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The Hospital Tax far from Done Deal? CJE wants Attorney General opinion

Judge Melton asks those opposed, as she is, to the proposed Hospital Tax to call her office at 270-384-4703 and/or to to call their Magistrates, Harold Burton (1) 250-2579, Daryl Flatt (2) 634-1033, Sammy Baker (3) 378-1536, Perry Reeder (4) 634-3234, Billy Dean Coffey (5) 250-4449, Joe Rogers (6) 250-3285, and Billy Rowe (7) 634-0334. to let them know their feelings. She invites the public to be at the 7pmCT, July 10, 2012 Regular Meeting of the Adair Fiscal Court to let their feelings on the proposed tax be known.

By Ed Waggener

The highly unpopular move by the Adair County Hospital District and Spectrum Health Partners to impose a hospital tax to survive a sale of Westlake is far from a done deal. Adair County Judge Ann Melton, who has been studying the issue for weeks now, thinks a number of questions remain to be answered before such a tax could happen and she's asking the Adair Fiscal Court to approve a letter to Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway to clarify questions about the legality of such a tax.

In the magistrate/media package sent to the seven Adair County Magistrates and given to the Media, Judge Melton is asking for approval to send a letter to the Kentucky Attorney General asking clarification on four issues related to the tax requesting an opinion from Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway on the following questions:
  1. What procedure should an existing taxing district with a zero tax rate follow to establish a new tax rate?
  2. With a previous tax rate of zero, how does 1979 House Bill apply to the Adair County Public Hospital's decision to establish a tax of 3.7 cents.
  3. If it is re-established to the previous 1997 rate of 3.7 cents, would such a rate be subject to recall?
  4. Is it within the statutes and law for the District to legally levy a tax for the first time in 15 years when it is also in the final stages of selling all of its assets? Taxpayers would be left paying a tax for years to come to a taxing district that will most likely have no assets and only exist to retire a debt.
  • Judge Melton will be asking Fiscal Court to join her, leaders in all areas of public life in Adair County, in effort to prevent a Hospital Tax from being imposed on Adair County taxpayers to pay for a hospital they would no longer own. She will be asking Fiscal Court to vote to authorize a letter to Attorney General Jack Conway to clarify questions related to the tax.

    "I believe all the Magistrates will support this effort," she said. "This court has come through twice in the past year to save the hospital. If they had not, it might not be operating today," she said. "I have no doubt they will come through again tomorrow night." However, she said, she and they will need the public's support.

    Judge Melton said that Fiscal Court still has to give approval to any sale of the Hospital, under the terms of the the agreement between the Fiscal Court and the Adair County Hospital District for the $1.7 million bond issue by the county on behalf of the hospital, before it can be finalized.

    "It won't be easy," she said, "but compared to other problems the hospitals here have overcome, the challenge does not look so great. The hospital can be saved."

    Support for the medical staff and for most providers at Westlake Regional Hospital is strong, she said. That bodes well for a Westlake Regional Hospital which would survive the nosedive it has taken under the overstay of Spectrum Health Partners and the failure of the present board to reach out, in a meaningful manner, to a county government and a public anxious to help, but rebuffed at critical times by the hired gun "experts."

    This story was posted on 2012-07-09 08:06:42
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