Open Access Open Badges Research article

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

Peggy A Honoré1*, Peter J Fos2, Xueyuan Wang1 and Ramal Moonesinghe3

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Community Health Sciences, University of Southern Mississippi, 118 College Drive, Hattiesburg, MS 39406, USA

2 Health Policy and Systems Management Program, School of Public Health, Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, 2020 Gravier Street, New Orleans, LA 70112, USA

3 Office of Minority Health and Health Disparities, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1600 Clifton Road, Atlanta, GA 30333, USA

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BMC Public Health 2011, 11:471  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-471

Published: 14 June 2011



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.


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.


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.


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.