Travis County set to take another look at Central Health's proposed budget, tax increase

Central Health
Photo credit Mikala Compton/American-Statesman / USA TODAY NETWORK

AUSTIN ( -- Travis County Commissioners will take another look at a proposed budget for Central Health on Tuesday, as the healthcare district continues to face pushback on a proposed 6.5 percent tax increase.

Central Health's board of managers approved a $744 million budget for FY 2024 on Sept. 6, which represents an 18.4 percent increase over FY 2023 spending levels.

The healthcare district, which was created by voters in 2004, serves people who are low-income and uninsured. Under state law, Travis County Commissioners have the final say because Central Health's board is appointed, not elected. That said, commissioners are only able to approve or reject - not make changes - to Central Health's proposal.

The increased budget comes as Central Health is looking to begin implementing its Healthcare Equity Plan - more than 150 separate projects the district says will "repair and strengthen the local healthcare safety net."

Under that seven-year plan, Central Health says it plans to add approximately $800 million to its annual operating costs between now and the 2030 budget year.

Commissioners have pushed back on the proposal, including questioning the amount of cash reserves - more than $379 million. Central Health, for its part, says as it begins implementing its plan, those reserves will go down dramatically over the next few years.

For its part, Travis County is also looking to have Central Health take on more of the costs of mental health diversion services, along with healthcare for inmates at the Travis County Jail - two areas that are currently being handled by the county.

Featured Image Photo Credit: Mikala Compton/American-Statesman / USA TODAY NETWORK