Stone County voters pass tax increase for public health

Unofficial election results show that 51.41 percent of voters voted in favor of the tax increase, while 48.59% voted against it.
Published: Nov. 5, 2020 at 3:54 PM CST
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STONE COUNTY, Mo. (KY3) - Voters in Stone County said “yes” to paying more for public health services.

Unofficial election results show that 51.41 percent of voters voted in favor of the tax increase, while 48.59% voted against it.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, public health workers have been putting in long hours.

“Our health department is ready to respond to public health emergencies, which is what this COVID pandemic is all about,” Stone County Health Department Administrator Pam Burnett said.

Burnett says they’ve also had to hire more staff.

“We have been responding 24/7 to this,” Burnett said.

While COVID-19 isn’t the main reason the department asked voters for more funding, it certainly adds to the need.

“It’s been 40 years since Stone County Health Department was voted in as a health center that there has been an increase in tax revenue,” Burnett said.

The 0.0215 tax levy increase will provide an estimated $160,000 in additional funding for public health.

“A home that costs $200,000 will see and about an increase of $6.88,” Burnett said.

Burnett says the money will allow them to add crucial services and maintain services at three locations: Galena, Branson West, and a mobile site in Crane.

“We are going to be able to expand our vaccination program. And it’s going to provide access to healthcare in all of Stone County with remote medical units,” Burnett said.

She says it’ll also help boost health education programs and allow the department to continue a program that supports families with newborn babies.

“A lot of times young families don’t have that support,” Burnett said.

Future plans do not include combining the Galena and Branson West locations to one centralized building. That is an idea that voters have previously shot down.

“We listened to the citizens and they were not in favor of one building,” Burnett said.

Burnett says the support from the county is appreciated and they vow to continue to protect public health.

“We are incredibly honors and proud and would like to say the biggest thank you to all Stone County residents who voted on this. We are going to continue to work hard to protect the health of all those who live, learn, and work here in Stone County,” Burnett said.

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