A Penny for Your Tax

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Bay County commissioners are pitching a one-cent sales tax hike to pay for a number of local projects, like a new library, road paving and paying-off the waste incinerator.

Tuesday, representatives for Bay Medical had a penny for the commissioner's thoughts.

Tammy Newton is the Vice President for Strategic Planning for the hospital and attended Tuesday morning's meeting. She says, "We attended the County Commission meeting this morning to request that if the one-cent sales tax is passed, that we be allowed to be one of the recipients of the tax."

Last month, NewsChannel Seven asked you how the county should use the sales tax, the majority with 29 percent said the money should go towards new paved roads.

Since Bay Medical was not on that list or the county's list of projects, Tammy Newton says they hired a marketing company to do its own research.

"Funding medical facilities and funding transportation projects were statistically tied as the number one need that the voters recognized."

Dan Morgan, the Chief Financial Officer for the hospital, says although the bills are paid, it needs help to keep the state of the art equipment.

"What we're seeing is, as the technology continues to grow and continues to move, we're seeing more and need for the equipment, for new rooms."

Since Bay Medical is a public, non-profit hospital, it is required to care for emergency cases, even if the patient is unable to pay for the services. According to Morgan, the hospital spends $44 to $46 million a year in uncompensated care.

"It certainly impacts our ability to generate the kind of returns we need to again maintain the state of our facility that we have today in Bay County."

And while it's ok to decide where the income will be spent in the community, it's still up to the voters to decide whether a penny will be spent.