Opp, AL (WSFA) - More than a year ago, Opp city leaders unanimously passed a one-cent sales tax increase with the sole purpose of helping Mizell Hospital get rid of its largest debt of $6.5 million. Now, that debt is $220,000 less.
"It's helping us operationally to be able to stabilize," said Jana Wyatt, administrator for Mizell Hospital.
"Medicaid wasn't expanded," said Opp mayor Becky Bracke.
Mayor Bracke initiated the idea and looking back, she has no regrets; it was either step in or watch it die.
"We did the right thing and like I said, a community needs a hospital and if you can help them, you gotta help them," she said.
City revenue records show that one-cent tax increase generates on average of about $50,000 a month, more than enough for Mizell to tackle that debt and then some.
"Any extra, you know, is around $15,000 a month goes towards other capital purchases," said Wyatt.
Mayor Bracke says there's been negative impact in the overall business climate in Opp.
"I think if you think about it if people want to go out of town and safe a half a cent, what are you doing? Are you going to help your town for a half a cent?" said Mayor Bracke.
The slow turnaround comes on the heels of tough times for Mizell, including layoffs and cuts in services. Mizell is improving and no longer in critical condition. Mayor Bracke says the one-cent sales tax is renewable every year and sees no reason why it should be rescinded at least until the hospital wipes away its largest debt.