'We have collected enough': Walker County eliminating property tax fee for Erlanger debt
Walker County residents will no longer have to pay an additional property tax fee to help pay off county healthcare debts. That's according to Commissioner Shannon Whitfield.
On Wednesday, Whitfield announced they had collected enough funds to help pay off debts they owe to Erlanger Health System.
“We project we have collected enough from the Public Health Facilities and Services fee over the past two years to meet our obligation to Erlanger at the end of this tax cycle,” said Whitfield. “This means the fee will not be charged on your next tax bill!”
The Public Health Facilities and Services fee was created in August of 2017.
The county's debt to Erlanger goes back to Hutcheson Medical Center, which eventually closed.
“Dealing with this debt has been a tough chapter in our shared journey,” said Whitfield. “I thank our citizens for the sacrifices made during this difficult time in our history. Today, we turn the page. Today, we start our own chapter in Walker County history.”
Erlanger released a statement after Wednesday's announcement:
“We appreciate the opportunity to work with Commissioner Whitfield and his commitment to repay Walker County’s debt," said Erlanger President & CEO Kevin M. Spiegel, FACHE. “His announcement today is a huge step in finalizing our agreement and focusing on the residents of Walker County. Erlanger remains committed to caring for patients from Northwest Georgia and will continue to look for opportunities to partner with Commissioner Whitfield and the citizens of Walker County to provide accessible world class healthcare."
You can read more about the announcement on the county website here.
A release from Walker County says Commissioner Shannon Whitfield will make a "significant" announcement Wednesday regarding the county's debt to Erlanger Health System.
According to the release this announcement will affect every property owner in the county.
The announcement will be made on the county's Facebook page at 12:05PM
Jim Hill, who is running for commissioner in District One of Walker County, sent a statement ahead of the announcement.
It says," Today, Walker County Commissioner Shannon Whitfield is expected to announce the debt to Erlanger Health System is paid. Back in August 2017 the Walker County Public Health Facilities and Services District was created. This "district" imposed a fee of 0.14% of the fair market value, up to a maximum of $1,000.
Although this debt was not from the Whitfield administration it was the way he handled the debt putting a heavy burden on everyone in Walker County. Should today's announcement be debt relief, this imposed "fee" should end bringing some relief to the citizens of Walker County.
As I run to be the first commissioner from District One of Walker County, I hope to hear today the $8.7 million debt to Erlanger has been paid off early and the "fee" will eliminated. This fee was created to pay off the Erlanger debt and then go away.
Thanks to the sacrifice of the citizens of Walker County we are moving forward. I look forward to hearing from Commissioner Shannon Whitfield today at 12:05 PM on Facebook."
This is a developing story. Depend on us to keep you updated.