The Humboldt Local Agency Formation Commission — or LAFCo — held a public hearing on March 21 to consider the proposed detachment of the Blocksburg area from the Southern Humboldt Community Healthcare District. After a brief assessment of the proposal, the commission approved the detachment of 524 parcels in the Blocksburg area from the SHCHD.

The area to be annexed from the SHCHD is about 61,650 acres and contains scattered rural residential development and a small commercial center within the community of Blocksburg.

“It is very important to note that the proposed detachment was not initiated by the health care district, as some have suggested,” said Kent Scown, the chief operations officer for the SHCHD. “Rather, the process was initiated by landowners residing within the Blocksburg area who took the time to engage with the health care district administration and its board of directors by attending a public meeting on March 28th of 2017. They felt that they, and virtually all members of the Blocksburg community, were being charged a tax for a service they did not utilize, and asked the district board for relief.”

In response, SHCHD did a review of utilization, discussed and considered separating part of the district on the behalf of Blocksburg residents. LAFCo assisted the process of document preparation, analysis, and public noticing requirements. On March 21, LAFCO held a public hearing to decide the matter. Scown responded to questions from the commission. ”

According to a staff annexation report explaining the decision, LAFCo intends to “prevent taxing residents for hospital-related services they do not utilize.”

The effect of detachment is simple. Parcels annexed from the SHCHD will no longer pay any taxes toward Jerold Phelps Community Hospital and associated services. All of the citizens in the area are still eligible for health care and emergency services will not be affected by these changes.

“The Bridgeville and Alderpoint volunteer fire departments would continue to provide fire protection and emergency response services within the affected territory. Ambulance services would continue to be provided … services provided by the hospital are fee-for-service based, and are available to all members of the public.”

Several parcel owners within the affected area and a concerned citizen wrote Humboldt LAFCo in response to the proposed changes.

One couple on a fixed income wrote to Humboldt LAFCo, their inclusion “places an undue burden on our finances and is not justified, based on lack of use.” The couple paid taxes for SHCHD since 1989 without using its services.

Bridgeville Fire Protection District Board President Brian Phillips said “a majority of the medical calls we respond to from the Blocksburg area are transported to the Fortuna ER.”

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