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Letters to the Editor for Nov. 27, 2011


Ocala, FL - November 27, 2011

Published in the Ocala Star-Banner on Sunday, November 27, 2011

Fire sale proposal

Brad Dinkins' proposal to abolish all 16 Florida public hospital taxing districts and sell off their assets to the highest bidder is lacking in common sense and business acumen.

This is a financially irresponsible recommendation in protecting the assets of local taxpayers in the affected districts. The market value of these district hospitals will suffer tremendously if all are placed on the block.

Based on my previous experience as a Munroe Regional Medical Center board member, four changes are suggested that could be beneficial toward resolving the contention concerning hospital taxing districts:

1. Any and all recommendations from a hospital district to levy a tax to support the operation of the district hospital(s) must be approved by a voter referendum. Neither the county commission nor the hospital district shall levy any tax without voter approval.

2. Require that all taxes levied by a hospital district be included in the calculation of tax caps of the county where the district is located.

3. Changes No. 1 and 2 would effectively eliminate the need to designate a hospital taxing district as independent or dependent. This designation is currently a point of controversy in some districts.

4. All applicants for the position of district trustee appointed by county commissions must complete a thorough written application, undergo a background check and be interviewed in public by the county commissioners. No selection decision(s) can be made until at least two weeks after the public interviews to give the public time to provide comments to the commissioners concerning the applicants interviewed.

Perhaps Dinkins, as a member of the Commission on Review of Taxpayer-Funded Hospital Districts, should concentrate on looking for ways to bring the less-efficient public hospitals up to speed with those that are operating much more efficiently before putting 16 very valuable hospital districts in a fire-sale situation.

Stan Hanson