Health district approves 2021 property tax rate

The San Juan Health District board approved a property tax rate on June 17 that will lower overall collections for the district, even while it will mean a tax increase for some property owners.

“The board wanted to do their very best to provide some level of relief,” explained health district CEO Clayton Holt of the decision.

The 2021 tax rate is five percent below the 2020 rate and will result in $7,000 in less total collections than in 2020.

While the overall tax collections will drop, individual tax bills may go up for homes because of a “factoring” of property values that increased home values.

See the related article on page A3 for more details.

Holt explained how the district uses its property tax, including up to $500,000 a year that is used for the district’s portion of indigent care costs. This covers the otherwise unreimbursed costs due to uninsured patients and Medicaid shortfalls.

“Indigent care cannot be paid by federal funds,” said Holt.

“The property tax is critical to us to achieve our long-term objective to have a sustainable system, including facilities and equipment,” he added

The health service district, which currently operates the San Juan Hospital, in addition to clinics in Monticello and Blanding, has experienced significant growth over recent years. Gross revenues grew from $17.5 million in 2016 to $26.5 million in 2019.

The COVID-19 pandemic caused havoc with the health system, which still experienced modest growth in revenues in 2020. Year-to-date revenues are approximately $500,000 higher in 2021 than in 2020.

A number of new initiatives are on the horizon for the health district, including the opening of the new Spanish Valley Clinic in the fall.

Holt said construction on the new clinic is progressing after a few minor delays. The hiring process for the new clinic staff has already begun.

A new provider, Dr Jeanne Wigant, will begin seeing patients on August 30 after completing an OB-GYN fellowship.

In addition, a new certified nurse anesthetist, Stettler Shumway, will begin work soon.

A new Tele-Oncology project is designed to ease the burden of travel for rural cancer patients.

The district is partnering with Intermountain Health Care (IHC) on the project, in which cancer care will be provided in the rural hospital under the tele-direction of Wasatch Front oncologists.

The oncologists will provide oversight of the hazardous compounding in the hospital pharmacy and in the infusion room in the hospital.

The district and IHC hopes for a September start date for the project.

Holt said the overall goal of these projects is to provide care close to home and to ensure that the primary care provider remains at the hub of the delivery of health care.

San Juan Record

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