Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

January 27, 2014

Push on for hospital tax plan

Barry Porterfield
Pauls Valley Democrat

bporterfield@pvdemocrat.com — Full court press time for a group of Pauls Valley officials and some volunteers banding together to get the word out on a sales tax measure meant to save the local hospital.

The name of this game is organizing a push to get accurate information out to voters on the half-cent tax proposal on PV ballots during an election set for March 4.

During a special meeting Thursday night members of the PV Hospital Authority made it clear they now have a plan in place, which includes the sales tax revenue, to keep the hospital open and hopefully thriving well into the future.

In fact, Mayor Gary Alfred said there are a lot of different people coming together for this organized effort to better inform local voters before the election.

The whole idea, he said, is to take that first step of saving the local hospital by getting the tax measure passed.

“We’ve brought in a group, and their whole job is to save hospitals,” Alfred said about New Light Healthcare, which for now is working with the city of PV to manage the hospital.

“It’s not going to turn around overnight, but we feel it’s on the right path,” he said about the hospital.

“We’re at a turning point. We feel we’re now in the process of getting the hospital fixed.”

During the special meeting Alfred described the city’s efforts over the past few months to get a partner in place, such as the St. Anthony or Mercy hospital groups, to purchase the local hospital and help secure its present and future stability.

None of those efforts have paid off as city officials are now joining forces with others to move forward with this new plan meant to keep a hospital open here in PV.

“Both of those entities wanted to build urgent care centers and close the hospital,” Alfred said.

“As a hospital authority we feel Pauls Valley needs a hospital.”

Along with the health care provided for the community and surrounding region, the mayor said having a hospital also has a positive economic impact and offers the potential of bringing in new businesses.

It’s estimated the half-cent tax would, if passed by voters, generate in the neighborhood of $500,000 to $600,000 annually.

One thing made clear — all of that tax revenue will go “exclusively” toward the purchase of capital equipment, specifically diagnostic equipment, and other facility and operational improvements for the hospital.

None of the sales tax money will be used to pay off any of the hospital’s pre-bankruptcy debt, city officials stressed.

(Next week the PV Democrat will feature more on the city’s half-cent tax proposal and what the money will be used for if the measure is passed by voters on March 4.)