Commissioners put hospital levy before Ruby Valley voters

Residents of the Ruby Valley Hospital District will get a chance to vote on a mill levy to support the facility thanks to a resolution passed by Madison County Commissioners Tuesday.

Ruby Valley Hospital administrator John Semingson was present to discuss the levy with commissioners, and explained the levy is necessary to ensure the continued successful operation of the hospital.

“What we’re looking at is having that financial support from the residents of the hospital district,” Semingson said.

The mill levy request will be for 25 mills.

In 2008, the mill levy for the Ruby Valley Hospital District was reduced from 30 mills to 25 mills for a period of four years. At the time, the levy cost $49.68 levy for a home in the district valued at $100,000. For a home valued at $200,000 the taxes were approximately $99.36. The four-year levy that passed in 2008 expires in May of this year.

Should this levy, which will be on the May 8 school election ballot, property taxes for a home in the Ruby Valley Hospital District valued at $100,000 would be approximately $36.83 per year while a home valued at $200,000 would be approximately $73.66 per year. The new levy would be permanent and would raise approximately $240,000 per year for the operation of the Ruby Valley Hospital.

The decision for the permanent levy comes down from more than 700 health needs assessment surveys sent out by the Ruby Valley Hospital Board of Trustees. Once the tax dollars are collected they are deposited into accounts called board designated funds, which are only accessible through a request to the Board of Trustees, Semingson said.

Sheridan resident and Madison County Commissioner candidate Ken Yecny voiced his opposition to the levy during the public comment period on the issue. He questioned whether or not it was right to impose a permanent levy at a time when the economy is down, and pointed out that the hospital’s status as a designated trauma center means that they may receive a higher reimbursement for their services.

“What happens if this fails?” he asked, adding, “I would think you would have a better chance at passing a four-year levy than a permanent levy.”

Commissioners discussed the necessity of having a permanent levy as opposed to a short term one, similar to the 25-mill levy passed in 2008. Commissioner Dave Schulz offered his observations on how far the hospital has come since that time.

“I can see that with regard to the hospital getting their financial stability put in place, it has also enhanced their ability to provide service,” Schulz said.

“The thing about this issue is this is a request that’s come from the district, and if there was an outcry to not support it, I’d certainly understand that,” he added.

Semingson expanded on the needs of the hospital district, and what the levy means to the future of the hospital district.

“The financial picture for the Ruby Valley Hospital is probably as strong right now as it’s ever been,” he said. “But it’s taken the last four years to reach that. Having secured support on a tax levy is really what is needed to help us stabilize the funding.”

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