Would transfer tax revenue to county, eliminate Antioch mayor’s executive director job
On Monday, May 10, 2021, Assemblymember Jim Frazier’s (D-Fairfield) bill, AB 903, to dissolve the Los Medanos Community Healthcare District, unanimously passed the Assembly floor on a 70-0 vote. The district serves Pittsburg and Bay Point.
AB 903 will require Contra Costa County to be the successor of all rights and responsibilities of the district. AB 903 will also require the county to complete a property tax transfer process to ensure the transfer of the district’s health-related ad valorem property tax revenues to the county in order to operate the Los Medanos Area Health Plan Grant Program.
The Los Medanos Hospital closed in 1994 but the district, covering Pittsburg and Bay Point, has continued to exist, collecting property taxes and using the funds to pay for staff and provide grants to local organizations, direct service programs including a community garden and district sponsored programs including REading ADvantage for early literacy. The district’s 2020-21 Fiscal Year budget projected $1.13 million in tax revenue and $1.3 million in expenses.
“This bill effectively creates hundreds of thousands of dollars in funding for badly needed healthcare services in the region. A lot of this funding comes from the savings on LMCHD’s extremely high administrative expenses, which topped 60% in some years,” said Frazier.
The Contra Costa Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) has approved of the dissolution of the existing healthcare district, and Contra Costa County already serves the communities within district boundaries.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed critical shortfalls in healthcare and health services funding across the state. Communities of color have been especially impacted by the emergency,” said Frazier. “Now more than ever, we have seen the life-changing impacts of devoting every possible dollar to serving those we represent. AB 903 effectively creates hundreds of thousands of dollars in funding for badly needed healthcare services in the region.”
“Comparable programs in the county average at about 15% admin cost, and rather than lose over half the funding to wasteful administrative expenses, AB 903 dedicates those dollars to the community,” Frazier added.
Part of the administrative expenses includes Antioch Mayor Lamar Thorpe’s executive director position which included an annual salary of $96,000 when he was hired in 2019, plus merit-based salary increases, according to the minutes of the Dec. 16, 2019 LMCHD Board meeting. He is also provided one hour of paid personal leave time for every 30 hours worked. When reached, previously about having his position eliminated if the bill is signed into law, Thorpe said he could find another job.
Previously, LMCHD Board President Patt Young challenged Frazier and his legislation, claiming he doesn’t represent but a portion of the healthcare district and that he is “taking political orders from your top political advisor in an effort to turn our district into a political slush fund for one of your top allies on the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors.” (See related article)
However, Assemblymember Tim Grayson, whose district includes most of the healthcare district, is the Principal couthor of the bill.
The bill requires passage by the State Senate and signing by the governor before it becomes law.
Allen Payton contributed to this report.