WAURIKA, OK (TNN) - Voters in Jefferson County will decide on March 5th whether they want to continue a sales tax that goes toward paying off Jefferson County Hospital’s debt.
A few years ago, the hospital in Jefferson County nearly closed after going around $2.2 million in debt. The sales tax that goes to the hospital along with the help from another local hospital has kept them open.
"We needed to service that debt but Jefferson County Hospital did not have the means to do that, so Duncan Regional agreed to co-sign the note with the hope that the constituents of the county would renew the sales tax for another five years," Richard Gillespie, the President of the Jefferson County Hospital said.
Bryce Bohot, Chairman of the Jefferson County Board of Commissioners, said the time has now come for voters to show Duncan Regional Hospital a debt of gratitude for keeping Jefferson County Hospital’s doors open.
"When they did us a favor by coming in and bailing our county hospital out, we should keep our word and retire the debt," Bohot said.
Gillespie said if it doesn't pass, it won't cause the hospital to close, but it could impact future plans.
"There are plans for the hospital going forward to improve and do enhancements with the facility and we wouldn't be able to do those enhancements and then Duncan Regional would have to pay the balance of the debt," Gillespie said.
If Jefferson County voters don’t pass the continuation of the sales tax, it ends in October of this year, but if they pass it, it will continue until October of 2024. If it’s paid off sooner than that the sales tax will stop.