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La Junta voters approve new nursing home - KOAA.com | Continuous News | Colorado Springs and Pueblo

La Junta voters approve new nursing home

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A campaign yard sign for the Yes on 5A and 5B campaign A campaign yard sign for the Yes on 5A and 5B campaign
LA JUNTA -

Voters in La Junta opened their hearts and their wallets this election cycle agreeing to a one percent sales tax increase to build and run a new nursing home in the community. The board of directors at the Arkansas Valley Regional Medical Center announced plans last year to close the nursing home they have run since the early 1970s.  That announcement motivated several people around town to form the Keep Our Loved Ones Local campaign which backed the two ballot questions.

Question 5B establishes a new 1 percent sales tax that will begin collection in January specifically to pay for construction of the new building and to subsidize future operation and maintenance costs. Question 5A establishes a Health Services Special District to oversee operations at the facility. 

"If you don't currently have somebody in a nursing home facility, you might know somebody," explained campaign manager Pam Denahy. "Once you talk to people about what this tax was truly about, that its about keeping our loved ones local, I think it resonated with a lot of people."

She points out that the sales tax will be cut in half after the bond debt is repaid. Voters also elected a five member board of directors for the new special district.

Construction will not begin overnight. Denahy explained the special district board members must establish the new government from scratch. Once all the bylaws and charters are settled, the board can begin the business of borrowing money and opening bids for contractors. Denahy expects the process to take at least 2 years.

Arguments published in the Otero County "Blue Book" voter information guide indicate that board may seek to borrow up to $16 million with maximum annual repayments of $1.5 million.

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