|Ocala, FL -
November 6, 2012|
Posted Wednesday, November 7, 2012 at 1:05 by Star-Banner Online
A new property tax to support the publicly owned Munroe Regional Medical Center was a flop with local voters Tuesday.
The tax, which would have expired after five years, was designed to pay for equipment and improvements that Munroe officials say would have allowed them to remain competitive in the health care marketplace.
But despite an expensive lobbying effort mounted by Munroe supporters, voters rejected the proposal 58 percent to 42 percent.
The tax managed to get a majority of “yes” votes in just 12 of the county’s 127 precincts, almost all of them huddled in a concentrated area of west Ocala between U.S. 441 and Interstate 75.
It appears, then, that minority voters in west Ocala favored the tax more than voters elsewhere. Precincts 10 (Lillian Bryant Center), 2 (Hampton Center), and 9 (Zion United Methodist Church) all have large populations of minority voters, and all three voted for the tax by comfortable majorities.
In the critical State Road 200 area, which often decides close elections because of the large number of voting seniors, only the two precincts in the Oak Run retirement community favored the tax, and that by a slim margin. That isn’t a surprise, considering that developer Kulbir Ghumman, who founded Oak Run, had been a longtime trustee on the Munroe hospital board.
Opposition to the tax, meanwhile, was particularly strong in The Villages of Marion and in the south Marion County area, which has a high concentration of retirees.
The three precincts in The Villages defeated the tax by better than a 2-1 margin, a combined 3,337 to 1,507. Nearby precincts in Umatilla and Summerfield opposed it by similarly large margins.