City discusses mill levy at meeting
At last Monday’s city council meeting, Mayor Ravi Bhasker expanded on his complaints against the mill levy, which helps to fund Socorro General Hospital.
Bhasker said while mill levies to fund sole source hospital services are not uncommon in New Mexico, he hadn’t heard of any others that named a hospital specifically. He then returned to his three core complaints about the mill levy and SGH: financial transparency, board representation and ambulance support.
Again, Bhasker lamented the lack of transparency in how the hospital spends taxpayer money. However, he did raise one new question he hadn’t at the county meeting: Now that the loan that was used to build the hospital is paid off, how is that money being spent?
The mayor also delved into the Hospital Board representation issue, again suggesting that communities around the county elect representatives to the board. As it stands, the board is self-elected.
“As good as the people on the board are, it’s totally self-serving,” Bhasker said.
Bhasker felt that his suggestion to elect representatives to the board did not receive support from the commission.
Bhasker’s third concern was for ambulances. According to City Clerk Pat Salome, Socorro is one of the last cities with its own ambulance service — most now employ private sole-source contractors.
Collections for ambulance transfer services to Albuquerque hospitals have gone down 40 percent in the last fiscal year.
While Albuquerque hospitals do sometimes send ambulances to collect patients from Socorro, this only occurs when medically necessary, such as when paramedic assistance will be required for the drive up.
Bhasker plans to speak again at the upcoming county commission meeting, when the early vote for the mill levy will be discussed again.