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McPhersonSentinel - McPherson, KS
  • County mulls sales tax for hospitals

  • Officials from McPherson and Moundridge hospitals presented their proposal for a half-cent sales tax to the McPherson County Commission Monday morning.
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  • Officials from McPherson and Moundridge hospitals presented their proposal for a half-cent sales tax to the McPherson County Commission Monday morning.
    The proposal would be placed on the November ballot. The hospitals would like the tax to sunset after 10 years, during which time they will invest in facility improvements and staff.
    McPherson Hospital also will raise private funds to pay for these investments. Rob Monical, CEO of McPherson Hospital, said this will allow the hospital to serve more people locally, thus increasing hospital revenue.
    Plans include hiring more primary care physicians and specialists as well as expanding the physician clinic space, updating surgical suites and building a new intensive care unit.
    Monical said about half the patients in McPherson Hospital's catchment are going out of town for care. This, combined with an increase in bad debt and decreases in Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements, could cause financial problems for both hospitals in the future.
    Monical said this could cause problems for area industry, as they may not be able to get emergency services they need.
    “If we don’t get another source of revenue, we’re looking at drastic changes that won’t be for the best of our communities,” Monical said. “None of us like to see taxes imposed on anything, but it’s something we have to do.”
    The commissioners expressed concerns about how long the tax would last and its scope. The tax would include Lindsborg, though Lindsborg Hospital has decided not to participate in the sales tax initiative.
    McPherson Hospital board members said a 10-year sunset will help ensure funds are available for all planned upgrades, something a five-year sunset wouldn’t do.
    The commission decided to table the issue until Aug. 18.
    The commission approved $227,000 for federally funded bridge replacement projects on Old Highway 81 south of Elyria. It also approved $17,000 for a preliminary engineering design to replace 334 traffic signs in the southwest quadrant of the county. The county has received a $225,000 grant to replace these signs.
    Contact Josh Arnett by email at jarnett@mcphersonsentinel.com and follow him on Twitter @ArnettSentinel.

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