UMC not pursuing tax hike after all

Taxes to the county hospital could still go up if UMC adopts the effective tax rate

UMC's tax rate

EL PASO, Texas - University Medical Center of El Paso is backing down from wanting to raise the tax rate.

But you may still see your taxes to the hospital go up.

UMC's Chief Financial Officer Dr. Michael Nuñez announced during a finance committee meeting Thursday that the hospital will look to adopt the effective tax rate of about 22 cents per $100 home valuation.

So the hospital will bring in the same amount in revenue this coming year as it did last year.

However, if your property value went up from last year, your contribution to UMC in tax dollars will, too.

Taxes collected by UMC on an average El Paso home ($125,000) is $268, before exemptions.

UMC CEO Jim Valenti told the committee Thursday afternoon that he and others worked on alternate plans after meeting with County Commissioners during a budget planning session Monday.

UMC went into the meeting looking for support behind an 8 percent tax increase.

UMC's budget has a shortfall of $30 million.

UMC says El Paso Children's Hospital owes it more than $70 million dollars that it will not be able to repay this year.

Children's has disputed UMC's figures.

Children's was supposed to pay back $30 million to UMC this year but only repaid $4 million.

Commissioners instead advised UMC to either increase revenue or reduce expenses to avoid a tax hike.

Valenti on Thursday said the hospital will look to reduce expenses, but didn't say how.

Finance committee chair Bill Hanson said he wasn't sure he agreed with the strategy, saying it's "dubious" Children's will repay its debt.

But Valenti said UMC is doing its best to support the children's hospital and it is not calling on El Paso Children's Hospital to repay the debt immediately because Children's is a "critical asset" to the community.

Valenti added that UMC is making sacrifices and compromises so it can work.

This tax rate would still need to be approved by the UMC board and County Commissioners before taking effect.

The finance committee will present the proposal to the UMC board on Wednesday.

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