Opp ups sales tax for hospital

Published 1:22 am Friday, June 9, 2017

The Opp City Council on Thursday approved an ordinance increasing its sales tax to support Mizell Memorial Hospital.

The measure, which becomes effective Aug. 1, is expected to generate $540,000 annually. Mayor Becky Bracke said the council has not yet determined how much of that will go to the hospital.

Before asking council members to vote, Bracke said the hospital is one of Opp’s best assets, and is essential if the community is to continue to attract new residents. She was convinced to take this step following attendance at tow different meetings, she said.

“I recently spent three days at a retail conference talking to businesses about coming to Opp,” she said. “They ask, ‘What’s your population? What’s your traffic count? How’s your workforce.’

“Keep in mind, we are competing with Enterprise, Dothan, Birmingham, Huntsville and Andalusia. All of these other people are asking for their business, too,” Bracke said. “If we are going to encourage people to come to Opp to live, we have to increase our population, increase our work force, and our traffic count. If someone is looking to move to Opp, we have to entice people. And they ask about our school system and if we have a hospital.”

The second event Bracke said convinced her to take this step was a legislative meeting of the Alabama Hospital Association.

“They were talking about rural hospitals, and predicted 20 rural hospitals will close this year,” she said. “We cannot let Mizell Memorial Hospital close.”

Bracke said the city will use the sales tax “to help the hospital implement changes, and help sustain them through these times.”

At present, Opp residents pay 9 percent tax on retail purchase – 4 percent for the state; 1 percent for the county; and 4 percent for the city. Beginning in August, the total sales tax percentage will be 10 percent.

Opp last increased its sales tax in 2007, when it added a 1 percent tax to fund the new elementary school.

Mizell Memorial Hospital is currently licensed for 99 beds with an operating capacity of 54 beds, according to its web site. The hospital employs more than 200 people.

Note: Updated to correct sales tax numbers on June 9, 2017