revenue, about $68,000 is coming via new construction funds, while the rest, $9,000, is coming from the 1% increase.

Commissioner John Kragt asked Crossler that if the district didn’t request the 1% increase, could the taxpayers still not save any money because of state law requiring senior and junior taxing districts in the same county not to exceed the current total limit of $5.90 per $1,000 of assessed valuation. Kragt said according to his recollection that all of the taxing districts in Adams County had already hit that cumulative limit, which means if the hospital district didn’t receive the funds, it would simply just go to another taxing district in the county. Crossler agreed that it could.

 

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