Tag Archives: administration

MARICOPA COUNTY SUPERVISORS ARE MAGICIANS

BOS-specialhealthcare

Millions of Wasted Dollars Hidden by Supervisors’ Creation of Special Taxing Districts

Part 1 of a 3-Part Series

 

One of the biggest secrets the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors do not want you to know is how they farm off parts of county government that chronically lose money into separate “special taxing districts” where financial losses are all but hidden from the public.

Instead of making these sinkhole areas of county government financially responsible, the Supervisors hide them where taxpayers don’t hear about their losses, allowing them to freely continue their irresponsible spending unaccountable to anyone.

Sure, the County Supervisors brag that they never directly raise your property taxes because they shift responsibility to the special districts to raise your property taxes. 

Take for example this little nugget that did not get much attention.  Recently, the Special Healthcare District in June voted to raise your property taxes.  Did you hear about it?  Did you know about it?  No because the county’s special taxing districts fly under the radar of the taxpayers and largely aren’t covered by the media.

Over the next three installments, we will examine some of these districts and the millions of taxpayer dollars that are going down the drain.

 

Maricopa County Special Healthcare District

The Maricopa County Special Healthcare District (MIHS) was created a few years ago by a ballot proposition and consists of a healthcare insurance plan and a couple of hospitals.  However, MIHS was largely created because it continues to lose huge amounts of money.  The debt was siphoned off into a different district where its losses would go undetected and would not count against the county budget.  Once separated, it could have its own property tax separate from the general county budget.  This property tax could increase as much as its board deemed necessary because it was no longer accountable to the county.

Let’s take a closer look at the continual losses that MIHS posts, particularly the specialty clinics:

Simply eliminating dental, oncology, urgent care, the FHCs and Complete Care Comfort would have saved the district $8.3 million in 2008.

MCMCWe also looked at the county medical center and how it handles itself.  An overview shows us that the Maricopa County Medical Center accepts any patients for treatment, even if they refuse to pay.  An easy cost-cutting measure could be implemented if the district made a decision to turn away patients that refused to pay – which accounts for about 26% of its patients – and send them to other area hospitals that are better able to accommodate for their needs.  Yet, the MIHS Directors haven’t made that decision, so Maricopa County taxpayers are stuck paying for their care.

Now, let’s take a look at the MIHS District’s budget for the current year.  This year the district’s budget is $27.8 million.  However, there is a large problem going unnoticed.  You see there is this thing called a balance sheet where income and expenses are measured.  On one side, the expense side, we know the number is $27.8 million but on the income side, it is only projected to be $20.8 million with no hope of making it up by the end of the year.  Just to hammer home the point, that is showing that the MIHS District will be spending $7 million more than they have.

Does it get any better?  No.  The 2009-2010 budget is estimated to have an overall $44 million operating loss.  The Maricopa County Medical Center is facing decreasing operating revenues and the amount of debt is expected to increase.  Despite the fact that the Maricopa County Health Plan is seeing increasing revenues, its expenses are increasing as fast as revenues.  I think we can safely predict what the result will be – expenses surpassing revenues and creating more debt.  As it stands, the district owes $17 million to the county in debt service reimbursements for loans the county made to the district previously.

The hope that the debt will be cured by federal money is also not a possibility.  The district currently receives federal Section 1011 money for treating illegal immigrants, but that is being cut in half, from $5.4 million this year down to 2.7 million next year so either number of those treated needs to decrease or once again expenses will exceed revenues.

 

In Their Own Words

We tracked down what some have said about the MIHS District and its financial standings but it has left us scratching our heads.  See for yourself…

 

  • The board voted in favor of a tax levy for itself last year.  One of the directors, Gail Hendrix, objected to tax levy on the basis that it was a double tax.  Gail noted that since people are already taxed by the federal government to provide free healthcare to those who do not pay, why should people be taxed again at the local level?  Unfortunately, the CEO of the district and a trustee for the Don Stapley defense fund, Betsey Bayless, convinced the other board members to outvote Hendrix and approve the highest amount possible for the tax levy, 7.8%.  By the way, it is important to note here Betsey Bayless is making $350,000 per year and has no medical or healthcare education at all as far as we know.

We are only scratching the surface here but considering how expensive it is running the MIHS district and that costs and taxes continue to increase, does it really make sense for the Maricopa County government to run a healthcare district?  Especially since The County Supervisors have made it clear they are not going to provide any oversight, the MIHS District will not provide oversight, and the fact that taxpayers already pay federal taxes to provide for federally mandated healthcare services to indigents.  Seems to us that it just doesn’t make fiscal sense to tax property owners again to duplicate what could be done more efficiently in the private sector.

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We Told You So, Now Let’s Tell Them!

SellOut-1

News broke earlier today that Arizona Legislature leadership and the Governor had reached a deal on the budget.  Of course, knowing that the taxpayers do not want a tax increase, the Governor must have backed down, right?!  WRONG!!!

Instead legislative leaders have agreed to ask the voters to decide whether they want a tax increase on sales tax.  Here is the reason that Senate President Bob Burns gave (from the Capitol Media Service article by Howie Fischer):

Burns acknowledged that he has, until now, been adamantly opposed to hiking taxes, even to the point of simply referring the question to voters. But he said there really is no choice, saying even that $600 million in cuts, even coupled with federal stimulus dollars and other accounting maneuvers, is insufficient to deal with an anticipated $3 billion deficit.

“So my belief now is that we need to put that out there for the voters,” he said.

“If they pass the tax increase, obviously we’ll have more revenues,” Burns continued. “If they don’t I think that sends a pretty strong message to the Legislature that we’re going to have to make significant reductions.”

If they don’t, it will send a pretty strong message to the Legislature?!  We seem to recall 10,000 plus taking time out of their schedule on April 15th to protest big government, big spending, high taxes, and lack of accountability.  Now that wasn’t a message?

You know, we always hear that Republicans are going to be strong leaders for small government, less taxes and spending, etc.  Now we are hearing that they want maintain the size, growth, and spending of the current government.  Have they forgotten what they promised?

We are ripped!  Yet, we can still do something about it.  Everyone of us needs to get on the phone to our state legislators and demand that this tax increase NOT be sent to the ballot.  We have already spoken.  Call them today and tell them NO!

Arizona State Senate
Capitol Complex
1700 West Washington
Phoenix, AZ 85007-2890

Info Desk: 602.926.3559
Fax: 602.926.3429
Toll Free: 800.352.8404

Arizona House of Representatives
Capitol Complex
1700 West Washington
Phoenix, AZ 85007-2890
Info Desk: 602.926.4221
Toll Free: 800.352.8404

If you are unsure who are legislators are, please visit here: http://www.azleg.gov/

Please contact your legislator today!

Fast Facts from AZ Department of Education

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Lately, there has been a lot of talk about the legislature and budgets but I think it is important to note some fast facts.  Our facts today come from the AZ Department of Education and they are worth noting:

ADM went from 859,023 in 2004 to 951,117 in 2008.   This is an INCREASE OF 10.7%.

Number of Administrators went from 2,804 in 2004 to 3,305 in 2008.  This is an INCREASE OF 17.9%.

Number of Classified Managers went from 2,374 in 2004 to 3,030 in 2008.  This is an INCREASE OF  27.6%.

Number of Teachers went from 47,396 in 2004 to 53,883 in 2008.  This is an INCREASE OF 13.7%.

Average Teacher salary went from $42,324 in 2004 to $49,331 in 2008.  This is an INCREASE OF 16.5%.

Superintendents salaries went from $12,837,427 in 2004 to $19,188,361 in 2008.  This is an INCREASE OF 49.5%.

Total state aid went from $3,179,994,562 in 2004 to $4,453,747,156 in 2008.  This is an INCREASE OF 40%.

Based on this information from the Arizona Department of Education, it appears that those areas that saw the biggest increases were in administration not the classroom despite the dramatic increase of state aid.  Sometimes the facts just speak for themselves.