Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

Real news from Florida for working families since 2007


LSHA: Retired Gen. Says, “Build a Medical College, Keep Taxes Low & Working in a Powerful Way” 

Photo of Shands at Lake Shore Hospital with headline: Retired General has a plan for shuttered hospital, "Build a Medical College"

Recently, the Lake Shore Hospital Authority held a series of meetings to hear proposals for what to do about renovating and converting their dilapidated and under-utilized hospital, of which they have the jurisdiction to determine its future use, into something that will benefit the entire community.

As the Chairman of Floridians for Government Accountability, there are a few things I would point out. The first is that the Lake Shore Authority, although created with good intentions in mind, is a non-elected body with the power of taxation. There are several taxing districts like this in Florida. Our policy as an organization has been to fight for them to be shut down. We believe that taxation decisions should only be made by bodies that are completely accountable to the voters. 

Second, when shutting these authorities down is impossible, we would encourage them to keep the taxes as low as possible and utilize their assets for the common good – not for empire building.

To that end, the Authority heard a proposal from Gateway College that would permit the Authority to keep its taxes very low or non-existent and facilitate the education, training, and preparation of nurses and physician assistants.

We have all heard about the serious shortage of nurses and physician assistants in our state, especially in rural areas like Columbia County. Addressing this shortage seems to be an excellent opportunity for the community to address this problem by bringing in a college that would meet medical workforce needs.

Furthermore, this medical college would significantly impact the local economy. Imagine the commerce generated by the professors, teachers, students, and their families as they shop the local businesses for food, lodging, and other goods and services.

For the residents of Columbia County, now would be the time to reach out to the Lake Shore Hospital Authority and encourage them to move forward with either the medical college proposal or something like it.

It is important to reduce and eliminate taxes when possible. When it is not, keep taxes low and working in a powerful way for all taxpayers.

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