Mill levy critical to county health

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Socorro General Hospital administrator Bo Beames has been covering a lot of ground lately. He has been bending the ear of anyone who will give him a minute.

Beames has been sharing information about an issue important to every resident of Socorro County, the mail-in election on continuing the Socorro County hospital mill levy.

Ballots have been mailed out to every eligible voter in the county with the question worded thus:

“Shall the Board of Commissioners of Socorro County, New Mexico, continue for a period of eight (8) years to levy a property tax in the amount of four and one quarter (4 1/4) mills for the operation and the maintenance of Socorro General Hospital and any other county facility eligible to receive funds under the Hospital Finding Act in order to make hospital services available to care for the sick of Socorro county pursuant to the terms of a health care facilities contract?”

Beames is quick to remind voters that voting in favor of the mill levy will not raise taxes as it has already been in place since 1980.

SGH receives around $900,000 per year from the mill levy, Beames said. All of this money goes into a Federally Funded Sole-Source Provider Program, which matches the mill levy money at a two to one ratio. As a result, the hospital receives a total of around $2.7 million in annual funding as a result of the mill levy.

The money has to provide for direct patient care. SGH uses it to help defray the cost for those who can’t afford care due to insurance issues.

In Socorro County, the recent Community Health Needs Assessment reflects 50 percent of households have an income of less than $30,000 which is 135 percent of the federal poverty level.

The need for the funds provided for by the mill levy and the provider program is great in Socorro County.

The assessment shows needs differ in the different county communities, from Socorro to Alamo Navajo reservation to Veguita, but all are in need of health care resources.

The mill levy in question is at a rate of 4.25 mills, or 0.425 percent of property value, per year. This election would continue the mill levy for another eight years.

County voters need to make their voices heard and support this levy for the sake of their parents, children, uncles, aunts and grandchildren, as well as themselves.

Ballots must be received at the Socorro County Clerk’s office by 7 p.m. on Sept. 4 to be counted. Eligible voters who may have forgotten to update their voter information and did not receive a ballot in the mail can pick one up at the clerk’s office, Socorro County Courthouse, 200 Church St., Socorro.

Those who received their ballots should mail them out soon or just hand deliver them to the clerk’s office to ensure they get there by Sept. 4.