Residents of Oktibbeha County will see another tax hike after the Board of Supervisors unanimously increased the tax levy by 4.48 mills for the new fiscal year that begins Oct. 1.
Over half of that increase, 2.31 mills, will go toward paying for the $27.5 million bond issue to renovate the OCH Regional Medical Center.
County Administrator Don Posey said the county has cut costs for the first time from the previous year’s budget by $577,244.
Several retired residents bemoaned the decision to raise taxes and criticized the hospital bond.
Calling the OCH bond a “joke,” Kay Henry said that her taxes have increased every year, while Social Security income has remained stagnant.
Carole Gospodnetich said that many life-threatening cases are sent from the OCH to Tupelo.
“What do we need the hospital for?” she said. “People are going to be taxed out of their homes.”
The county-owned hospital submitted a proposal two years ago for the board to allow the referendum.
At the same time, District 2 Orlando Trainer voted against the proposal and suggested selling the hospital, arguing that the OCH barely makes a profit and that county-owned hospitals have mostly disappeared.
Fred Allen brought with him to Tuesday’s meeting a Corinth article explaining that the non-profit Magnolia Regional Health Center had plans for $17 million worth of improvements without asking city or county residents to foot the bill.
Lorenzo Coley, however, said he voted for the hospital bond and favored the board’s decision to raise taxes.
“You’ve cut things as close to home as far as I can see,” he said.
The county budget for the fiscal year 2010-2011 is now $37.3 million.