MCH board joins in on TIRZ

first_img WhatsApp Previous article011819_BYNUM_NEW_BUILDING_14Next articleECTOR COUNTY RESTAURANT REPORT: Dec. 20 through Jan. 3 Digital AIM Web Support Facebook Local News By Digital AIM Web Support – February 24, 2021 Facebook Twitter TAGS  center_img WhatsApp Pinterest Twitter MCH photo logo In a 5-2 vote the Ector County Hospital District board of directors approved of 75 percent participation in the Downtown Odessa Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone. Board members Bryn Dodd and Don Hallmark voted against the item Tuesday night and board members Mary Thompson, Mary Lou Anderson, David Dunn, Richard Herrera and Ben Quiroz voted in favor. Odessa City Council approved an ordinance to create a TIRZ which will run from Second Street to Eighth Street and Adams Avenue to Bernice Avenue. Within those boundaries, property tax revenues will be frozen at a base level for a 20-year period and as property taxes rise as the area is developed, revenues collected above that level would be used for further projects during the course of the 20-year period. “I support the downtown initiative and everything that they’re doing, I think it’s gonna be great, but I have concerns with the hospital’s financial state. I don’t think it’s fiscally responsible for us to be paying into this TIRZ when our financial state is just now starting to improve, and that’s what it really boils down to,” Dodd said. Historically, she said, it hasn’t worked out will when taxing entities have tried to help one another and they “don’t play well together.” While the hospital will be paying into this and participating in this, Dodd said she feels like they won’t get anything in return. “I have a concern that we’re going to need assistance in the future doing things to our hospital, updating our ER and other ventures (MCHS President and CEO Rick) Napper presented to us,” she added. Dodd said when she was elected, she promised the people who elected her that she would be fiscally responsible with the taxpayer’s money — a huge responsibility shared by the board. “For me, my vote, that wasn’t a good decision with the money. I did what I felt I promised the citizens of Odessa I would do.” “I voted no because the fiscal responsibility of the whole mess,” Hallmark said Wednesday. Hallmark said before they start intermingling money between taxing entities, he would have liked to start putting money aside for a rainy day fund and putting it toward equipment the hospital needs. “I don’t see how it’s relevant to change anything when the downtown is going to be revitalized anyway,” he said. While there have been several attempts to revitalize the downtown area in the past, Hallmark said this time he believes it’s going to happen whether the hospital district is part of it or not with the convention center being constructed and the Odessa Housing Authority doing several things to make downtown better. Quiroz said he believes the downtown area needs to succeed in order for the hospital to succeed and if the center of the community starts to migrate to the east side, or away from where the hospital is right now, it would devastate the hospital. “It’s strategic to think 10, 20 years down the line,” Quiroz said, adding that partnering with all the other taxing entities helps them all accomplish the goal of revitalizing downtown together. In addition to the City of Odessa and ECHD, Odessa College has also said they will participate in the TIRZ. The taxing entities could begin collecting money gathered from the TIRZ in January 2020. A board is being created comprised of representatives from each of the taxing entities involved. Odessa City Council appointed seven people to the TIRZ board Tuesday to represent the city. “That money is well spent in us being able to promote Odessa and our downtown becoming a source of pride,” Thompson said. “I think we need to support the city.” Thompson, the board president, said participating in the TIRZ will also give the hospital a voice on the TIRZ board when it comes time to determine how the money collected will be utilized. The money from the TIRZ can only be used for public improvement. “It will clean up the surrounding area and make it more attractive for physicians that are willing to come and practice here,” she said. “Because the hospital is in that area, that TIRZ area, I think it only makes sense that we be a part of that.” Thompson added it is only a small amount of money that will be going toward the TIRZ and there are several periods of time throughout the 20-year-period they can choose to opt out. Information presented to the board Tuesday estimated that after 10 years, if the hospital district collected $704,144 in property taxes within the zone’s boundaries, about $528,108 would go to the TIRZ and the hospital district would keep $176,036. The estimations were based off the current tax rate per $100 valuation with annual 2 percent increases and also assumes an initial valuation increase of $45 million with property valuations increasing 5 percent annually, the information stated.CONFLICT OF INTEREST Quiroz also discussed how he consulted with multiple attorneys about whether or not to vote on the hospital district’s participation in the TIRZ since he owns property within the zone’s boundaries located at Third Street and Muskingum Avenue. Quiroz said the property is land that has not been developed. “I’m not personally benefitting from a vote like that,” he said Wednesday, adding that it is for the betterment of the hospital and betterment of downtown Odessa. Quiroz said he consulted with the hospital attorney, city attorney and his own personal attorney before deciding to vote on the item Tuesday. “As an elected official I hope you will do what’s in the best interest of the hospital, not best for you. We have to set aside what is best for us, personally, and I really feel like we’re doing that,” Thompson said. Hallmark and Dodd had different opinions on the matter. “My issue with that was that there were plenty of public comments to the contrary,” Hallmark said. Dodd said she personally felt it was a conflict because the property he was speaking of, he could potentially profit off of, depending on when he bought it, and there is also a second property he owns directly across the street on the border of the TIRZ, a residential facility where he will be renting space, that he will definitely profit off of if downtown is revitalized. “That’s an investment for him,” she said. “I do feel like that’s a conflict.” Thompson said Dodd had a conflict of interest while voting on retiree-related items, but Dodd said her father, who was a hospital retiree and a plaintiff in a case against the hospital, stepped away from the lawsuit so she could vote and it would not be a conflict of interest. Anderson’s daughter, who was also originally part of the lawsuit, did the same, Dodd added. “I don’t have any personal gain for any decisions made with the retirees,” she said, adding that Quiroz does have financial gain with the TIRZ. Dodd added that she felt like Quiroz did take the proper steps in talking to several attorneys, including the hospital attorney who was in favor of him voting, and at the end of the day they all just have to agree to disagree to do what’s best for the hospital and the community. The board also set the date for the next election for the ECHD board of directors for districts 2, 4 and 6. Election Day will be May 4. The deadline to file is 5 p.m. Feb. 15. Board members Anderson, Dunn and Thompson currently hold those seats. MCH board joins in on TIRZ Pinterestlast_img

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