The upcoming hospital bond election on Nov. 5 is a pivotal one for the people of Commerce.
Hunt Regional Community Hospital at Commerce is an aging facility that is nearing the end of its “life.” Hunt Regional Healthcare intends to build a new $5 million outpatient facility in Commerce that will feature an emergency room and helipad.
The new facility would be built on land in between Whitley Residence Hall and the President’s House on Highway 24/50.
The expansion is part of a $12.3 million bond that would also pay for a similar facility in Quinlan and the renovation of the third floor of the Greenville building. The cost? An increase of 0.0181 cents to the hospital’s tax rate, or an average increase of $17.56 per year.
Commerce clearly needs an ER and outpatient facility. The 15 miles to Greenville is simply too far in emergency situations.
Consider also that many Commerce residents are students with limited access to transportation, and having a hospital nearby with ambulance services becomes an even greater need.
While the Commerce population has not increased significantly over the past decade, the number of students living at Texas A&M University-Commerce has. The university recently added hundreds of beds by building Pride Rock and the most recent residence hall, which opened this fall.
A&M-Commerce doesn’t have any plans of slowing down, either, which is a huge positive for the city of Commerce. But it also means that the city’s residents need to be proactive in establishing infrastructure to support this increase. The university and the city have worked closely to make this happen, but the hospital bond is in the hands of Hunt County residents.
If Commerce is going to attract more families and seniors, as well as businesses, a hospital is a must-have. Any increase in taxes must be weighed heavily.
A struggling economy and dysfunctional federal government have cut deeply into our checkbooks already. But the risk of losing a hospital in Commerce, and all of the benefits that come with it, far outweigh the cost.
The opinion expressed here is that of the Commerce Journal editorial board. The board can be reached at email@example.com.