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Fla. County Wants to Finance Drug Treatment Through Alcohol Tax

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Polk County, Fla.’s County Commission will ask state legislators to allow it to seek a 1 percent tax on retail alcohol sales to pay for substance abuse treatment and related services.

News Chief reported Dec. 16 that the Polk County Commission is modeling its effort after an initiative in Miami-Dade County, where commissioners won legislative approval to pursue a local option food and beverage tax to finance services for the homeless, including drug and alcohol treatment. Polk County would like an alcohol tax to fund substance use treatment services for all residents in need.

If the state Legislature approves the county’s request in 2011, the county then would establish a service provider task force and would seek voter approval for the tax.

A County Commission resolution that passed on Dec. 15 states that Polk County lacks treatment programs as well as facilities to provide education, training and vocational support services for individuals with substance use problems.

County Attorney Michael Craig indicated that if a referendum were to pass, the county might consider a public-private partnership to establish and operate the needed services.

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