Pat Moyer, the health care facility’s chief financial officer, told the Herington City Commission on Tuesday that non-operating revenue is on the positive side of the ledger by $92,889 for the current fiscal year, which ends June 30.
This was made possible by a grant from the City of Herington, a bio-terrorism grant and donations from the HMH Foundation totaling $260,897. That amount helped partially offset a net loss from operations of $168,008.
Although the net loss figure isn't positive in itself, it's an improvement from the $257,424 in operational losses reported during the previous fiscal year. The key issue is what the hospital's revenues and expenses will be during the remaining three months of the fiscal year.
Moyer also reviewed with the commission information regarding patient billing, accounts receivable, accounts payable, in-patient census numbers and out-patient services provided. In general, there was improvement in all areas, except for a slight decline to 6 for the average daily in-patient daily census.
The HMH Board of Trustees is working with Moyer and hospital chief executive officer Mike Ryan to develop next year's budget, which is to be presented for approval to the commission in June. A strategic planning process also has been started, Ryan said.
However, Moyer said the hospital would not close if the budget was not approved prior to July 1. She said there is enough cash on hand to continue daily operations, but not enough to initiate needed capital improvement projects.
It had been noted earlier in Moyer's presentation that the grant made by the city to the hospital had been replaced in a revolving fund to provide on-going support for the foreseeable future.
Commissioner D.J. Neuberger wasn’t convinced that this provided an adequate short-term solution to the hospital's financial woes. He noted that utility rates charged by the city will probably increase and gradually outrun the monies in the revolving fund.
He asked Ryan what would be done at that point.
Ryan replied, “I don’t know.”
The remaining four commissioners attempted to take a positive approach to the situation, noting the hospital board, commission and community members were working to together to develop a long-term solution.
Commissioner Neuberger suggested a town hall meeting be scheduled to allow the general public to be informed about the HMH budget and other financial matters.
Newly seated commissioner Beth Wade reminded him that hospital board meetings are open to the public.
Mayor Robbin Bell also noted that a special commission meeting could be called after the governing body reviews the hospital’s proposed budget and before July 1.
Prior to the presentation related to finances, Ryan questioned why the hospital was not notified several weeks ago when sulfuric acid flowed from a leak in a tank car in the Union Pacific Railroad yard in Herington to Lime Creek. He also questioned the city's policy regarding emergency situations.
Herington fire chief Ken Staatz, who had already responded in writing to Ryan, said UP hazardous materials spill team members, personnel from Dickinson County Emergency Management and HFD personnel had made the determination there had not been the need to notify HMH because it was their collective opinion there was not a general threat to public health.
Chief Staatz said persons residing downstream from the spill had been notified.
As the discussion wound down, the fire chief agreed to contact DCEM and ask that the Herington hospital be included in emergency situation notifications.
Ryan made it clear he was not offering general criticism of the qualifications of the persons who had dealt with the spill.
The HMH CEO did criticize a commissioner, who he did not name, for “harassing” HMH staff members while at the hospital and at other locations.
Ryan alleged the commissioner was asking what the HMH administration was trying to hide from the commission regarding operation of the health care facility.
Stating he understood that the commission has an oversight role regarding the municipal hospital, Ryan said questions regarding business operations needed to be directed to him, not staff members.
In another matter, the commission reviewed a proposed amendment to an ordinance to allow the operation of utility vehicles, such as golf carts, Mules, Gators and other off-road vehicles on city streets during daylight hours.
The amendment included wording that operators would be required to have a valid driver's license and that vehicle insurance would be required.
A sticking point in the discussion developed when it was noted the vehicles would be required to be equipped with headlights, brake lights and turn signals.
Mayor Bell said this complicated an ordinance amendment, adding the lighting and signals shouldn't be needed if the daylight only driving is allowed.
Wade stated general opposition to the ordinance for traffic safety reasons.
The mayor said the utility vehicles would pose no more of a hazard than bicyclists and pedestrians.
Discussion on the matter was tabled until the commission's May 15 meeting, with the hope city attorney Brad Jantz could be present. He wrote the amendment to the ordinance.
Commissioners approved on a 4-1 vote a change in rates at the Herington Municipal Swimming Pool for the coming summer season.
Individual daily admission was raised by 25 cents to $1.50. Individual season passes were increased from $30 to $35 and family passes were increased from $50 to $70. Additional admission charges for out-of-town residents were eliminated, as was free swimming on Wednesdays.
The pool generates approximately $17,000 in revenue annually, while operating expenses are approximately $60,000, according to City Clerk Debbie Wendt. She also noted that fees, in general, had decreased since she had worked at the facility 40 years ago.
Commissioner Neuberger voted against approval of the new rates after he had proposed alternate rates.
Lisa Williams, who works at the Tri-County Area Chamber of Commerce in Herington, received permission from the commission to bring “welcome bags” to City Hall to be given to new residents. Those persons will be first encouraged to pick up the bags at the Chamber office.
The commission also appointed Williams to the Convention and Visitors Bureau for a two-year term to expire April 30, 2014.
A “Parents Who Host, Lose the Most” proclamation was adopted the commission in observance of “Don’t Be a Party to Teenage Drinking” month.
The proclamation was provided to the city by the Quality of Life Coalition in Dickinson County. Cheryl Mickey, underage drinking program coordinator, thanked the city and the Herington school district for pro-active work in the effort to inform the public about underage drinking.
The Herington City Commission's next regularly scheduled meeting is slated at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 15, at City Hall.