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The Madison County Commission will hold a special meeting on Wednesday evening, June 29, at 6 p.m. to discuss an amendment to an interlocal agreement. The amendment would allow the Small County Surtax to help the hospital pay for indigent care.
Clerk of the Court Tim Sanders said that he had been approached by County Commissioner Roy Ellis, who wanted to know if there was any way that the hospital could be helped with the surtax.
The surtax is a one-cent sales tax that was originally designated for the jail, which was constructed in the early 1990s. Funds were then designated to pay for landfill closure. When the county received a grant to help with that, the funds were disbursed between Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and infrastructure within the county. Part of the infrastructure funds go to pay off two loans for wastewater and drinking water.
The amendment to the interlocal agreement would involving refinancing the current loan for infrastructure. This would free up $250,000 a year for the hospital.
The loan restructuring could end up with either a higher or lower interest rate. Sanders said that the county would probably let out the new loan for bids. Some people opposed to it, however, say that the loan would have to go an extra length of time actually increasing the interest that the county would pay.
Supporters of the hospital are urging the commission to pay this amendment. David Abercrombie, the hospital’s chief executive officer, said, “According to the State of Florida’s 2011 County Health Rankings, 23% of all Madison citizens under age 65 are without health insurance. This is a bad number. And it is one of several reasons that cause Madison County to rank Number 67 out of all 67 Florida counties in various health factors. Knowing this, it becomes clear that the people of Madison are in dire need of this amendment to the Interlocal Agreement. Now is the time for our leaders to show real leadership. This is what we pay them for. And this is the opportunity. If passed, this amendment will have major positive effects for us all; if the resources aren’t there, then Madison County could fall further and further behind Number 66.”