published Wednesday, May 9th, 2012

Erlanger, assessor seek budget increases

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Erlanger hospital's interim chief executive officer asked Hamilton County commissioners to restore the full $3 million they used to give the hospital for treating the poor and uninsured.

The full $3 million for indigent care previously came through a sales tax agreement between the city and county, with each entity contributing $1.5 million. When that agreement ended last year, the county no longer picked up the city's share and the city declined to contribute $1.5 million.

President and CEO Charlesetta Woodard-Thompson appeared before commissioners Tuesday as part of this year's budget hearings for the county's 2013 fiscal year, which will begin July 1.

Last year the hospital's indigent care totaled about $82 million, and this year's projections show the possibility of the hospital reaching $92 million by June 30.

"We don't have two levels of care," Woodard-Thompson said. "That means we have to offset what we're doing in uncompensated care."

Erlanger lost $4 million in April, bringing its fiscal year losses to $17 million.

Hamilton County commissioners didn't indicate whether they would support the request, though many of them signaled their support for recent leadership changes.

"I do support you all and the moves that you're making," Commissioner Fred Skillern said.

Property Assessor Bill Bennett also asked for a hefty $588,751 budget hike. His office is set to conduct a state-mandated property reassessment next year. Bennett told commissioners that about 98 percent of that increase would fund the reappraisal.

"Unfortunately we have to make a sizeable request every four years," Bennett said.

Of his request, $363,750 would be for employee overtime. Bennett also is requesting $38,000 to replace two vehicles.

Only one group, the African-American Museum, did not appear before commissioners Tuesday. Commissioners expressed a desire to see and hear further information about the organization before approving an operations request for $62,653 and a capital request for $17,500 to replace a boiler.

about Ansley Haman...

Ansley Haman covers Hamilton County government. A native of Spring City, Tenn., she grew up reading the Chattanooga Times and Chattanooga Free Press, which sparked her passion for journalism. Ansley's happy to be home after a decade of adventures in more than 20 countries and 40 states. She gathered stories while living, working and studying in Swansea, Wales, Cape Town, South Africa, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Ga., and Knoxville, Tenn. Along the way, she interned for ...

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