Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

January 22, 2014

Both taxes can work

Ezra Mann
Pauls Valley Democrat — The upcoming March 4th ballot for Garvin County residents who live in Pauls Valley will at least give some pause as votes on two measures could ultimately initiate a sales tax increase.

For at least a few, this could increase the pinch many feel at the register, a feeling Vice Mayor and Pauls Valley Hospital Authority Trustee Jocelyn Rushing can relate to just by looking at receipt from a local register that currently reads 9.25 percent.

However, while the renewal of a county half cent tax for seven years and the addition of a half cent tax to help PVGH could raise the rate to 9.75 percent, she believes one will have to determine if it would hurt more to not have a hospital or to spend an extra half penny at the store.

“I believe that’s where the greatest concern comes as people visit with me, that we are taxed to death here,” said Rushing.

“I too am a person that doesn’t want to be taxed…If it will help preserve the hospital then I am willing to make that sacrifice.”

The plan is to hold a series of meetings with the community through town halls as well as at the various civic clubs to show they are not trying to drain the community by taxation, but to help save the hospital and to show that the money generated would only go to that, according to Rushing.

She sees a scenario where both taxes can be passed and asks that each person think thoroughly about what good has been done with the presence of the hospital.

“This half cent, we know what it will be dedicated to, it will all be dedicated to that,” said Rushing, who believes educating people is the key and they want to make it clear this is a long term solution.

“I think we got to look long and hard at what the hospital means to us…. I think if we can show the benefit to the masses then surely they say yes.”

In the end, Rushing noted how PVGH is a not just an entity with local impact, but that it serves people outside Pauls Valley, beginning at least with all of Garvin County.

She said there is a lot of work left to be done like quality of service in the emergency room, which she has heard complaints on in the past, but more recently appears to be on the right track.

She also took time to point out how the area is already going to be hit hard with the pending closure of the Southern Oklahoma Resource Center.

She believes if the hospital was lost after, it might be something that would all but halt economic growth like new industry or businesses for the foreseeable future and lead to a loss revenue wise with a domino effect of jobs in other sectors leaving as well as the people who might have come spending their money elsewhere.

“It too would be beneficial to our entire county… It’s not just the council trying to push a half cent sales tax, but this is for the livelihood of our community,” said Rushing.

“It’s almost like we’ll be drying up, losing SORC is already going to be a loss of income for Pauls Valley and if the hospital closed there’s another loss.”