Groups weigh-in for new Volusia County hospital district

Groups including the Florida League of Cities and the Florida Association of Counties plan to back a Volusia County hospital district in a dispute at the state Supreme Court about construction of a new hospital.

The Supreme Court last week approved a request by groups and local governments, including the Florida League of Cities, the Florida Association of Counties and the Florida Association of Special Districts, to file a friend-of-the-court brief on behalf of the Halifax Hospital Medical Center taxing district.

Halifax went to the Supreme Court after a circuit judge last month said the district does not have the legal authority to issue bonds for a 96-bed hospital project in Deltona. The taxing district is based in Daytona Beach, and the Deltona hospital is in western Volusia County, outside the district boundaries.

In his ruling, Circuit Judge Christopher France pointed to a law known as an enabling act and concluded that the district “does not háve authority to issué bonds for the purpose of financing the planning, acquisition, construction, or installing of the proposed Deltona Hospital outside of its geographic district boundaries.”

Halifax contends that it has the right to operate outside the district. In a motion asking the Supreme Court for permission to file the friend-of-the-court brief, the groups and local governments supporting Halifax indicated their interest involves interlocal agreements.

“Critical to bedrock principles of local self-government is the ability of municipal governments, governmental agencies and special districts to freely contract to efficiently provide services of all kinds for the benefit of the health, safety and welfare of the citizens they serve,” the motion said.