Published in the Iola Register on Feb. 8, 2013.

Letter to the Editor 2-8

Dear Editor,
My concern is regarding the proposed sales tax on which our county is soon to vote and the potential that this tax could expand to increased property taxes. If the proposed financial plan to pay down the bonds on the new hospital is not successful, property taxes will go up, something many people in Cloud County may not know.
 The economy of our nation is weak and recovery is slow. Social Security withholding is back up to 6.2% and comes out of most paychecks leaving citizens less money to spend on products that are increasingly more expensive. Self-employed people will again be withholding 12.4% for Social Security. Retirees who are fortunate enough to have CDs in the bank are actually losing money due to inflation. Many people will be required to purchase insurance and that will be an added cost. It doesn’t seem prudent for Cloud County to assume over $25 million ($26.8+ million) in debt that equals nearly a third of the property valuation of our county.
 With mounting national debt, one can assume that there will be an effect on Medicare. Obamacare has tapped nearly three quarters of a trillion dollars from Medicare which very likely will at some point reduce Medicare reimbursements to hospitals. If this happens, necessary revenue expected to be generated by the hospital would be reduced at the same time operating expenses would continue to increase. This could necessitate the obligation of Cloud County to increase property tax in order to meet our debt/liability on the hospital building bonds.
 With the proposed sales tax increase it would mean that over nine ($9) dollars of every hundred ($100) dollars we spend on groceries would be sales tax. Our population has fallen to an estimated 9,365 people with 20% over the age of 65 years. Our population can continue to fall at the rate of around 200 people per year due to death and students leaving for study and work. It would be questionable whether we could raise enough sales tax to fund the county portion of this project, especially if the hospital has reimbursement failures.
 In view of these facts, I am unable to support a sales tax which would obligate the people of Cloud County to be responsible for a debt of over $26 million dollars. If you are unable to vote on Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2013, please go to the courthouse and vote early.
                                 Sincerely,
                                 Joann Lee Freeborn