Petition created to dissolve Graham Hospital District
A petition was created through a public Facebook group to dissolve the Graham Hospital District on Tuesday.
The Graham Hospital District was proposed and accepted in 2013 and since that time Graham Regional Medical Center has collected taxes within their district which spans outside of Graham. The creator of the public group Graham Texas Hospital Opinion, Lacy Sweeney Bond, who declined to comment, posted the petition on the group’s page on Tuesday and established a post office box in Graham to submit the petition.
The Facebook group was created on Sept. 12 due to the proposed tax increase by the Graham Hospital Board for the 2018-19 tax rate. The proposed tax rate increase from 0.388478 to 0.431590 per $100 valuation was not adopted and the board instead adopted the effective rate of 0.399657 per $100 valuation after two public hearings and a board meeting was attended by many opposing the increased tax rate.
According to the Texas Health and Safety Code the hospital board must order an election for the dissolving of the district and disposing of the district assets and obligations if they receive a petition requesting an election that is signed by a residents in the district equal to at least 15 percent of the registered voters in the district. This means 1,338 signatures are needed from the registered voters within the taxing districts.
This is not the first time a group has tried to repeal the taxing entity. In 2014, only a year after the approval of the district, more than 200 people attended a meeting by the group Young County Citizens for Responsible Taxation who were also seeking to dissolve the district and who in April 2014 started distributing petitions for the dissolution of the district.
The 2014 petition ultimately failed due to having an insufficient amount of signatures with 1,289 votes submitted and only 509 valid, which represented 43 percent of the required amount of votes.
The petition posted on Tuesday called ‘GRMC Hospital District Tax Repeal Petition for an Election/Vote for the Dissolution of this Tax in Graham, TX Young County,’ requires a date, a signature, print name, address, date of birth or Voter Unique Identifier (VUID) and a contact number.
“We the undersigned registered voters of the Graham Hospital Tax District, do herby petition for an election for the dissolution of the Graham Regional Medical Center Hospital Tax pursuant to 286.102-286.106 of the Texas Health and Safety Code,” the petition states.
Also posted with the petition on Tuesday was a list of all 8,916 registered voters within the hospital taxing district, which included their VUID, date of birth, full legal name, residential address and mailing address along with voter status. The list was up and downloadable for a short period of time before being removed from the public Facebook group page.
Under the Election Code all election records are public information which includes voter registration information, precinct election records (after the custodian of election records has completed the tabulation of the returns) and candidate applications. Any person may request a list of registered voters from the voter registrar.
What happens if the petition gets enough signatures?
If approved the election will be held no later than 60 days after the date the election is ordered and would not fall under the uniform election dates in the Texas Election Code. If a majority of the votes in the election are for dissolution of the district then the board will dissolve the district, but if the election fails then another election cannot be held for a year to the date of the previous election.
If dissolved the taxing entity would transfer land, buildings, improvements, equipment and other assets that belong to the district to the county or another governmental entity in the district or the board shall file a written report with the commissioners court setting forth a summary of the board’s actions in dissolving the district.
No later than 10 days after the commissioners court receives the report and sees that the necessary steps have been taken to dissolve the district, the court will approve the dissolving of the district.
For a transcript of a sit-down question and answer interview with GRMC CEO Shane Kernell please read the Oct. 6 edition of The Graham Leader.