POLK COUNTY INDIGENT TAX - Mitch Perry

03/05/04

Next Tuesday , Citizens in Polk County will go to Polls, to vote on whether to raise the local sales tax half a cent for 15 years to fund Polk County's indigent health care program.

If voters approve the tax, which would generate an estimated $26 million a year, the spending of the proceeds from the tax will be overseen by an 11-member committee approved by commissioners last month.

The referendum was proposed after commissioners cut $5 million earmarked for indigent care from the county budget rather than raising taxes or cutting other programs.

Catherine Price is from the group Citizens for Quality Health Care. She says she became involved with the issue years ago working at Polk General Hospital, and saw people first hand get denied health care services......She now works at a community mental health service, and sees the same situation. (roll tape#1 o.q."funded services")

And she says a host of organizations, many hesitate to endorse any proposal that increases taxes, are showing support for the initiative (roll tape#2 o.q."problems")

Polk County Commissioner Don Gifford has not expressed an opinion pro or con on the Indigent Health Care tax....But in brief remarks made to WMNF this afternoon, Gifford sounded like he will vote against it on Tuesday (roll tape#2 o.q. "and what its going to be spent on ")

Tuesday's vote comes on the heels of a half-penny sales tax that was passed by Polk County voters last May.

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