UMC Isn’t Going To Ask To Raise Your Taxes This Year – What About Next Year?
The bad news is, earlier this week, University Medical Center told El Paso County Commissioners Court they needed an 8 percent property tax increase to cover a $30 million budget shortfall because El Paso Children’s Hospital can’t pay them $70 million dollars they owe UMC.
The good news is, UMC is now backpedalling and saying they won’t ask for that increase – this year. But what about next year?
There are a lot of questions that UMC officials need to answer:
1. Why are UMC and Children’s so far apart on how much Children’s owes UMC? UMC says $70 million, Children’s says $30 million – if you guys can’t even keep those numbers straight, why should we give you more money to play with?
2. UMC CEO Jim Valenti says he worked on alternate plans after El Paso County Judge Veronica Escobar said he shouldn’t expect County Commissioners court to vote yes on a tax increase. Why wasn’t Valenti working on ‘alternate plans’ when it was clear that UMC was hemorrhaging millions of dollars in just the 2 years of Children’s operation? And why should we give you more money to play with?
3. How the hell do you get into a $30 – 70 million dollar hole in 2 years? Did Children’s really treat that many kids and get stiffed on that many hospital bills? If they did, didn’t it occur to someone that figuring out how to get paid is an essential part of running a hospital? If it didn’t occur to someone, why the hell are we trusting you with millions upon millions of taxpayer dollars? And why should we give you more money to play with?
4. Valenti said UMC is doing its best to support the children's hospital and isn’t asking El Paso Children’s Hospital to repay the debt immediately because Children's is a "critical asset" to the community. I think what he meant was Children’s is in critical condition. And, really, is giving you more money to play with going to make a difference?
Finally, Mr. Valenti and UMC officials, what kind of budget abyss are we going to find ourselves in next year? You might be backing off on a tax increase this year, but it's clear from your history that you guys can't manage money, and that can only mean that next year you'll be asking for - and probably getting - a tax increase. Your handling of the hospital and taxpayer money would be a joke if it wasn't millions of taxpayer dollars that have been mismanaged. I can guarantee you the taxpayers of El Paso aren't laughing. You're lucky you work for a taxing entity and not a real business that has to either make money or go under. You have taxpayer pockets to pick, so it looks like you'll still get to keep your hospital.
Shame on you all.