Board rejects hospital district petition

Published 9:35 am Monday, April 24, 2017

By Bobby Tingle

The Orange Leader


Orange County Commissioners accepted a petition calling for a general election to establish a hospital district in Orange County. The Election Board rejected the petition because it did not include the birth dates of those who signed.

A second petition was begun, but the effort was terminated when it was determined that the petition must be printed in English and Spanish.

According to Commissioner Barry Burton, the county is expecting a legal petition to be submitted soon.

Burton hosted a town hall meeting Tuesday night at Orangefield Junior High with approximately 35 county residents attending.   The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the process of establishing a hospital district in Orange County.

Burton stated a hospital district petition generally defines three items.

The hospital district boundaries, tax rates and the makeup of the district board of directors.

The original petition set a limit of 18 cents per thousand dollars of property value, established a five-person board and included all of Orange County. Burton expects the next petition to define similar geographic boundaries, tax limits and board makeup.

If established as expected, county commissioners will appoint the initial hospital district board. Each commissioner will appoint one board member per precinct and the county judge will appoint an at large member, provided the petitions reads the same as the initial petition.

The State of Texas changed the statute in the current session allowing more flexibility in the timing of the election resulting from a legal petition. When a petition is validated the county must hold an election within 62 days of validation. The prior statute required the election be held within a 45 to 60 day window.

According to Burton, there are 254 counties in Texas of which 144 have established hospital districts.

In counties where the population is over 20,000 there are nineteen hospital districts. The average tax rate for those districts is 19 cents per $1,000 in property value.