The effects on population health status of using dedicated property taxes to fund local public health agencies

Honoré, Peggy A.; Fos, Peter J.; Xueyuan Wang; Moonesinghe, Ramal
January 2011
BMC Public Health;2011, Vol. 11 Issue 1, p471
Academic Journal
Background: In the United States, a dedicated property tax describes the legal authority given to a local jurisdiction to levy and collect a tax for a specific purpose. We investigated for an association of locally dedicated property taxes to fund local public health agencies and improved health status in the eight states designated as the Mississippi Delta Region. Methods: We analyzed the difference in health outcomes of counties with and without a dedicated public health tax after adjusting for a set of control variables using regression models for county level data from 720 counties of the Mississippi Delta Region. Results: Levying a dedicated public health tax for counties with per capita income above $28,000 is associated with improved health outcomes of those counties when compared to counties without a dedicated property tax for public health. Alternatively, levying a dedicated property tax in counties with lower per capita income is associated with poor health outcomes. Conclusions: There are both positive and negative consequences of using dedicated property taxes to fund public health. Policymakers should carefully examine both the positive association of improved health outcomes and negative impact of taxation on poor populations before authorizing the use of dedicated local property tax levies to fund public health agencies.


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