Central Health proposes tax rate increase for FY 2020-21 budget

Central Health building in east Austin
In order to generate revenue to fund the delivery of nearly $18 million in additional health care services, Central Health is looking to raise its property tax rate for the upcoming fiscal year. (Iain Oldman/Community Impact Newspaper)

In order to generate revenue to fund the delivery of nearly $18 million in additional health care services, Central Health is looking to raise its property tax rate for the upcoming fiscal year. (Iain Oldman/Community Impact Newspaper)

In order to generate revenue to fund the delivery of nearly $18 million in additional health care services, Central Health is looking to raise its property tax rate for the upcoming fiscal year.

Central Health’s proposed 2020-21 fiscal year budget was presented to the health care district’s board of managers Aug. 19 before it heads to Travis County commissioners and the public review and feedback.

Central Health will propose a tax rate of $0.110306 per $100 valuation, a 6.9% increase over the effective tax rate, budget documents show. The effective tax rate is the rate Central Health would have to set if its budget were to remain flat year-to-year.

That tax rate is also a 4.48% increase over last year's tax rate of $0.105573 per $100.

According to budget documents from Central Health—Travis County’s taxpayer-backed health care district—the average household valued at $355,379 will pay a tax bill of $392 under its proposed tax rate.

As outlined by budget documents from Central Health, the largest service increases in the organization’s 2020-21 fiscal year budget will come in the form of funding primary care services, specialty care services and hospital services.

Central Health has budgeted a $2 million expansion for outpatient and home-based dialysis treatments in the upcoming fiscal year.

“[Dialysis] is an area for our team [that] they’re really building from the ground up. A lot of pieces have to come together there,” said Jonathan Morgan, chief operating officer for Central Health. “The dialysis program for us can really help move services out of the hospital that don’t have to be there.”

Overall, the health care district has plans for substantial expansions of more than a dozen health care services, including some services influenced by the coronavirus pandemic.

In anticipation of prolonged need for primary care with social distancing measures in place, Central Health will expand its telemedicine capabilities by $500,000 next year, budget documents show. Central Health will partner that with a similar half-million increase to its referral management and patient navigation services.

Included further in the budget is a $750,000 expansion to fund psychiatric and substance abuse recovery services.

Central Health’s planners will spend the next month circulating its proposed budget to the public and Travis County commissioners. The budget will be proposed at Commissioners Court on Aug. 25—one day before the Central Health board of managers votes to set the maximum tax rate of $0.110306 per $100 valuation.

The public will have three opportunities to view the 2020-21 fiscal year budget in detail and provide feedback. Central Health is holding an informational session about the budget for the public Aug. 31.

On Sept. 2, the health care district will host a public input session, and one week later will hold its legally mandated public hearing for the tax rate and budget.

The Central Health board of managers will vote on the 2020-21 fiscal year budget Sept. 16. Travis County commissioners would then have to approve the budget Sept. 22.
By Iain Oldman
Iain Oldman joined Community Impact Newspaper in 2017 after spending two years in Pittsburgh, Pa., where he covered Pittsburgh City Council. His byline has appeared in PublicSource, WESA-FM and Scranton-Times Tribune. Iain worked as the reporter for Community Impact Newspaper's flagship Round Rock/Pflugerville/Hutto edition and is now working as the editor for the Northwest Austin edition.


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