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Wellington Daily News - Wellington, KS
  • City considering putting sales tax on ballot for hospital

  • Hernandez and other hospital officials met with the city to talk about the possibility of putting a one-cent sales tax on the ballot in November to support the hospital.
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  • By James Jordan
    The Wellington Daily News
    The Sumner County Regional Medical Center had one of its best months in recent memory in June, and July looks pretty good too, hospital director Leonard Hernandez told the Wellington City Council at a recent work session.
    The half cent to support the hospital, and whether to put fluoride in the water, will be voted on at the next meeting in August in time to get both questions on the ballot for the November election.
    Hernandez and other hospital officials met with the city to talk about the possibility of putting a one-cent sales tax on the ballot in November to support the hospital.
    There is currently a half-cent sales tax on the books, and that would be repealed if this were passed.  The half-cent is due to expire in July of 2015. There was another half-cent sales tax that expired in January of 2014.
    Hernandez has been working to make some improvements to the bottom line at the hospital, such as hiring a surgeon and getting help with billing. They are also seeking sole community provider status, which will change how the hospital is reimbursed.
    “Even if we change things, we are not going to be totally self sufficient. We awill need some additional funding,” he said.
    Hospital officials pointed out that the local hospital is not unique in its financial struggles. A lot of small town hospitals struggle and the local community has to support them through a sales tax or some other means of support.
    The city gave the hospital 800,000 earlier this year in order to help it make ends meet.
    The hospital should get $1.2 million per year with a one-cent sales tax. In the past Wellington has supported the hospital with wide margins of vote.
    In order to get the sales tax on the November Ballot, the city would have to approve a measure during a meeting in August.
    Fluoride
    There may be a measure on the November ballot to let voters decide whether to put fluoride in water in Wellington. The city currently uses a small amount, and many cities do.  According to a report from the city, Winfield is the only area city that does not have fluoride in its water.
    The issue has become more controversial lately, with people speaking out against it.
    Wellington City Councilman John Tracy brought up the idea. He said he has heard comments form people opposed to the use of fluoride.
    “I  don’t have an opinion. It is easy to put it on the ballot and let people decide,” he said.
    Council member Jan Korte said she has seen studies that report no difference in cavities with or without fluoride.
    Page 2 of 2 - It was suggested to get some opinions from doctors or dentists.
    Tracy said it could be a spirited public debate, and doctors could be part of that.
    Councilman John Brand said it is possible to find research supporting either side of the issue. He was concerned that one organized group on one side or the other could get involved and slant public opinion.
    The city spends $3,900 on fluoride each year, and there is no cost to put it on the ballot in November.

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