County moves closer to vote on rural healthcare sales tax
by Steve Kadel
staff writer
Feb 21, 2013 | 799 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Grand County Council is looking ahead to a possible June vote on a new 0.5 percent tax to help Canyonlands Care Center resolve its financial dilemma.

Council chairman Gene Ciarus indicated during the council’s Tuesday, Feb. 19, meeting that the issue likely will be on the March 5 agenda for discussion.

The tax has been proposed by a task force as the best option to help finance the extended-care center, which is losing $40,000 to $50,000 each month, center officials have said.

However, it is unclear whether Utah tax code allows a county of Grand’s size to levy the tax for that purpose. The Canyonlands Healthcare Special Service District has written to the Utah State Tax Commission seeking an opinion, but had not received a reply prior to Tuesdays’ council meeting.

Members of the healthcare district spoke during the meeting to urge the council to act quickly in case the tax is declared legal.

The district’s board recently heard a proposal from Mission Health Services of Huntsville to manage the care center, including the addition of skilled nursing services that would prompt higher reimbursement from Medicare than is now being received. Council vice chairman Lynn Jackson asked district representatives whether outside management would provide enough revenue to keep the center viable.

They told him the tax would still be needed to raise money to pay off the center’s construction bond.

Jackson said there should be a public discussion of all options to raise revenue for the center.

“Then it [the tax] stands a better chance of passing,” he said.

Grand County Clerk/Auditor Diana Carroll said April 10 is the latest date to add the potential tax to the June primary election ballot. That means the council would have to decide no later than its April 3 meeting.

“We need to get it on the council agenda so we can start the process,” Ciarus said.

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