Ogallala city residents vote to continue sales tax

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UPDATE: Ogallala residents voted overwhelmingly on Tuesday to continue the city sales tax.

73% of voters voted in favor of continuing the sales tax.
27% voted against.
That's 680 votes for it and 254 against.

The 1/2 cent sales tax revenues will be divided between the hospital and city for 15 years. The tax is set to expire on July 1st, 2019.

Original:

It's a sales tax that has become part of every day life in Ogallala but now voters will be deciding on whether to keep it or do away with it.

It's a sales tax that started 30 years ago to pay for the building of the Ogallala Community Hospital. It's now 2018, the hospital is now paid for and the decision to keep the sales tax is on the ballot.

The city of Ogallala says the sales tax brings in around six hundred thousand dollars. A study done showed that forty six percent of income from the sales tax comes from visitors to the area.

"If that's been satisfied then it's over," said Cirsti Musick of Ogallala who is still deciding if she supports the sales tax.

If the city sales tax is continued, 25% of the revenue would still go to the hospital while the other 75% percent would go towards the city.

"It is not a new tax in a sense, it's just taking those funds and diversifying how we're giving those out," said Karla Scott with the Ogallala Chamber of Commerce.

Ogallala Community Hospital CEO Drew Dostal says the talk still feels it needs extra revenue from the city .

"My worry is can we provide the kind of care that makes sense and is safe for this community in the same building that we have that we built 20 years ago," said Dostal.

One area of concern is the pharmacy that needs to be upgraded to meet new federal regulations.

"Last year we had 565 visits to this infusion center. If we do not upgrade our pharmacy, we will not be able to provide that service any longer," said Dr. Gary Schreiner with the Ogallala Hospital Authority Board.

Ron Schmidt owns Schmidt Motors in Ogallala and says he's okay with the tax continuing, even though it does affect the selling price on his vehicles

"As we all know, once taxed always taxed and so it shouldn't go away, we're used to paying it, it's very important to our city and our infrastructure," said Schmidt.

Some are concerned about tax being used for economic development

"What I've seen happen with all of that is, it's a total failure. The money is just blown because people don't succeed," said Cirsti Musick of Ogallala.

But come May 15th, city residents will have the final say on the matter.