Taxes to Support Southern Humboldt Community Hospital District Dropped for Blocksburg Area Residents After Boundary Changes

Photo from the SHCHD website

The Humboldt Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCo) held a public hearing on March 21st  to consider the proposed detachment of the Blocksburg area from the Southern Humboldt Community Healthcare District (SHCHD). After a brief assessment of the proposal, Humboldt LAFCo approved the detachment of 524 parcels in the Blocksburg area from the SHCHD.
The area to be annexed from the SHCHD is about 61,650 acres about 10 miles east of Highway 101, and generally coincides with the boundaries of election precincts 2SH-3 and 2SHF3. The area contains scattered rural residential development and a small commercial center within the community of Blocksburg.

Kent Scown, the Chief Operations Officer for the SHCHD, said,

It is very important to note that the proposed detachment was not initiated by the healthcare district, as some have suggested. Rather, the process was initiated by landowners residing within the Blocksburg area who took the time to engage with the healthcare district administration and its board of directors by attending a public meeting on March 28th of 2017. They felt that they, and virtually all members of the Blocksburg community, were being charged a tax for a service they did not utilize, and asked the district board for relief.

In response, the SHCHD did a review of utilization, discussed and considered separating part of the district on the behalf of Blocksburg residents. LAFCo assisted the process of document preparation, analysis, and public noticing requirements. Then, this January 3rd, about 20 residents attended a Blocksburg Town Hall meeting with district board members. No one at the open public meeting voiced opposition to the proposed detachment.

On March 21st, 2018, LAFCO held a public hearing to decide the matter.  Chief Operations Officer Scown responded to questions from the Commission. Scown witnessed the Committee assess written comments, as “ No member of the public was present at the hearing….The Commission… after thoughtful discussion and consideration unanimously voted to approve the separation of Blocksburg from the SHCHD.”

According to a staff annexation report explaining the decision, LAFCo intends to  “prevent taxing residents for hospital-related services they do not utilize.” The effect of detachment is simple.  Parcels annexed from the SHCHD will no longer pay any taxes toward Jerold Phelps Community Hospital and associated services. All of the citizens in the area are still eligible for healthcare, and emergency services will not be affected by these changes. LAFCo Staff repeatedly cites services that will remain despite jurisdictional boundary changes. “The Bridgeville and Alderpoint Volunteer Fire Departments would continue to provide fire protection and emergency response services within the affected territory. Ambulance services would continue to be provided…Services provided by the hospital are fee-for-service based, and are available to all members of the public.”

Several parcel owners within the affected area and a concerned citizen wrote Humboldt LAFCo in response to the proposed changes. Two families supported their parcels’ annexation from the Healthcare District for the same reasons the Humboldt LAFCo made their decision.

One family opposed paying for facilities they do not use or value. Another couple on a fixed income wrote to Humboldt LAFCo, their inclusion  “places an undue burden on our finances and is not justified, based on lack of use.” The couple paid taxes for SHCHD since 1989 without using its services.

Confirming the stories of local residents, the Bridgeville Fire Protection District Board President Brian Phillips commented, “a majority of the medical calls we respond to from the Blocksburg area are transported to the Fortuna ER.”

Two local citizens opposed the changes to SHCHD boundaries in suspiction the Healthcare District changes will affect citizens’ voting rights.

One family wrote “SHCHD boundaries have always coincided with those of the school district in order to maintain community cohesion. Rural districts of any kind are often disregarded. We don’t wish to be disenfranchised by our own.” These citizens wondered why other parcels and residents who also use healthcare services in Fortuna, were not also annexed from the SHCHD, and associated the boundary changes with gerrymandering.

According to Merriam-Webster, gerrymandering is “to manipulate the boundaries of (an electoral constituency) so as to favor one party or class.”

In a different letter, another citizen demanded the resignation of the SHCHD Chief Executive Officer and claims that the parcel annexation will affect Blocksburg residents rights and lead to the annexation of other parcels. The writer highlights how the majority of the Blocksburg area residents voted against last year’s parcel tax increases for the Healthcare District, implying deeper motives.

In response to the accusations of somehow gerrymandering the Blocksburg area, Humboldt Lafco Administrator Collete Metz helped clarify, “the changes do not affect voters rights on the election in June. In the future, these parcels will be removed from the precinct, and…the SHCHD may ask for a renewal or increase in taxes, but…the district will not include the Blocksburg area for future tax measures.” Metz also mentioned, although the SHCHD and Southern Humboldt Unified School District boundaries were created together, they are legally independent of each other. Therefore, the removal or addition of parcels to one of these districts does not affect the membership of the other. Also, residents are still eligible to vote.

The renewal of taxes that fund Jerold Phelps Community Hospital and associated medical services will be decided on the local June 5th ballot. The Humboldt LAFCo‘s reasoning for changing SHCHD’s boundary, and several letters from Blocksburg area citizens, are available to the public at HUMBOLDTLAFCO.ORG

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17 comments

  • I am seriously disappointed in the SHCHD Board of Directors for taking this action. Playing such politics does not endear me to voting for the tax measure whereas up until now I had committed myself to doing so.
    I realize it’s too late for anyone to re-think this action but wonder if they ever stopped to consider how all the Other voters would react thereby effecting the votes by more than the votes they have eliminated? This action seems so short sighted for minimal political gain.
    One step forward, two steps backward?
    Do they hope to recoup the $650K on the backs of the insured patients still using the local services because MediCal and MediCare certainly aren’t going to make up the difference.

    • There are some services where Medicare/Medical compensate the District at a higher rate than private insurance and many seniors have supplemental private insurance which theoretically covers some gaps.

  • I don’t use the hospital services, can I have the tax removed from my tax bill? My husband was informed by the physical therapy dept. that he will have to be a patient of the hospital’s clinic in order to use that service. I think only property owners in the district should be allowed to vote on the parcel tax.

    • we’ve been having the same thoughts as some of us here in Panther Gap got sketched out on the border of Honeydews line that needs to be amended. we naturally would go towards Fortuna, esp. for emergencies. we don’t deserve the tax.

      • hi Gail, sorry to impose, but do you happen to know of anyone selling property in the Panther Gap area? please email me if this is allowed? skil2go@yahoo.com
        thanks Kym if your reading!

    • If you area property owner in the district the hit to your property value will far exceed the yearly investment in an a 24 hour emergency room.

      • ” If you area property owner in the district the hit to your property value will far exceed the yearly investment in an a 24 hour emergency room.”
        What utter nonsense. Property values will decrease because of all the parcel taxes we are saddled with.
        Currently I pay $4,375/year in parcel taxes to the hospital which I don’t use.
        If the proposed tax increase goes into effect that will jump to $5950/year or $267,750 over the 45 years of the tax, of course the tax will go up as it always does.
        In 2000 I paid only $25/year per parcel, now you want $170/parcel.
        Add in the two school parcel taxes and I have to will be $1million poorer over the length of the tax.
        I am glad that last Fall I sold most of my parcels and moved out of State.
        Where I live now, a rural community not unlike S. Humboldt, I have 2 nearly new hospitals, one 2 miles away, the other 17 miles away, and I pay no parcel taxes.
        The last property I bought in S. Humboldt was in 1980, I paid an average of $250/acre, Last fall when I sold most of my property, the average price was $15,000/acre.
        The fact that there is a hospital in Garberville had no effect on the price, as the new owners had already decided to go elsewhere for health care.What the new owners were most concerned with was the high taxes.

        • Welcome to Commiefornia, where by heavy taxation, land is owned in common and is available for all as needed. You owe it to “us.” Just take a look at the hundred properties in the tax auction. You can buy a piece to support your Supreme Leader.

        • Veteran's Friend

          Hooktender, if I didn’t know better I’d swear you were my son. That is his situation and by extension, my own. We haven’t sold yet but it is on the horizon.

        • Taurus Ballzhoff

          Thanks for the info. Whenever SHCHD wants to extort more money from the community that does not support it, Dave Kirby and Barbara Truitt start to spout more nonsense about “service”…

          No one supports this hospital, and everyone who refuses to use it should be excused from paying tax.

          I also owned property here for 5 years, and sold at a gain.

          The crap the Healthcare district says, it’s just crap. They want your money. The end. SHCHD does not care about you.

          Kent Scown is a pirate, and Barbara Truitt wants to be able to go to town and see “her” hospital. It’s not rational, it’s all about ego and extortion, power and money.

          Dave Kirby is also a bandit, and he just wants to sell Garberville, not help it.

    • sick and tired = I don’t know who told you that your husband had to be a patient of SHCHD to be seen in the Physical Therapy department because that is not true. As far as I know one just has to be referred to Ther-a-Con by any doctor. However, if a person is on MediCal they do not accept them as patients. Not sure about MediCare or VA patients. Private insurance patients can get PT there without being a SHCHD patient.
      David Kirby. thanks for your perspectives.

  • Veteran's Friend

    I don’t use the hospital. My son owns 5 parcels in the hospital district but lives in Oregon. Should we get exemptions from the $750 this costs us annually?

    • I paid this tax on over twenty parcels for well over twenty years while owning only one home. Now living in Oregon the past four years I still pay on several cove parcels I have yet to sell. I no longer get a vote. I dont use the hospital. It is substandard at best, and for all the money Shelter Cove has paid (4000 lots x 40 years) we could have funded our own hospital. I thought the measure failed…the nightmare continues!

  • Surprise, surprise. We need more yes votes.

  • First aid/critical access/they save lives

    Here’s the thing…. if you’re involved in a serious accident…. maybe you are unconscious…. maybe you are not stable enough to make it to Fortuna. We CAN’T always CHOOSE where we want to go. We’re lucky to have services here. And nothing is free…. imo, we’d be doing a disservice to our community and it’s future by letting this hospital go. Be careful what you wish for….

  • What to do about Blocksburg has been discussed since I was on the board back in the 90s. It was pointed out by a number of folks out there that they didn’t use the Garberville Hospital/Clinic and didn’t feel they should have to pay the tax. As it was only 15 minutes longer over a better road to a wider array of services it made sense to take them out of the district. Its no surprise that the parcel tax was not as popular out there than the more accessable areas. I don’t know why it took so long to do this. I have read several letters in the paper that portray this action as somehow shady. It is confusing to hear concerns from people that are somehow offended by not being taxed for a service they don’t use. I feel that the parcel tax is a no brainer. After years of paying as much $12,000 a year for medical insurance $10.00 a month to keep a local E.R. is peanuts. I’m on medicare these days and having a facility in town that is there when I need them is huge.

  • Dave what needs to happen is figure out a way to get more people to pay more evenly not just the property owners. Some people have multiple parcels and are paying more than others. I agree there needs to be a hospital, it can be a life saver but it shouldn’t be put on just property owners.

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