Mac County Hospitals seek continued sales tax

Mac County Hospitals seek continued sales tax

Written by Teri L. Hansen (Marquette Tribune) with contributions from McPherson Center for Health

On May 21, McPherson County voters will cast ballots in a special election to extend a half-cent sales tax that benefits the McPherson Center for Health, Lindsborg Community Hospital and Mercy Hospital. This tax is crucial for these local institutions, providing them with the means to continue delivering essential health care services and the capability for further advancements. The IO-year sales tax has been in place since 2014 and came in handy during the pandemic. A yes vote will extend it for an additional 10 years, meaning the current tax rate will not change.

“McPherson Center for Health receives approximately $2.3 million annually, which is a substantial part of our operating budget;’ CFO and Interim CEO of McPherson Center for Health Tanner Wealand said. “It allows us to maintain excellent health care in our community and offer new services locally.”

Earlier this year, Kansans saw a reduction in sales tax due to the Axe the Food Tax bill signed into effect by Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly in May 2022.

Over a period of years, sales tax on groceries in Kansas will come to an end due to the bill. The state sales tax rate is 6.5 percent. On Jan. 1, 2023, that rate went down to 4 percent, then on Jan. 1, it went down to 2 percent.

In McPherson County, receipts will often reflect two sales tax charges.

One will show 2 percent for the state and the other will show a 1.5 percent charge for the county. In McPherson proper, an additional 1 percent is added in for the city sales tax. For non-grocery items, 9 percent is charged for sales tax because of the 6.5 percent state sales tax for non-grocery items.

According to McPherson County health officials, Mercy Hospital and Lindsborg Community Hospital also rely on the tax funds, with each receiving an average of $380,000 per year.

“The sales tax is a lifeline for maintaining emergent care capabilities in Moundridge,” Administrator and CFO of Mercy Hospital Aaron Herbel said. “It’s essential to ensure that our community retains immediate access to critical health services when they need them the most.”

Larry Van Der Wege, Administrator of Lindsborg Community Hospital, emphasized the broader community benefits.

“Having excellent health care close to home is vital for our seniors, families and the hardworking industrial sector of our community. This funding is key to providing that.” he said.

At one point, the vote for this issue was possibly going on the ballot during the November 2023 elections. However, with the USD 418 bond question already on the ballot, it had to be postponed. According to McPherson County Clerk Hollie Melroy, the Kansas Secretary of State has asked that no other questions be sub-mitted to voters. As a result, the question will be on the ballot during the primary elections.

This article was originally published in the Marquette Tribune Vol. 139, No. 43 on Feb. 22, 2024