A fact sheet was emailed to county residents concerning the 1 percent sales tax to build a hospital in De Queen/Sevier County that will be on the ballot of the Oct. 8 special election. 

According to the information provided, Sevier County is asking voters to approve two measures: the sale of bonds with a cap amount of $24,250,000, and a 1 percent sales tax to pay for construction, maintenance and operations of a county owned hospital. 

“County sales tax increases must be approved by voters,” the fact sheet states.

The fact sheet emphasized that the proposed sales tax increase is 1 percent, which is equal to one cent per every dollar spent on taxable sales, and is not a property tax.

It states that the county’s existing sales tax is distributed in the following ways:

• 1 percent general sales tax (split by county and cities based on population – roughly 49 percent to county and 51 percent to cities and towns)

• 1/2 percent solid waste tax

• 3/8 percent jail maintenance and operations

• 1/4 percent college

If approved by voters, sales tax collections are expected to begin June 1, 2020 and would not expire. The taxes would be paid by everyone purchasing goods or services subject to a sales and use tax in Sevier County, including inside city limits.

If approved, bonds have a cap in the amount of $24,250,000 to construct a new 12 bed, state of the art hospital. 

“This is maximum amount required by law for this project,” the fact sheet states. “Right now, projections are calling for only $18,000,000 in total project costs. Only the amount needed will be borrowed.”

A portion of the 1 percent sales tax collected will go toward paying off bond debt while the remainder of sales tax collected will be spent toward operations and maintenance of the hospital.

According to historical data, the proposed 1 percent sales and use tax increase would generate approximately $1.9 million annually.

The proposed hospital will be overseen by a board composed of seven Sevier County residents appointed by the county judge and quorum court. In order to allow the emergency room to open as soon as possible, there is a plan to partner with Mena Regional Medical Center on a temporary basis for emergency room services.

It is anticipated that the proposed hospital has the potential to employ more than 100 people and generate approximately $5.5 million in local taxpayer salaries. 

“The addition of a new hospital to health services already available in Sevier County would undoubtedly be an asset for attracting businesses and potential residents to Sevier County,” the fact sheet states. “Lack of emergency room and inpatient health care could be a factor that prevents businesses and industries from looking to locate in Sevier County.”

The fact sheet states that Sevier County voters can check their voter status or find out where they are supposed to vote on Election Day by calling the Sevier County Clerk’s Office at (870) 642-2852.

A series of public meetings are scheduled and will be open to the public. All begin at 6 p.m.

• Sept. 9, Monday, De Queen School Cafeteria 

• Sept. 10, Tuesday, Horatio Elementary School Cafeteria 

• Sept. 16, Monday, In Spanish, De Queen School Cafeteria

• Sept. 17, Tuesday, De Queen Mena Coop Conference Room, Gillham

• Sept. 30, Monday, Lockesburg Senior Citizens Center 

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