Election Guide 2016: Referendum 5A — Mill levy increase sought for South Routt Medical Center
Referendum 5A - South Routt Medical Center
Shall the South Routt Medical Center Health Service District taxes be increased up to $185,285.00 for the next tax year 2016 collected January 1, 2017 to collect and to retain taxes to be assessed annually thereafter by the imposition of the advalorem property tax rate of an additional 2.000 mills resulting in a total mill levy of 4.095 mills commencing January 1, 2017, for tax year 2016 and continuing thereafter, to provide medical services including general operations and capital improvements; and shall the district be authorized to collect, retain, and spend all tax revenues and the earnings from investment of such revenues collected from such total property tax rate commencing January 1, 2017 and continue thereafter as a voter approved revenue change, and an exception to the limits which otherwise apply under tabor (article x, section 20, of the Colorado Constitution) or any other law?
Steamboat Springs — The board of directors of the South Routt Medical Center, based in Oak Creek, are seeking a property tax increase to support the center’s mission, which provides a large swath of Routt County with physician care, physical therapy and soon-to-be restored dental care.
The board is asking voters in the district to approve a near doubling of the current 2.095 mills of property tax to fund the center’s expanding services and expanding clientele.
Without the additional 2 mills of property tax, which would bring the total to 4.095 mills, South Routt Medical Center District manager Ken Rogers said he and the board would have to consider service reductions in order to remain solvent.
The increased mill levy is projected to provide an additional $185,285 in revenue. The tax increase would cost $18 annually per $100,000 of residential property value.
“If we don’t see this mill levy increase, we would have a negative balance by the end of year and would have to make some serious adjustments,” Rogers said. “It could be reduced hours,” of operation.
The South Routt Medical Center’s taxing district stretches from the northern boundary just south of the intersection of Colorado Highway 131 and Routt County Road 14 stretching to the south to Stagecoach and Oak Creek and further to nearly the Eagle County line then west along Routt County to take in Twentymile Coal Mine.
South Routt Medical’s initial mill levy was approved by voters in 2011, but it just isn’t enough to fund the current level of services and debt, Rogers said.
The medical center is open five days a week with either one or two physicians in house, plus a physician’s assistant and a physical therapist, with those medical professionals coming to South Routt from practices in Steamboat Springs.
The South Routt Medical Center sees patients from outside its tax boundary and is perhaps the most egalitarian medical clinic in the county, taking unlimited numbers of Medicare and Medicaid patients, seeing a significant number of children whose parents might not otherwise receive dental care.
“We don’t turn anyone down,” Rogers said.
Rogers said a variety of factors are combining to cloud the medical center’s fiscal situation. The federal Affordable Care Act and the expansion of Medicaid are bringing in more patients providing reduced revenues. And the debt service on a renovation of the facilities in 2014 requires $42,000 of debt service annually.
The decision to seek the mill levy was also informed by the uncertainty about the future of coal and coal-fired power plant industry in Northwest Colorado in an era of adverse regulatory and market conditions.
“The whole thing with Peabody not initially paying taxes was kind of an eye opener,” Rogers added. “We sort of have to ask the question what if Peabody starts to devalue personal property? That’s more than 43 percent of our tax revenue.”
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