Tobacco tax money tops county agenda |

Tobacco tax money tops county agenda

Usage of $47 million from the Master Tobacco Settlement allocated to El Dorado County will go before the county Board of Supervisors today.

The money given to El Dorado County came with no stipulations on how it was to be spent. The county board voted to use the funds to build a new justice court, a move that upset many in the medical community.

In response, Barton and Marshall hospitals, along with clinics throughout the county formed the El Dorado County Health Alliance to lobby against the board’s proposal. Members of the Health Alliance have said they feel that while there was no mandatory prescribed use for the funds, the clear implication was that it was meant to used for health care services.

In July 2000, the Health Alliance submitted to the supervisors its own proposal for how the funds should be used. The county board voted for a 30 day deferral of the proposal to study its impacts. The deferral bumped consideration of the Health Alliance plan past the Aug. 11 deadline to add items to the ballot for the November election. As a result, the proposal was not put to the public vote. The next possible date it could be put up for public approval is 2002.

The county board does have the power to enact the proposal without the consent of the public. When the issue goes up for consideration today, it will do so before a board which has three new members with pro-health care backgrounds.

“I think of course, it is a wonderful turn of events for us,” said Health Alliance member Linda George. I think that this new board wants to be really careful and do what the people want.”

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