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MVH to St. Charles

by: HOLLY M. GILL - Property owners in the Mountain View Hospital District are still paying taxes to the district, despite the transfer of the district's assets to St. Charles Health System. The funds are paying for a variety of ongoing costs for the district, which will eventually be decertified.As tax statements arrived in the mail over the past week, some Jefferson County residents wondered why there is still a bill for a hospital levy.

After Mountain View Hospital transferred its assets to St. Charles Health System and became St. Charles Madras in January 2013, many assumed that the hospital district's levy would be immediately discontinued, but the district has business and expenses that remain this year.

The board continues to meet periodically to oversee the transition, which has incurred expenses including accounting, auditing, insurance, supplies, bank and legal fees, advertising and printing costs as anticipated last year.

Although the board has the authority to collect up to 25 cents per $1,000 of taxable assessed property value, the rate dropped this year.

"Based on their estimate of expenses, they felt a lower rate than last year would be adequate," said Jeanie Gentry, CEO of St. Charles Madras.

Last year, for example, residents of Madras paid out just over 23 cents per $1,000 for the Mountain View Hospital District levy, and other residential areas in the county paid 24-25 cents per $1,000. This year, the rate has fallen to under 20 cents per $1,000 for Madras residents, and just over 23 cents per $1,000 for other residential areas.

For a $100,000 home in Madras, that means that the tax fell from about $23.21 last year to $19.74 this year.

"The estimate we have is that the district will receive approximately $285,000 during the coming tax year," said Gentry.

Typically, the hospital has received about $300,000 per year from the levy, which amounted to a little more than 1 percent of the hospital's $25 million operations budget.

In a letter to the editor this week (on page 4), the Mountain View Hospital District Board of Directors explains that the tax money taken in will not go to St. Charles, but will instead be held in a separate account.

"These funds must be audited yearly to ensure they do not go to St. Charles Health System or anyone on the board," the letter noted.

In a few years, if there is money remaining in the account when the district's business is completed, "The elected district board has full authority to decide where any leftover funds will go when the district is decertified," Gentry said.

District residents will have to vote to decertify the district. "Any funds left can be used on a community health project, or go into the Jefferson County general fund," according to the board.

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