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Trego County voters agree to sales tax boost for hospital


A look at some of the top stories from northwest Kansas in 2013.



WaKEENEY -- Scared they might lose their hospital, Trego County voters were quick to approve a 1-percent sales tax that could provide as much as $500,000 to the facility annually.

That's on top of the $1.8 million in no-fund warrants Trego County commissioners agreed to give to Trego County-Lemke Memorial Hospital, even though nearly half of it went into a reserve fund against future economic calamities.

Commissioners also planned to hike the hospital's mill levy by approximately $60,000 to $265,000, all of which was supposed to ultimately add $700,000 annually to the hospital's coffers.

Early on, commissioners warned they wanted to reduce both the general fund and road and bridge budget by 1.5 percent.

The rush to provide money came on the heels of a report the hospital was hemorrhaging badly, the result of an adverse review under the federal Medicare program.

Ultimately, many of the cuts were restored, but it depleted hospital reserves.

It wasn't long, however, before the hospital returned to profitability, even though much of the initial profit was built on the back of the no-fund warrants.

Trego County will repay the $1.8 million -- plus interest -- during the next four years.