The University Hospital System is expecting to see a 2 percent increase in property tax revenue in the 2021 fiscal year.
The University Hospital System is expecting to see a 2 percent increase in property tax revenue in the 2021 fiscal year. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

The Bexar County Hospital District will see a rise in property tax revenue in the 2021 fiscal year, though its tax rate will not change, Bexar County Commissioners decided on Tuesday at their regular meeting.

The 2021 rate of 27.6237 cents per valuation is mostly unchanged from 2020’s rate of 27.7429 cents per $100 valuation.

County officials project a 1.9 percent increase in revenue because of a tax on new properties and an increase in property valuation throughout Bexar County, said Leni Kirkman, the University Hospital System’s vice president of strategic communication. Property taxes make up about 22 percent of UHS’s total revenue, Kirkman said.  

The majority of the hospital system’s revenue comes from payments for patient care from insurance companies. Total revenue projections for 2021 are not yet known since the budget has not been finalized; the tax rate is the first step in that process, Kirkman said.

Included among properties with increased valuation is UHS’s campus in the Medical Center. The campus has undergone significant upgrades as part of the hospital system’s capital improvement program, Kirkman said.

The Women and Children’s Hospital development is “going to be a game changer” when it is finished in 2023, UHS president and CEO George Hernández Jr. said at an Aug. 18 Commissioners Court meeting in which the recommended tax rate was first presented. Improvements on the first Sky Tower, which will expand access to diagnostic testing in addition to pre- and post-operation bed capacity, is also a “big improvement” for the building built in the 1960s, he said. 

University Health System consists of one hospital, 23 outpatient treatment centers including clinics, sleep labs, and specialty centers, 6 urgent care centers, to name a few provider types, with locations throughout San Antonio.

The hospital district projects a nearly 5 percent increase in total property values, which means more revenue would be collected with the same tax rate. The revenue would be used to cover uncompensated medical care costs for low-income and uninsured patients, as COVID-19-related medical care remains in demand. Federal reimbursements and grants are expected to decrease or disappear completely, Hernández said.

Despite the 1.9 percent increase in property taxes, Bexar County is the least reliant on property taxes as a form of revenue among the four major hospital districts in the state, including Harris, Dallas, and Tarrant counties. 

“We have the least reliance on property taxes, and yet have the reputation we have. It’s really remarkable,” Hernández said. 

A recent health market survey compiled by National Research Corporation, a private health care consumer data researcher, found University Hospital to be the leading in San Antonio when it comes to overall quality, patient safety, and reputation compared to other local hospitals, Hernández said.

“Before the court invested in University Hospital [and its] downtown facility, we would be somewhere towards the end of that ranking rather than the top ranking,” Hernández said. 

Roseanna Garza reports on health and bioscience for the San Antonio Report.