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Stuttgart Voters Approve Tax to Help Hospital

By a vote of 806 to 109, voters in Stuttgart passed a one percent sales tax, designed to help the Baptist Health Medical Center there.
By a vote of 806 to 109, voters in Stuttgart passed a one percent sales tax, designed to help the Baptist Health Medical Center there.

Hospital administrator Terry Amstutz said the hospital has lost about $1.2 million over the past year because of federal cuts in the Medicare program.

Amstutz said a 2013 review of hospital finances found that the facility was going to "run in the negative" over the next three to five years because of decreasing patient loads, and that an immediate influx of cash would be needed to keep the hospital running.

That's where the one percent sales tax comes in. Amstutz said he projects that the tax would bring in $2.2 million per year for his facility. Now that the vote has passed, the sales tax rate in Arkansas County will rise to 10.5 percent. The proposal does not include an end-date clause for the tax.

The hospital, which employs 250 full-time employees, has 49 beds and houses about 20 patients per day. Constructed in 1957, the facility is owned by the Stuttgart Regional Medical Center Board, which leases operations to Baptist Health.

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