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Voters agree to remove sunset on Montezuma County Hospital District sales tax

Voters agreed to remove a sales tax sunset provision for the Montezuma County Hospital District, which owns Southwest Memorial Hospital in Cortez.
In exchange, the mill levy was reduced 25%; voter turnout was 16%

Voters approved a tax referendum for the Montezuma County Hospital District in a special election Tuesday.

Referendum 6A passed 55% to 45% with 1,960 voting yes and 1,623 voting no.

The approved referendum removes a sunset provision on the district’s 0.04% sales tax in exchange for reducing the property tax mill levy by 25% to 0.7445 mills from 0.994 mills. The tax was set to expire in 2030.

“Good news,” said MCHD board member Joseph Dean Mathews when results were announced at Kelly McCabe law firm. “This is extremely important for the well-being of the hospital.”

Out of 21,500 ballots sent out, 3,583 were returned, said designated MCHD election official Keenen Lovett.

Voter turnout was just 16%.

More than 200 ballots were dropped off Election Day, and just as many on Monday, he said.

Mathews felt the voters appreciated the compromise of reducing property taxes in exchange for removing the tax sunset provision.

“We felt it was a fair approach, and reduces the burden on property owners,” Mathews said.

Montezuma County Hospital District Attorney Kelly McCabe, board member Dean Mathews and district owner representative Ralph Wegner wait for election results at McCabe's law office. The measure passed 55% to 45%. (Jim Mimiaga/The Journal)

Also on the ballot is the election of five incumbent board members, who were all uncontested. Board members Fred DeWitt, Brandon Johnson and Mathews will serve one-year terms. William Randall Thompson and Robert Dobry will serve three-year terms.

According to ballot language, the additional funding will pay for construction of an Emergency Department, renovations of surgery facilities, replacement of hospital equipment and maintenance of the hospital campus.

The funding also would pay for operation and use expenses for hospital facilities, including the new emergency department, the new patient wing, outpatient care facilities and the ambulance parking facility.

With a permanent sales tax approved, the hospital plans restructure its $32 million bond debt to $55 million through the issue of revenue bonds backed by the sales tax.

A $32 million bond funded a campus improvement project in 2018 that included the two-story, 25,000-square-foot medical office building, new 13-room hospital patient wing, upgraded birthing center, new front entrance and lobby, new EMS station and campus consolidation.