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County eyeing health care fund for pay raises
Christus Spohn is apparently willing to allow commissioners to spend interest earned on account
Aug 20, 2008 | 610 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
posted Aug. 13 -

Christus Spohn leases the hospital from Bee County for about $900,000 a year.

Those two $455,000 lease payments are deposited into the county’s health care fund, which earns interest in excess of $100,000 annually.

Now it appears Christus Spohn is willing to turn the interest earned on the health care fund over to the Bee County Commissioners Court.

Bee County Judge David Silva shared the news with commissioners last week and again on Monday.

He said he and Precinct 1 Commissioner Carlos Salazar Jr. have met with Christus Spohn and asked them to allow the county to spend the interest accumulated in the health care account.

Silva said Christus Spohn agreed and “things are moving forward.”

The county will still not be able to spend the principal — the two $455,000 lease payments made by Christus Spohn each year, Silva explained.

The principal is set aside for indigent care and hospital improvements and essentially cannot be spent without the consent of Christus Spohn.

The health care fund has earned $149,000 in interest, Silva said.

He said he believes the county will receive the money in time to use it for the coming budget year, which begins Oct. 1.

Bee County commissioners hope to use the $149,000 in interest to finance pay raises for employees.

Commissioners are considering giving all employees a 3 percent pay increase and reinstating 100 percent of the longevity pay cut in half last year due to budget restraints.

Commissioners are also considering giving employees a 5 percent pay increase and keeping longevity pay at 50 percent.

The county offers longevity pay to employees each December to keep them working for Bee County.

Salazar said the $149,000 interest will not completely finance the 5 percent pay increase.

“We still have to find the rest of the money somewhere else,” he said.

He said he and his fellow commissioners have yet to know how much they will have to spend for the coming budget year, which will finance county operations from Oct. 1, 2008, to Sept. 30, 2009.

“We still don’t know what our revenue is going to be, what it is going to look like,” he said. “Once we know how much revenue we’ll have to spend, we’ll have a better idea of how much of a pay raise we can offer our employees.”

Commissioners will hold a budget workshop on Wednesday, at which time they expect to find out how much revenue the county anticipates having on hand over the next 12 months.

County leaders already know one important thing: they most likely will be operating in the black this coming budget year.

Commissioners started the 2007-08 budget year off with an $875,000 deficit but managed to whittle it down to $110,000 by the time they adopted the budget last September.

They were told this summer that the deficit has now fallen to around $50,000.

And County Tax Assessor-Collector Andrea Gibbud told commissioners on Monday that the county can expect to see property values in the county increased by $144,492 million, most of it due to an increase in mineral values, essentially oil and gas exploration.By SCOTT REESE WILLEY

Bee-Picayune staff

Christus Spohn leases the hospital from Bee County for about $900,000 a year.

Those two $455,000 lease payments are deposited into the county’s health care fund, which earns interest in excess of $100,000 annually.

Now it appears Christus Spohn is willing to turn the interest earned on the health care fund over to the Bee County Commissioners Court.

Bee County Judge David Silva shared the news with commissioners last week and again on Monday.

He said he and Precinct 1 Commissioner Carlos Salazar Jr. have met with Christus Spohn and asked them to allow the county to spend the interest accumulated in the health care account.

Silva said Christus Spohn agreed and “things are moving forward.”

The county will still not be able to spend the principal — the two $455,000 lease payments made by Christus Spohn each year, Silva explained.

The principal is set aside for indigent care and hospital improvements and essentially cannot be spent without the consent of Christus Spohn.

The health care fund has earned $149,000 in interest, Silva said.

He said he believes the county will receive the money in time to use it for the coming budget year, which begins Oct. 1.

Bee County commissioners hope to use the $149,000 in interest to finance pay raises for employees.

Commissioners are considering giving all employees a 3 percent pay increase and reinstating 100 percent of the longevity pay cut in half last year due to budget restraints.

Commissioners are also considering giving employees a 5 percent pay increase and keeping longevity pay at 50 percent.

The county offers longevity pay to employees each December to keep them working for Bee County.

Salazar said the $149,000 interest will not completely finance the 5 percent pay increase.

“We still have to find the rest of the money somewhere else,” he said.

He said he and his fellow commissioners have yet to know how much they will have to spend for the coming budget year, which will finance county operations from Oct. 1, 2008, to Sept. 30, 2009.

“We still don’t know what our revenue is going to be, what it is going to look like,” he said. “Once we know how much revenue we’ll have to spend, we’ll have a better idea of how much of a pay raise we can offer our employees.”

Commissioners will hold a budget workshop on Wednesday, at which time they expect to find out how much revenue the county anticipates having on hand over the next 12 months.

County leaders already know one important thing: they most likely will be operating in the black this coming budget year.

Commissioners started the 2007-08 budget year off with an $875,000 deficit but managed to whittle it down to $110,000 by the time they adopted the budget last September.

They were told this summer that the deficit has now fallen to around $50,000.

And County Tax Assessor-Collector Andrea Gibbud told commissioners on Monday that the county can expect to see property values in the county increased by $144,492 million, most of it due to an increase in mineral values, essentially oil and gas exploration.
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