Nevada citizens group asking residents to approve half-cent sales tax for hospital

Tax would help pay down debt

A group in Nevada is asking residents to approve a half-cent sales tax in August.

A group in Nevada, called Citizens United to Strengthen Our Hospital was formed to find ways to keep the Nevada Regional Medical Center operating. After the closure of the Mercy Fort Scott Hospital, it became clear to the community the importance of the NRMC and the services it provides.

That’s when they took at look at it’s debt in 2005 the hospital received a major expansion and renovation and has been paying off a bond to cover that cost, at $1.5 million a year, and still has 12 years to go. But, officials with the group say financial times are tight for rural hospitals, including Nevada, and they needed to find a sure way to pay off the bonds. Dr. Warren Lovinger with Citizens United to Strengthen Our Hospital says “It was proposed to the City of Nevada that a half cent sales tax be implemented in the city that would bring in about $800,000 a year to go exclusively to pay down of the bonds and then be sunsetted at the end of those 12 years.”

Because of the closure of the Fort Scott hospital, Nevada received a Sole Community Hospital designation earning it around $800,000 a year in federal money, which combined with the proposed sales tax revenue, would completely cover the cost of the annual bond payments. “So if the bond payments can be made with these other sources of revenue, then the funds coming in from services provided can be directed at keeping these other essential services going and serving the public of our region.”

We spoke with people in Nevada looking for those in favor and against the sales tax and found one gentleman who declined to go on camera, but told us he isn’t a big fan of a sales tax increase, but does understand the importance of what it’s going to cover. Dr. Lovinger says they’ve had a lot of support for the sales tax and the hospital, and that seems to be the case across the community. “We have had wonderful support, wonderful comments from the citizens of Nevada, now all we have to do is get everyone out there on August 6th to vote in favor of it and we certainly hope that people will.”

If the sales tax increase is approved, it would have a sunset date with the last bond payment in October of 2032.


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