JETMORE — The Hodgeman County Health Center put in a request of $1.5 million to county commissioners that has raised concerns with a potential tax hike for residents.

On Wednesday, an informational meeting was held in Jetmore for the public to ask questions regarding the No Funds Warrant request.

"The hospital administrator came to us a month ago with the request for the $1.5 million," Hodgeman County Commissioner chair Marsha Ewy said. "We are small community and just past a tax raise in the 2018 budget, so the public raised concerns on what it would do to additional taxes."

In the past, the Hospital has received "five or six" no-fund warrants.

For hospital administrator Terri Deuel, who took over in 2009, the no funds request also came after a threat of a nurse walk out that took place during a Labor Day meeting.

It was reported that the walk out was due to the rumor of the hospital becoming broke by the end of September.

The facility has $1.5 million in collections (owed to hospital). Currently there is enough in funds for three more payroll cycles.

"Nurses during the meeting also raised concerns about Medicare cuts they have to deal with and its effect on a small hospital and services," Ewy said.

According to Ewy, Stacey Briggs, financial officer of the hospital distributed a handout prior to the informational meeting.

The handout states that, the Hodgeman County Health Center has had to cut four office staff positions; one medical records position; have collection balance for in-patient at $353,163.81; outpatient collection of $948,026.77; collection balance of OShea of $151,224.39 and a Spearville collection of $1,465.68 making the collections total, $1,466,880.65 for the non-profit hospital.

"Either people cannot pay their bills or choose not to pay their bills," the handout read.

The handout also stated a private pay balance of $507,440.73 ($330,743.67 being older than 120 days with $84,011.09 between 91-120 days; $32,076.17 61-90 days and $48,345.45 31-60 days).

The private pay balance also has a 2016 bankruptcy of $12,021.89, 2016 bad debt write-off of $223,112.83 for a total of $235,134.72 that will not be collected.

So far for 2017 there is $27,023.83 of bankruptcy and $265,745.09 of bad debt write-off for $292,768.92 in total.

The handout also said that from December 2015 to December 2016, funds used for agency staffing was cut by 32 percent and 28 percent was cut from July 2016 to July 2017.

With the taxes issue, Hodgeman County Clerk Sarah Rains said, "They would vary throughout the county and we wouldn't be able to have an exact number until November and even then it would be a general estimate.

"The mill levy would also depend on if the warrant would be for 4 years or 5 years."

Rains added, where the budget increase stands now, the mill levy would be raised between 2-10.

With the No Funds Warrant added, there would be an additional 9-11 mill levy increase on top of the 2-10.

The next Hodgeman County commissioners meeting is scheduled for 10 a.m. at the Hodgeman County Courthouse.

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