September 21, 2020
Travis County Commissioners to vote on health care district’s budget Sept. 29
(Austin) – The Central Health Board of Managers voted to approve the Fiscal Year (FY) 20201 budget, which includes a more than $20 million increase over the current fiscal year to pay for health care services for Travis County residents with low income.
The budget now goes to the Travis County Commissioners Court for approval on Sept. 29, prior to start of the new fiscal year on Oct. 1.
The cornerstone of Central Health’s FY2021 budget is expansion of health care services, which includes primary care, specialty care, behavioral health, among other services. Of the entire $367 million budget, more than 96% ($354 million) is dedicated to health care delivery.
Fiscal Year 2021 Priorities
The Board of Managers previously adopted three objectives that guide Central Health’s budget and operations:
• Develop and execute health care delivery strategy based on people and place,
• Implement patient-focused and coordinated health care system; and
• Implement sustainable financial model for health care delivery through FY2024.
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Central Health also executed a Memorandum of Understanding to support CommUnityCare for COVID-19 efforts, including testing, treatment, equipment and supplies with coordinated funding from other local, state, and federal agencies.
“The demand for health care services for the people we care for is increasing. This trend, coupled with the COVID-19 pandemic, makes our work even more critical for Travis County,” Central Health & CEO Mike Geeslin said. “Nearly 500 residents took the time to participate in our budget process and we are grateful for their input. This budget is a commitment to ensuring all Travis County residents with low income have access to the best possible health care. We’re looking forward to the next year and taking our work to the next level.”
Central Health doesn’t directly provide health care services. Instead it pays for services through a network of contracted providers in the community. CommUnityCare, Central Health’s affiliated Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) system, provides the bulk of primary care health care services through a network of 27 health clinics.
The FY2021 budget provides $22.5 million for capital development including three new clinics in Eastern Travis County (Colony Park, Del Valle, Hornsby Bend).
“The budget supports a commitment the Central Health Board made to expand services in Eastern Travis County,” said Dr. Charles Bell, Vice-chairman of the Central Health Board. “The board made a promise to the community and this budget line item is part of keeping that commitment.”
Oher capital projects include electronic health records and technology and infrastructure enhancements, and redevelopment of the Central Health Downtown Property (formerly University Medical Center Brackenridge). Central Health is redeveloping and leasing portions of the Downtown Property to generate new sources of revenue to pay for health care now and in the future.
“We are the public stewards of our community’s tax dollars and we take this responsibility very seriously,” Central Health Board Chair Sherri Greenberg said. “We know the demand for health care services is increasing every year – even more so this year due to COVID-19. With a more diverse mix of revenue sources, Central Health won’t have to rely solely on property taxes to fund health care for the growing number of people who need our support.”
Property Tax Rate
The $367 million FY2021 budget is supported largely by property taxes. The board approved a property tax rate of 11.0306 cents per $100 of valuation, representing a total bill of $392 per year for the average Travis County home value of $355,379, or a $25 per year increase over FY2020. The proposed tax rate will result in an annual increase of about $25 for the average taxable homestead value of approximately $355,000 – a little more than $2 a month. For a home with an average taxable homestead value of $200,000, the annual increase is $14 a year.
Central Health has long maintained the lowest tax rate of any of the major urban hospital districts in Texas – 11.0306 cents per $100 valuation – a trend that continues into FY2021. Central Health also maintains the lowest rate of any of the Travis County taxing entities – Austin ISD at 56% of the total tax bill, City of Austin at 21%, Travis County at 14%, Austin Community College at 5%, and Central Health at 4%.