Pocahontas Voters Asked to Approve Tax Increase for Hospital

POCAHONTAS, Ark. (AP) - Local officials say the financially troubled Randolph County Medical Center may survive if the city of Pocahontas takes ownership of the hospital and voters approve a one-cent sales tax this summer that would be used to operate the medical center.

Associated Healthcare Systems owns the 52-bed hospital in Pocahontas. The hospital serves part of northeast Arkansas and southeast Missouri, but has laid off 35 to 40 employees in recent months.

Pocahontas and Randolph County officials have been working with the company to transfer ownership of the hospital to the city. Mayor Gary Crocker says local officials are still negotiating a price for the grounds and buildings. The city hopes Arkansas Methodist Medical Center in Paragould could then operate the hospital.

The Pocahontas City Council has called for a special election June 12 for voters to decide a one-cent sales and use tax. The tax would be collected only on the first $2,500 of each single transaction.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)