January 1, 2014 Edition

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New sales tax now in effect

Gretchen Hunt

A new half-cent sales tax for Lawrence Memorial Hospital, which was passed by Lawrence County voters in August, goes into effect today (Wednesday).

The new tax and an existing half-cent sales tax together provide a 10-year, one-cent tax, which will be in effect through 2023.

With this change, the new base tax in Lawrence County is eight and a half cents on the dollar. In addition, purchases made in the cities of Walnut Ridge, Hoxie and Black Rock have an additional one-cent sales tax with proceeds of that tax going to the respective cities.

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.

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