County approves CHOICES change

Published: Thursday, December 1, 2011 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, November 30, 2011 at 3:37 p.m.

With the quarter-cent sales tax that funds the county's CHOICES health services program expiring at year's end and the program expected to continue through at least 2013, county commissioners last Tuesday changed the limit on administrative costs.

The limit was 15 percent of the sales tax proceeds in any individual fiscal year. With no revenue coming in after the end of this year, the limit was changed to no more than 15 percent of the total program revenues during the life of the tax.

CHOICES director Bob Bailey said the program has never approached the 15 percent limit and administrative expenses have averaged approximately 7 percent of annual revenues. But, with no revenues except interest on the program's trust fund coming in, the change was necessary to keep the program going as commissioners intend. The change passed 4-1, with Commissioner Susan Baird in dissent.

As of late August, the sales tax had generated $62.8 million during its life. Total expenditures were approximately $26 million and administrative costs were approximately $4.69 million.

Approved by less than 90 votes during the 2004 primary, the CHOICES sales tax primarily funds health care access for the working uninsured but also puts money toward health and wellness programs open to all county residents.

Christopher Curry is a Gainesville staff writer.

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