August 14, 2013 Edition

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Voters approve sales tax

Lawrence County voters showed their support for county-owned Lawrence Memorial Hospital by passing a 10-year, one-cent sales tax during a special election on Tuesday. The one-cent is comprised of an extension of an existing half-cent tax and the addition of a half-cent tax, both of which will be in effect until 2023.

The ballot issue for passage of an additional one-half cent sales tax passed with 945 for (74 percent) and 339 against (26 percent). The vote for continuation of the existing one-half cent sales tax was 965 for (75 percent) and 315 against (25 percent). County Clerk Tina Stowers said a total of 1,294 votes were cast with 389 voting early, 24 voting absentee and 881 casting their ballots on Tuesday.

The hospital sought the tax due to decreased federal funding through Medicare and Medicaid and lower revenue at Lawrence Hall Nursing Center, which had previously helped to offset losses in the hospital's emergency department.

LMS Administrator George Fray said, "We were just really pleased and grateful for the strong support and hope we can meet the expectations of the community and go forward in providing quality healthcare at an affordable price."

"It will still be a test with declining reimbursement," Fray added. "We will have to be efficient."

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