Voters say YES to better health
They say tax increases are always a hard sell. They say 40 percent of voters will oppose any tax increase, regardless of circumstances.
We guess they don't know Fulton County.
Last week voters in the county approved a half-cent sales tax increase to keep the doors open at Fulton County Hospital. The margin was 6 to 1.
No, that's not a misprint, if you happen to be an out-of-town visitor reading this. The final tally was 1,573 for, 266 against (which, by the way, is a pretty darn good turnout for a special election in a rural county).
The last time we saw a tax vote (or any vote, for that matter) so lopsided was when former Arkansas Governor Jim Guy Tucker's ill-conceived highway reconstruction plan went down in flames by a similar margin in the early 1990s.
Lest those out-of-town readers think Arkansans are so backward they don't care about the quality of their roads, it should be pointed out that the next -- and current -- governor, Mike Huckabee, came back to the voters with another highway plan that they overwhelmingly approved, and we've already seen dramatic improvements in our highways, with more improvements now under construction.
It just goes to show that when civic leaders do their homework, identify the need and explain it the citizens, the citizens will respond. And that's just what happened in Fulton County when government and business leaders joined with the medical community to lay the groundwork for the tax vote.
The Salem Chamber of Commerce used a commissioned study to reveal the economic impact of the hospital in Salem and throughout the county. The hospital administration bluntly laid out the facts about its threatened financial condition. Government leaders threw their weight behind it. Residents who owe their lives and the lives of their loved ones to the medical care and treatment they received at the hospital told their stories. And the voters responded.
Everyone deserves a pat on the back for this triumph -- hospital administrator Frank Wise, chamber President Gary Phillips, Fulton County Judge Curren Everett, the Fulton County Quorum Court, the Salem City Council, local physicians and other medical professionals and many others -- but most of all, the voters of Fulton County, who reached into their pockets to ensure the long-term economic health of Fulton County and the long-term physical health of their families and neighbors.--DC