August 21, 2013 Edition

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Tax to go into effect on Jan. 1

Gretchen Hunt

The new half-cent sales tax for Lawrence Memorial Hospital, which was passed by Lawrence County voters on Aug. 13, will go into effect on Jan. 1.

Coupled with an existing half-cent sales tax, which was also extended to create a 10-year, one-cent tax, the hospital should receive approximately $1.5 million in funding per year.

The one-cent tax will be in effect until 2023. Lawrence County also has a one-and-a-half-cent sales tax, with proceeds used for the county's general budget, as well as the municipalities within the county.

The state sales tax increased from six and a half cents to seven cents in July after passage of a tax to improve roads.

With these changes, the new base tax in Lawrence County starting in January will be eight and a half cents on the dollar. In addition, purchases made in the cities of Walnut Ridge and Hoxie have an additional one-cent sales tax with proceeds of that tax going to the respective cities.

Grocery purchases will be taxed at a reduced rate, with the countywide tax on groceries being three cents on the dollar, with an additional one cent charged in the cities of Walnut Ridge and Hoxie.

Lawrence Health Service Administrator George Fray said the hospital asked for the new tax after seeing an increasing shortfall due to decreased reimbursements from the federal government for Medicare and Medicaid patients.

The hospital's emergency department also records severe losses due to non-payment for services the hospital is required to provide.

Fray told The TD, that the new tax will help the hospital meet its budget and keep the approximately 330 people employed by LHS in jobs.

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