Yes! Allen County Healthcare

opinions

September 28, 2010 - 12:00 AM

Voters will decide Nov. 2 whether to increase a countywide sales tax by 1⁄4 of a cent to go toward a new Allen County Hospital.
Members of the Allen County Healthcare Committee address questions about the issue.
Q: Why did Allen County Commissioners ask the City of Iola commissioners to help with the funding of the hospital project?
A: There are several answers to this question. 
First, the City of Iola and its citizens have the most to gain by the continued presence of the hospital. With an annual budget of $15-$20 million and an annual payroll of about $9 million, the  hospital and its 150 employees have a substantial  impact on the Iola economy. The hospital is also a major consumer of utilities from the city.
Second, Iola has only recently renewed its very successful 10-year sales tax for street, alley and capital improvements. By committing up to $350,000 a year of that revenue to the hospital project, it lowers the money needed from the county.
In the Nov. 2 election, citizens of the county will be asked to approve a 1⁄4 cent sales tax increase to fund a new hospital. Without city funds, the county referendum would have been for a 1⁄2 cent sales tax. Placing the hospital in Iola city limits — or close enough that it could be annexed — ensures that it will receive these city funds.
Third, using sales tax dollars for capital improvements has many benefits. Taxpayers can see the results through the many recently completed street projects including upgrades to Lincoln, North Cottonwood and Kentucky streets. The courthouse square also has new lighting, sidewalks, curbs and gutters completed in the last 10 years.
Deferring for a while some future improvements to other streets will be a decision for future city
leaders, but the citizens know that the use of sales tax dollars for capital improvements has been an excellent way to bring infrastructure in the city up-to-date.
Fourth, the leaders of Iola understand all too well how challenging it is to retain and attract new jobs to the area. Investing in a modern healthcare facility is essential to Iola’s future. None of the major employers that were in Iola when the hospital first opened in the early 1950s are here now. Today’s major employers have all come to the area since then. Major employers looking to expand or relocate in the United States insist on the presence of a modern hospital. To attract an industry to replace Haldex and any others that might close in the future will require having a modern hospital. It is essential to attract new jobs here.

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