On Tuesday, Jan. 8, the citizens of Marshall County will go to the polls and determine whether to renew a one percent sales tax benefiting health care in the county. The tax has been in effect for two decades and Tuesday’s question would renew the tax for another ten years. The full text of the question is as follows:
“Shall the levy and assessment of a sales tax by Marshall County of one percent (1%) upon the gross receipts derived from all sales in Marshall County, Oklahoma, said sales tax to be applicable when point of sale is within the territorial limits of Marshall County, and all items that are exempt from state sales tax to be exempt from any county sales tax, said levy of sales tax to be for a duration of ten (10) years from and after April 1, 2019, and the revenue from said sales tax be used as follows:  the proceeds from such tax shall be used by the Board of Control of the Marshall County HMA,LLC dab AllianceHealth Madill (Marshall County owned hospital) for capital expenditure and indigent care?”
Vice President of the Board of Control, Keith Long, explained how the money is spent.
“The sales tax is earmarked and can only be used for capital improvements and indigent care,” Long said. He said that capital improvements include things like building improvements and equipment upgrades and that indigent care refers to the Marshall County Health Plan, a system that gives low-income residents access to hospital services.
Long said the funds being used for the current expansion of AllianceHealth Madill come from money raised by the tax. He said that these funds are in place and that the upcoming vote will not affect that project. However, similar projects in the future would likely not have funding if the tax is not renewed.
“One reason we ask for a ten-year period for the sales tax is it really takes about that long to plan and get enough money to do a project,” Long said. “Just like the project we have now for the 25 hospital rooms, we’ve been planning and saving the money to do that for the last ten years.”
Long said the hospital would not close if Tuesday’s question is voted down, though it would be the end of the Marshall County Health Plan.
“There just wouldn’t be any more money available for that,” Long said. “It would also affect long range planning for any improvements that need to be done five, six or seven years from now.”
Long said the tax has been a major asset for the county.
“As far as small rural hospitals go, we’re probably the envy of the state,” Long said. “We continue to update and the goal of the Board of Control is to be able to provide the best health care that we can for the people of Marshall County. That’s why we’re asking for 10 more years. There are some more additions that we foresee that we need to complete on the hospital.”
Dana Halliwell, marketing director of AllianceHealth Madill, added that the Marshall County Hospital Foundation Board is in “complete approval” of the tax.
“It’s a critical access hospital that is very important to the residents,” Halliwell said. “That critical care, especially for a heart attack or stroke patient, is vital within the first hour.”