Voters in Stanley and Tioga supported their local hospitals at the polls Tuesday in approving sales-tax measures to help the facilities handle the pressures of the oil impact.
Most other tax measures in area counties didn't fare so well, although a few did come out in the win column.
Rolla voters approved two measures for infrastructure improvements. One was a $3.5 million storm sewer project, and the other was a water main improvement project. The water main project will be paid for in part with an increase on water bills.
A measure to increase the sales tax in Rolette by a half percent to 1.5 percent passed, but barely, on a vote of 123-120. The measure is eligible for automatic recount. City officials weren't available for comment Wednesday.
Crosby voters supported a 1 percent sales tax for its park district but defeated another 1 percent sales tax for their hospital. The city already levies a 1 percent sales tax for other purposes.
The sales tax for parks may have had the edge given the park board's intent to use a portion to bring the property-tax levy down from 35 mills to 10 mills or less.
Area Ballot Measures
9-1-1 fee increase: yes 342, 43 percent
no 455, 57 percent
hospital sales tax: yes 392, 70 percent
no 165, 30 percent
half percent sales tax: yes 4,513, 49 percent
no 4,651, 51 percent
hospital sales tax: yes 235, 44 percent
no 303, 56 percent
park sales tax: yes 299, 56 percent
no 234, 44 percent
historical society levy increase: yes 930, 44.5 percent
no 1,158, 55.5 percent
water main replacement: yes 357, 74 percent
no 126, 26 percent
storm sewer yes 338, 70.7 percent
no 120, 49.4 percent
home rule charter yes 123, 50.6 percent
no 120, 49.4 percent
sales tax: yes 407, 43 percent
no 539, 57 percent
9-1-1 fee increase: yes 393, 39.5 percent
no 602, 60.5 percent
hospital sales tax: yes 451, 61.4 percent
no 283, 38.6 percent
Bob Gillen, park district director, said it also helped that the community broke ground in October on the new wellness center that half of the sales tax will go toward. Residents could see that the project is a reality, he said.
The sales tax should generate about $300,000 a year for the park system. Half the money would go to continue work on the Northwest Health and Wellness Center. The other half would reduce the mill levy while supporting a full-time staff person and various park improvements.
The levy reduction won't occur until 2014, but the park district will bank the extra proceeds during the time that the sales tax and higher property tax are running jointly, Gillen said. That will enable the district to offer taxpayers a break in the year after the five-year sales tax expires.
Other measures on area ballots that went down were an increase in 9-1-1 fees from $1 to $1.50 in Sheridan and Burke counties; a 1 percent sales tax for infrastructure in Harvey; and in increase in the property tax to .75 mills for the historical society in Pierce County.
A half percent sales tax in Williams County failed by just 144 votes out of 9,164 votes cast.
Although the vote is close enough for another look, Commission Chairman Dan Kalil said that the county would need to try again with voters if the vote stands.
"We need the funds," he said, "especially in the emergency services side."
The tax would have gone to emergency services and infrastructure such as roads and bridges.
Kalil said many measure opponents want the state to come through with the needed dollars insetad. The problem is the lag time in getting money from the Legislature and the lack of flexibility due to strings that typically are attached, he said.
Kalil added that Williams County residents don't want to go begging to the Legislature, either.
"We are from a community that always prides ourselves on taking care of our own problems," he said.
Even as most tax measures met with resistance, 70 percent of Tioga voters agreed to a half percent sales that is expected to raise about $500,000 a year for Tioga Medical Center.
"It's a tremendous boost of support that our community has shown through the passing of this sales tax," hospital administrator Randall Pederson said. "It's good to know that the community supports you."
With the passage of the measure, the hospital will wrap up a financial feasibility study for a new clinic. The tax is expected to be the key to the financing. If that proves to be the case, the hospital will seek a low-interest U.S. Department of Agriculture loan and bids could be let next spring.
The plan is to build the new clinic onto the hospital to increase efficiency and convenience for doctors and patients.
More than 61 percent of Stanley voters supported a half percent sales tax that is expected to generate about $380,000 a year for Mountrail County Medical Center.
In Crosby, the St. Luke's Hospital measure failed 44 percent to 56 percent, almost an exact flip of the vote count for the park measure.