Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

August 15, 2013

Hospital sales tax cut for now

Ezra Mann
Pauls Valley Democrat — As stress from the fight to save Pauls Valley General Hospital for future generations continues to weigh on local leaders, it was announced at the most recent meeting that one form of potential support will have to wait a bit longer to get going.

Originally meant to go before voters Tuesday, Sept. 10, a proposal for a half cent sales tax meant to support the local medical facility was instead rescinded temporarily by city council members after deciding the time did not feel right after all.

City Manager James Frizell noted how much of this comes down to an official management partner not being announced as this deadline approaches. That, he said, is essential to helping promote the tax.

“The reason Jay and I discussed this is we feel like right now, since we do not have a partner that we can help with this, we think it’s in the city’s interest that we rescind the sales tax election that is scheduled for next month,” said Frizell, also referring to City Attorney Jay Carlton.

“What we want to do is put it off right now and do it later on.”

The proposal would have asked the voters to approve the tax on a permanent basis and would have been used to help pay off a 20 year note/line of credit of $3.15 million also approved at the same meeting, according to Frizell.

Had it passed, it would have become effective Jan. 1, 2014, allowing the city to actually start receiving revenue from it in March next year. It would have benefited the hospital from operating expenses to new equipment.

Options for putting the proposal back on the ballot could include a special election before the end of the year, though council members could wait until November when general elections are held.

The vote ended up being unanimous in support of rescinding the tax proposal with any discussion to reschedule the proposal to be held at a future meeting.

The city is still currently under a management agreement with St. Anthony Health System and is undergoing a due diligence process by an entity, which has not officially been named due to a confidentiality agreement.

“It is the timing,” said Frizell, adding recently how if it is passed later on it would raise the overall tax rate here to about 9.75 percent.

“We didn’t feel we were prepared to go out and ask our constituents to vote for it.”