Bowie Memorial Hospital Tax Breakdown - Newschannel 6 Now | Wichita Falls, TX

Bowie Memorial Hospital Tax Breakdown

In just over a month, registered voters in Bowie will head to the polls. The election will determine the fate of the Bowie Memorial Hospital.

It's an issue that's divided a community. 

"I'm not against a hospital; I'm against the tax," said Crystal Prince, founder of the group "No BMH Bailout."

It's those who are against paying to keep the Bowie Memorial Hospital open, against others who says it's a life line, they don't want to be without.

"It just means the world for this city," said Bowie resident Frances Caswell.

As Election Day nears many factors still remain unknown. Right now, a temporary board has released a tax rate not to exceed 17-cents.

However, residents will be voting to approve a rate not to exceed 40-cents per $100 valuation.

 "So we're assuming that in May we're going to have an election, and we're assuming that all these board members... are going to run for election," said Ernie Parisi, interim CEO at Bowie Memorial Hospital.

The tax rate will not be set until a new board is elected after the November elections, in May. The 17-cent tax rate is what the temporary board decided is necessary, but that's not to say it can't change.

"They can set the initial rate at any point between 0 and 40 cents," said Parisi.

It's the uncertainty of a rate that's fueling the fire for the vote "No BMH Bailout" group.

 "Only a quarter of the county is going to carry the burden for the current debt and any existing debt," said Prince. "It's not fair and it's not affordable for a quarter of the county to pay this tax."

It's a tax that some, on a fixed income, say will be hard to come up with.

"Our fixed income pretty much covers our living expenses, but any taxes would have to come out of our savings," said Bowie resident Marie Trichka.

Residents 65 and older, in Bowie ISD and Gold-Burg ISD, will have to pay the special district tax, despite indications that they would freeze, like Montague County.

Although a freeze will not happen, residents 65 and older may be eligible for other exemptions. However, that will have to be determined by the elected board.

"What you have to understand, for a hospital, is the money that we collect from taxes is not the only thing that we're concerned about," said Parisi.

If the district is passed, Parisi plans to bring in more specialty physicians to increase revenue and keep the tax for residents down. Despite the unknown, other Bowie residents said whatever the price, they're willing to pay.

 "I called the first time I heard about it, and I called and said you can raise my taxes I'm for it," said Bowie resident Frances Caswell.

Caswell's home is just down the road from the Bowie Memorial Hospital. She said they've come to her aid too many times to count.

"The ambulance gets here so quick cause I'm so close and I've had to use them more than once," said Caswell."

Come Election Day, Caswell hopes the hospital stays afloat.

"That lots of people will vote for it and…to know that we just if we need someone real quick we can go to the hospital," said Caswell.

"It's not just a healthcare impact it's an economic impact for all those communities and they all suffer," said Parisi.

"I don't know how much impact it will have," said Prince. "I do know on the tax payer stand point, for an example, for me at the maximum rate that we're voting on, the 40 cents per $100, that's over $1,100 a year. That's $1,100 less than I have to spend in Bowie.

If the district passes, the tax would continue even if the Bowie Memorial Hospital closed down, according to Parisi. In that case, the tax would continue to pay off the hospitals debt. Once paid, the elected board would determine where that tax money would go. Parisi gave examples of using the funds for indigent care, clinics or any other healthcare needs.

Voter registration ends on October 5, 2015, and Election Day is November 3, 2015. 

Brittany Costello, Newschannel 6

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