The future of local medicine has been a hot topic of late, as supporters of a new hospital facility in Liberty and a clinic in Dayton have been hard at work trying to convince voters to back their plans. There have already been several public forums to explain Props A and B to the area community and address questions, which would call for the passage of a $43 million Bond and a nine-cent tax increase for every $100 of valuation.
Recently, that proposal has captured the ire of a group of citizens referring to themselves as The Liberty PAC. They have taken to the streets in opposition to the proposed bond referendum and property tax increase. The group has launched a website and begun to place campaign signs throughout the district, all with the message, “It’s OK to Vote No,” as they make their case.
The Liberty PAC contends that Props A & B will do little more than raise taxes, deter private healthcare investment, hinder existing medical practices, and burden taxpayers with long-term tax and interest rates.
“The Liberty PAC is in favor of high quality, local healthcare. Our volunteer organizers have a great deal of respect and admiration for the individuals serving as directors of the Liberty County Hospital District No. 1. However, we are also opponents of rising taxation,” according to the group’s website.
Tommy Brents is a member of the organization, which he states is a group of concerned community members. He cited three specific concerns they have for the propositions. The first was the opposition to raising taxes, the second was specific to voters in the City of Liberty, and finally, the City of Dayton.
“Many of our citizens, specifically those within the City of Liberty, are seeing many taxing entities raise the amount of money collected from each rooftop this year. The hospital district, the school, the county, the city, and even the water district. While we appreciate the intentions behind these proposals - i.e., providing medical care - such steps are best handled by the private sector. The state is replete with failed hospital districts who take out bonds to build new hospitals, keep increasing taxes, and then file for bankruptcy. This is not the sound way to provide medical care in our community,” said Brents.
As for the City of Dayton, where taxpayers represent 33% of the hospital district’s tax base, there are concerns about the necessity to take on further tax increases for the district, believing that the growing area will see other private options soon.
The remainder of the hospital tax base comes from Liberty ISD, which represents 35%, and the residents in Devers ISD, Hull-Daisetta ISD, and the area south of HWY 105 in Hardin ISD make up the remaining 32%.
“Dayton taxpayers are upset, as they have been courting private sector hospitals to come with the expansion of 99. The projected growth of the Dayton area certainly makes a strong case for such an investment. When that materializes, even the residents in Liberty or further south will likely opt to travel to Dayton for the brand name hospital rather than the government-run hospital in Liberty. It’s a trust factor. Yet, we’re still paying for it,” explained Brents.
Whether a private hospital will be built in the Dayton area is yet to be seen; however, it has undoubtedly become one of the more important talking points amongst opponents of a new taxpayer-funded hospital facility in the area.
According to some supporters of a new hospital, there has also been talk of misinformation from district opponents about the facts regarding the new facilities.
“I’d agree there has been some misinformation, and the Liberty PAC corrects misinformation regardless of which side is saying it. Asking questions and highlighting information available to the public is not ‘misinformation.’ Voters should know exactly what they are voting for, not just the talking points and assurances of current leadership,” said Brents.
Anyone looking to do more research on the mission of The Liberty PAC is encouraged to visit their website at allianceforresponsiblecare. com. For more information on the proposed new hospital, you may also visit allianceforbettercare.com.
Anyone interested in learning more or asking questions about the proposal is encouraged to attend an upcoming forum; the next gathering will be at the Dayton Community Center this Thursday, Oct. 14, at 7 pm.