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Sales tax would aid Russell hospital

By KALEY CONNER

kconner@dailynews.net

When Russell County residents head to the polls April 6, they will vote on a 0.5-percent sales tax benefiting Russell Regional Hospital.

The five-year countywide tax would generate funds for health care services and maintenance projects, said Chief Executive Officer Shelly Boden.

"It is needed for the continuation of providing quality care to the community and those we serve," Boden said. "Without it, we are going to have to look at what services we provide and the number of employees that we have, and see the reductions we'll have to make."

A sales tax in the same amount has been in place for the past five years, generating about $520,000 last year, she said.

Most of those funds have been used for infrastructure improvements, including sewer line and heating and air conditioning repairs. Future needs include boiler repairs and an emergency generator, Boden said.

The county-owned hospital is operated by West Central Kansas Association, a five-person board.

The facility employs 154 full-time and 41 part-time staff.

It offers 25 patient beds and includes a 29-bed nursing home. Russell Regional Hospital also houses the county's Emergency Medical Services.

Boden said she is optimistic residents will approve the tax continuation.

"There is a long history of strong community support for the hospital," she said. "I believe the majority of Russell County residents know the importance of having local health care available."

Another special question also will appear on some county ballots. Lorraine USD 328, with schools in Wilson, and Claflin USD 354 in Barton County have proposed consolidation. The issue affects about 170 Russell County voters, including the city of Dorrance, County Clerk Mary Nuss said.

Russell and Lucas city council candidates also are up for election.

While local spring elections historically have not drawn a large turnout, Nuss said she's hoping this year will be the exception.

"I'm hoping for a high turnout," she said. "I'm hoping between the school district question and the countywide sales tax question we get a good turnout."

Russell City Council candidates:

Ward 1: Carol Boxberger

Ward 2: Paul E. Phillips

Ward 3: Larry J. Daugherty

Ward 4: Mick Allen, incumbent

Heather Fletcher

Lucas City Council candidates:

Position 3: Tarry Dougherty

Sue Ellen Wenthe

Position 4: Sheree Ward-Herold, incumbent

Richard A. Urban

Position 5:

Trent Leach, incumbent

William Schneider