Hockley County Commissioners have started budget talks for the 2019 fiscal year.
Commissioners are reviewing a request from Covenant Hospital Levelland, who has requested over two million dollars in addition to their current $600,000 received each year from the county.
Covenant officials discussed alternative health models with Commissioners. One of those models include an outpatient health system. It could include a free standing ER as well as medical clinics, it was noted that currently the average census of inpatient patients at the local hospital is 4, however, during the cold and flu season it increases to over 15. It was also noted that if the inpatient census falls below 2 the hospital could lose their medicare contract. Covenant Health says the additional two million dollars is needed to help the facility break even. Hospital officials reported a loss of over two million dollars in 2017. Officials told county commissioners they do not expect to solve the problem this year, however, they said by this time next year they need a solution in place. Covenant Health stated that the local hospital is sustainable for the short term, however, long term changes are needed. Covenant Hospital and Covenant Levelland EMS employs approximately 190 people.
The District Attorney’s office has also requested that money be put back in his budget to pay for an Assistant Attorney in his office. It was noted this was taken out of the budget for the current fiscal year as the position was not needed, however, it is needed now. The sheriff’s office also discussed some items that may be needed in the future. Those include some unfunded mandates that may be enacted. They also will be replacing some Kevlar bullet proof vests, as some are reaching their end of life. They also will be replacing some video cameras which was damaged by a power surge.
Hockley County will continue evaluating the budget for 2019 in the coming weeks. The new budget will be adopted in late 2018. Commissioners like other taxing entities are waiting on final property tax values to be released by the appraisal office in late July.