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Hospital seeks $1.455-million in tax compensation

It looks like the tax rate that generates money for Citrus Memorial Hospital will decrease again this year.

The hospital's governing board last week asked the Citrus County Hospital Board to provide $1.455-million next fiscal year to help pay for capital projects and offset uncompensated care.

To bring in that revenue, the board would have to set the millage rate at 0.2648. The current rate is 0.2746.

One mill is equivalent to $1 of tax for each $1,000 of assessed, nonexempt real property. So the owner of a home assessed at $75,000 for tax purposes who takes the $25,000 homestead exemption would pay $13.24 under the proposed rate.

A taxpayer whose home is valued at $75,000 pays about $13.73 this year.

Of course, even if the tax rate decreases, a homeowner might pay more hospital tax if the assessed value of his or her property has increased.

The Hospital Board actually would have to collect more than $1.455-million. That's because the board must subtract reserves and commissions charged by the tax collector and property appraiser _ not to mention the amount of tax that won't be paid _ before it can turn over cash to the hospital.

The proposed millage rate would provide enough money to handle those costs and still provide the hospital with the money it has requested.

The Hospital Board will make the millage rate final in September after a public hearing.

Citrus Memorial used to be a public institution. In 1989, when it was restructured into a private, nonprofit institution, it was agreed the hospital would continue to receive some tax revenue each year.

The hospital treats patients regardless of their ability to pay, and any excess revenues each year are spent on improvement projects. The hospital expects to provide more than $11-million in uncompensated care during the 2002-03 fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1.

_ Jim Ross writes about medical issues in Citrus County. Reach him at 860-7302 or