UPDATE: The El Paso County Commissioners Court announced that the petition submitted regarding the Hospital District’s request for Certificates of Obligations had the required number of valid signatures.
“Having done so, the Commissioners Court is unable to vote on the request (for funding by the Hospital District),” a news release stated.
Following Monday’s announcement, The El Paso County Hospital District and its Board of Managers will be “in communication” with the Commissioners Court and the community and “will evaluate its options and next steps in addressing its capacity constraints,” the release stated.
“With more than 76 community meetings accomplished, El Pasoans shared their ideas, insights, and support. The request included projects aimed at addressing fundamental capacity needs for the health and welfare of the El Paso community. We look forward to our continued discussions with the community on how best to address our region’s current and future healthcare needs,” the release added.
EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – On Oct. 3, El Paso residents will find out if enough signatures were collected to push the University’s Medical Center’s multi-million dollar bond proposal to the ballot.
As we have previously reported, UMC is asking the County Commissioners to approve $345.7 million dollars in funds in order to improve and expand services within the El Paso region. Commissioners were set to vote on the item last month, but a local advocacy group, the Libre Initiative, submitted a petition that would force the item to the ballot.
The group needed the signatures of 25,000 registered voters in El Paso to make the move happen. If the signatures are all valid, the county would have to place the proposal on an upcoming election. If the signatures are not valid, the Commissioners Court will decide whether or not to issue the debt during the Oct. 3 meeting. If the proposal is approved, UMC says that property taxes would go up to no more than 2 percent. Home owners would pay about $55 per year on a home valued at $100,000 for the next 10 years.
Ryan Mielke with UMC says they will honor the decision. However they feel they are still not able to give the proper care that El Pasoans need, which forces families to have to look out of the city for special medical care, he said.
“We have people in our community that have cancer and need to leave our families and leave our homes, leave our community. That’s a stressful situation. We have health care needs in our community that aren’t being met that’s what this package was about that is a stressful situation.”
Director of The Libre Initiative, Karla Sierra, who are opposed to the bond, explains that the group is not against the expansion, but rather lack of communication between the Hospital District and the people of El Paso.
“This was never about quality medical care. This was about a lack of transparency and allowing our community to actually come together and when given the opportunity to inform them about what certificate of obligation are about and how it would affect them but also let them rally together and let them actually vote on this issue.”
Mielke said they will have to get with the board of directors and weigh all their options moving forward before returning to County Commissioners Court.
“We’re going to look at the need for cancer care and we’re going to look at the needs for critical care beds. We’re going to look at the need for expansion in the hospital. We will look at those options and work with the commissioners and you’ll probably see us again.”
If this item were to end up on a ballot box, Sierra encourages El Pasoans to vote on what they believe is the better option for the city.
“It’s not over. We still have to come out to the ballot box. Whenever it’s put on the ballot box and make sure we come out and vote against it or vote for it, depending on where you stand but at least give us the option to do that.”