Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

January 29, 2014

To be clear: Tax not for debt

Barry Porterfield
Pauls Valley Democrat

bporterfield@pvdemocrat.com — Pauls Valley city officials want to be clear - all of the revenues from a half cent sales tax up for election on March 4 will go to help the local hospital’s services by way of diagnostic equipment.

Although there’s been some talk going around, they stress none of the tax money, if the proposal is approved by voters, will go toward the hospital’s debt piling up before the facility filed for bankruptcy last year.

With other measures being formulated to deal with that pre-bankruptcy debt, officials like PV Mayor Gary Alfred say the tax will go “exclusively” toward the purchase of capital equipment in areas that improve the hospital’s services and revenues.

“The sales tax is not something that goes to pay off the debt,” Alfred said during a recent PV Hospital Authority meeting.

What it will go for is the upgrading of the hospital’s diagnostic equipment for things like X-rays and fluroscopy, CT scanning, mammograms, ultrasounds and other areas meant to improve patient care services.

Included in the plan to save the hospital is the refurbishing of the operating and emergency rooms, while work is also underway to fix the problems with patient billing.

The mayor is not alone in echoing the realities about where the tax revenue will go if voters say yes in the election now only a mere five weeks away.

Tom Litz is a former longtime hospital administrator who was brought in a few months ago to conduct a study of Pauls Valley General Hospital.

“This sales tax is not to be used to retire debt,” Litz said. “It’s not to pay off bonds.

“It’s strictly for updating capital equipment.”

Alfred and others know that even with the passage of the sales tax measure there’s still plenty of work to not only save the hospital but improve its image.

“We have some obvious hurdles that we’ve got to cross,” Alfred said. “We’ve got to show people where the money is going.

“We’ve got to overcome some of the stigma about the hospital. We’ve got a black cloud over us, and we’ve got to get some of the positive things about our hospital out there,” he said.

“I’ve talked to people who have stayed there, and they’ve told me about having a great experience at the hospital.

“We need more of that instead of all the negative stuff.”

Volunteers working to promote the tax proposal are scheduled to meet at 5:15 p.m. Thursday at the hospital.