JOANN KALENAK, SENIOR BLOGGER/DCCR — Our hospital is in trouble — and the Delta Health Board of Directors is leaving no stone unturned to find ways to get out of the financial crisis in which they find themselves.
On January 10, 2022, they decided that it was time to go to the taxpayers for help and voted, without public notice, to refer a Tabor measure for inclusion on their May Special District ballot. (They will later decide whether the initiative will ask for a sales tax hike or an increase in property tax by resetting the mill levy to past amounts.)
The BOD hired a public affairs firm to implement a campaign to convince Delta County voters that, rather than close the hospital’s doors or be sold to a conglomerate-sized outside medical company, taxpayers need to step up and save the facility. The public affairs firm 76 Group are the same folks that got the Back the Badge ballot measure passed in Mesa County that later ignited the same measure in Delta County.
After two tries, Back the Badge passed in Delta County changing our sales tax from 2% to 2.8% — and the money is rolling in. The 2022 county budget projects that the Back the Badge fund will end the year with some $1 million left over in the bank.
Now, the Delta Health BOD wants to do the same thing.
Is the need real? I have no doubt. But, at 7% inflation and the issues caused by an ongoing pandemic, can Delta County taxpayers really handle yet another tax increase even for such an important purpose?
While 76 Group disagrees, I think not — and I offer another idea.
How about an initiative to back-pedal the Back the Badge tax hike and a new initiative that would split the .8% sales tax now going to law enforcement with the hospital. This won’t make up all of the hospital’s loss, but it would certainly help.
Clearly, the .8% Back the Badge measure was more than the county needed. Why not spread the wealth without raising taxes?