Hospital asks for special election to reconsider tax levy

by Russ Pankonin

Grant Tribune-Sentinel

Board members of Perkins County Health Services voted unanimously during their regular meeting Monday to seek a special election for the reinstatement of the hospital’s tax levy authority. 

PCHS is asking for a levy of 3.5 cents per $100 of valuation to be approved by county voters for general operations in 2018-2019 budget year. 

A special mail-in ballot election will be conducted in August asking voters to restore the levy.

Levy dates back to 1980s

Since the early 1980s, the hospital has collected a property tax levy for the general operation of the hospital. 

Prior to 1998, the levy was 7 cents per $100 of valuation. Most recently, the levy was 3.5 cents per $100 of valuation. 

After the hospital district was formed in 1993, the district was required to get voter approval for levy authority every five years. 

For the first time ever, Perkins County voters voted against approving continuation of the levy for the next five-year period in the November 2016 General Election. The vote failed by 90 votes, 783 to 609.

The current levy authority expires after the upcoming 2017-18 budget year. 

If voters do not approve another extension in the August election, PCHS will lose tax support of approximately $465,000 for the 2018-19 budget year. 

Patron dissatisfaction?

The November 2016 levy defeat came on the heels of a $15.4 million addition and renovation project. The new 20-bed addition was completed in early 2016 while the renovation of existing facilities is now nearing completion. 

At Monday’s meeting, board members, administration and staff acknowledged several factors likely played into the defeat of the levy authority request.

Dana McArtor, vice-president of nursing, said some patrons felt the board should have sought a vote of the people before launching the building project. 

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