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Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

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Lake Shore Hospital Authority Chairman Brandon Beil: "I will recommend no tax for next year."


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COLUMBIA COUNTY, FL – Monday night's Lake Shore Hospital Authority meeting brought no surprises. The Board of Governor's appointees was mum about the impending exit of Community Health Systems, the operator of the Authority owned hospital, Shands At Lake Shore.

It's Tax Time

With tax time just around the corner, half way into the Hospital Authority meeting, Manager Dale Williams reminded the Board that it needed to begin thinking about setting next year's tax rate, advising the Board that the millage will be on the agenda for the Board's July meeting.

Other than Chairman Beil, Board member Lory Chancy was the only one who commented telling the Board that it had a lot of upheaval on the horizon. "If we set the tax rate at 1.5 [mils] you can always bring it down, but if you put it lower, you cannot raise it, no matter what the circumstances are. I think the general public can look at what the trim notice says and then be happy when it's less," she said.

Board Member Dr. Mark Thompson had no comment, as did Stephen Douglas and Jay Swisher, even though the Authority is sitting on a record stash of cash of over $16,000,000.

The Chairman Speaks

Earlier today your reporter spoke with Chairman Beil about the tax rate and the future of the Authority and Shands At Lake Shore.

Your reporter said, "On Monday night you said you would like to see a budget with a zero millage rate. The Authority is sitting on millions in the bank. Have you given any more thought to next year's taxes?"

Chairman Beil answered, "Everyone has been hit hard this year with unforeseen circumstance and many of the citizens of Columbia County are hurting. The Authority has enough in reserves to meet its obligations for next year and I will be recommending to the Board at its next meeting that the Authority not levy any taxes for next year."

Your reporter followed up, "It is common knowledge at this point that Community Health Systems wants out of its lease and is going to vacate the hospital. Do you have any thoughts on this?"

Chairman Beil answered, "As you have reported, the Board has known about this for only a short time. Shands At Lake Shore, as we have known it over the years, looks as if it is going to change. I am committed to exploring all options alone and with the Board to have the Lake Shore Hospital Authority continue to serve the indigent and other members of the community in new and possibly exciting ways."

Mr. Beil concluded, "I look forward to listening and working with the community and the Board to explore all avenues and ideas to make the Lake Shore Hospital Authority and the hospital something the whole community can be proud of."

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