Preliminary budget forecasts from Central Health show the health care district anticipates a slow down in tax revenue collection growth and a decrease in new construction revenue estimates as the entity plans for a potential economic downturn due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Chief Financial Officer Jeff Knodel and Deputy Chief Financial Officer Lisa Owens outlined the Travis County health care district’s financial outlook in a May 27 presentation to the Central Health board of managers.

“Our projections around tax revenue are very conservative. ... We do anticipate [tax collection revenues] will slow down significantly,” Owens said.

The budget presentation is the first given to the board of managers during the budget process. At this time, all budget forecasts are preliminary and subject to change, Knodel said. Central Health managers are not scheduled to adopt the district’s fiscal year 2020-21 budget and tax rate until mid-September, according to Central Health documents.

Knodel said Central Health staffers are currently recommending the health care district keep both its homestead exemptions and property tax increase rate at their current levels heading into FY 2020-21.

Central Health’s tax rate currently sits at $0.105573 per $100 valuation, which was a 6.9% increase over the effective tax rate last year. The effective tax rate is a rate that would generate the same amount of tax revenue if applied to properties taxed in consecutive years, according to the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts.

This year, staff is recommending a 6.5% increase over the effective tax rate, Knodel told managers.

That increase comes as Central Health budget planners forecast an estimated increase of demand for some of its health care services amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“We added an inflator for additional enrollment and telemedicine capacity as a result of the economic downturn,” Owens said. “At this time, there are many unknowns.”

According to Central Health documents, the health care district further plans to open three new clinics by FY 2023. The health care district expects to issue debt to pay for the delivery of those clinics and development of the Brackenridge campus.

Budget discussions are scheduled to continue through the summer to align Central Health’s budget for FY 2020-21 and beyond with the district’s strategic plans. The first public hearings for the new budget and property tax rate are expected to take place in early September.