Council Requests Clarifications on Resolution to Create Health Services District

Jay Brooke



The Lamar City Council has asked the proponents of the Sage Brush Meadows Nursing Home project for additional detailed information on their service plan and distinctions regarding how the proposed 1% sales tax increase for the new district would distinguish sales tax from user’s tax applications.

The proponents of the health services district had appeared before the council in earlier meetings, narrowing the specifics required by state regulations needed to put a measure on the November ballot for a 1% sales tax within the district. The council needed to be satisfied that all requirements had been met by the Sage Brush Meadows board before deciding on the resolution.

The Special Health Services District, basically the City of Lamar, would allow a 1% sales tax to fund the repayment of debt incurred to build a 54 bed nursing home south of Lamar, estimated at $16M. Once the bonds had been repaid through the sales tax, estimated at about 30 years, it would be eliminated.  The measure to approve or disapprove the sales tax measure will be put before Lamar voters in the November General Election so long as the council decides to approve a resolution to create the new health services district.  Without the support letter from the council, the matter won’t go on the ballot.

That’s one sticking point for the council. Councilwoman Bev Haggard reiterated an earlier argument against the project, saying the newly created district would use tax dollars to support a non-profit venture which would compete against established nursing homes.  Sage Brush proponent, Jillane Hixson, countered that tax dollars are currently generating the Medicaid funds which residents use to pay for nursing home care.  Hixson said the revenue generated by the Sage Brush project would stay local, as a non-profit operation while commercial nursing homes send their profits out of state.  Jay Brooke, group spokesperson, added that a study of local buying trends indicated that about 40% of credit card purchases made within the City of Lamar are done by non-residents, alleviating some of the financial burden.

Councilman Kirk Crespin said he felt the letter of support from the council would act as a complete endorsement of the project, fully supported by the council in all aspects of the service plan. Given the outcome of the Lamar Repowering Project, also supported by the council, he was reluctant to commit to the letter without additional information.

City Attorney, Garth Neischburg, expressed concerns about some language conflicts regarding sales tax or use tax as it appeared in the service plan. He said language conformity is needed to withstand a potential corporate challenge from a competing nursing home and advised the group appear before the council with its lawyer.    Councilwoman Crampton requested more specifics in the proposal’s budget at the next meeting which will be a work session set for 6:30pm on Monday, June 4th.  Jay Brooke explained the nursing home proponents have until July 30th to move the completed paperwork before the District Court for consideration for the November ballot.

By Russ Baldwin






Filed Under: City of LamarConsumer IssuesElectionsFeaturedHealthHot TopicsHousing


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