BRADENTON – Manatee County Commissioners are set to vote once more on a health care sales tax referendum, originally approved by a 4-3 vote last month. At the last meeting, Commissioner Michael Gallen, who'd originally voted with the majority to hold the referendum in June, motioned to reconsider the issue, advocating a delay until August of 2014. After much discussion, four commissioners voted to instruct counsel to draft an ordinance to conduct the vote in August of 2013. That ordinance is scheduled for a vote at Tuesday's meeting, as a time specific 9:30 a.m. item.
The referendum seeks to ask for taxpayer approval to implement a half-cent sales tax that would be used to pay for indigent health care services currently covered by a corpus that was established with proceeds from the sale of Manatee Memorial Hospital, but is due to expire by 2015. The county says that implementing the sales tax would allow it to trim the property tax, because the revenues would cover some programs that currently come from the general fund. Critics of the plan argue that it does not address costly inefficiencies in the current model and that the current expansion of Medicaid to cover more indigent patients should render the need for a new tax obsolete.
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