BELHAVEN, N.C. (WNCT) – For more than three years, Belhaven Mayor Adam O’Neal has been focused on reopening Pungo Hospital.
Now O’Neal has another fight, this time over his taxes.
Court documents show that O’Neal is late on paying taxes, and owes nearly $42,000 to the state. He owes $169,929.33 to the federal government.
WNCT was the only TV station O’Neal sat down with Tuesday to discuss the situation. He said his financials took a hit because he spent so much time away from work to fight to reopen the hospital.
“I just decided it was something bigger than me,” O’Neal told WNCT’s Josh Birch. “I’ve sacrificed, my family has sacrificed financially, in order to fight for this hospital, and we’re going to continue to do so. The finances will take care of themselves, like they always have over my lifetime.”
O’Neal said over the years, he’s spent nearly 40 hours a week trying to reopen Pungo Hospital, which was finally demolished in December.
But it isn’t just him facing financial hardships. Some businesses in town report a 30 percent reduction in sales since the hospital shut down.
“You have to cut employees and things of that nature, but diversifying was the main thing we tried to do and put on a lot of sales and things of that nature,” said Greg Satterthwaite with Riddick and Windley Hardware.
O’Neal said the town is looking at different options to help boost the economy.
He said he remains committed to opening up an emergency room in the town. He said saving lives is the most important thing.