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Artesia voters renew taxes for hospital

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Artesia General Hospital will continue to receive several millions of dollars a year now that the city’s voters have approved renewal of property taxes to help fund it.
Artesia voters passed the 2.7 mill levy by 162 to 125, according to information posted by the Eddy County Clerk’s Office. About 0.3 percent of the city’s 10,164 registered voters turned out for the Aug. 15 election, Clerk Robin Van Natta said. With the tax, property owners pay $2.70 for every $1,000 in assessed value of their land, homes or businesses each year.

“It wasn’t a large turnout,” said Dennis Maupin, chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Artesia Special Hospital District, established in September 1978. “There was some confusion about the taxes Eddy County had proposed.”
Eddy County Commissioners voted May 24 to pass three new gross receipts taxes that increased sales taxes by one-third of one percent, or about 33 cents for every $100 in taxable goods and services purchased. A few elected officials, including Mayor Phil Burch, have been vocal opponents of some of those increases and have discussed efforts to nullify them.

Maupin said that the hospital tax district must renew its mill levy every four years and that Artesia voters have approved the tax each time since at least 2001, when he became associated with the district.

He said the money is used for general operational funding for the hospital. In the past, Artesia voters also have approved general obligation bonds, which are repaid by property taxes and are used for hospital building projects, he added.
The hospital district owns the hospital building on North 13th Street, the surrounding land and some medical offices.

According to audited financial statements on file with the state, the hospital district, which is not the same as the hospital operations themselves, had assets of $40.86 million as of June 30, 2016. For the fiscal year ended June 2016, it had revenues of $7.01 million and expenses of $6.72 million. The mill levy brought in $4.47 million that year.
Maupin noted that the revenues contributed by the mill levy are tied to oil and gas activity and, therefore, can vary from year to year. He estimated the tax would bring in at least $2 million in the coming fiscal years.

Artesia General Hospital was built in 1939. The nonprofit community hospital employs about 456 people.
Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 310, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.