A special City of Sallisaw meeting Monday evening was not to ask for a new half-cent sales tax, City Manager Clayton Lucas said Monday. It was to re-purpose a sales tax already being collected for Sequoyah Memorial Hospital.
Lucas explained the half-cent sales tax already collected for the hospital is for capital improvements. Now the hospital board would like that money also for maintenance and operations. City commissioners approved the request, along with an election on Nov. 10. The half-cent sales tax was approved by voters in 1978, and, to repurpose its use, it must be approved by the city and the voters again.
Hospital staff members explained the hospital must work with Medicare and Medicaid, which are often slow to play and which causes a cash flow problem. Also, Medicare funds are being cut about 2 percent a year, and the state has not expanded its Medicaid program.
The hospital board also requested and received a quit claim deed from the city. The city owns half the property, but to get a loan, using the property as collateral, the hospital must be wholly owned by the hospital authority. Lucas said hospital administration has said there is no intention at the present time to add debt to the authority. The property transfer would be for a possible future loan.
Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director
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