Hospital tax to continue as usual

By Steve Hansen
QCS Managing Editor

Quay County’s special gross receipts tax that raises about $200,000 to operate the Dr. Dan C. Trigg Memorial Hospital will continue as usual after Jan. 1.

That’s good news for Quay County Commissioners and County Attorney Warren Frost. It will, however, cause a little pain for the state Department of Tax and Revenue, which must reinstate the machinery to collect the tax next year after preparing to refuse to collect it.

Santa Fe First Judicial District Court Judge Sarah Singleton granted an injunction Friday sought by Quay County. The injunction prevents the tax and revenue department from interfering with collection of the tax.

“I’m ecstatic,” said county commission Chairman Brad Bryant. “We need to continue this tax because we really need that hospital.”

The tax department said in October it would refuse to collect the tax, which Quay County voters elected to continue paying in a September special election. The tax department maintained it couldn’t legally collect the tax because there was a problem with the language of the ordinance voters approved to continue the tax.

The ordinance didn’t include a sentence that is part of the model state law requires counties to adopt to authorize the tax.

Singleton, however, ruled the deleted sentence does not change the meaning or intent and the measure can take full effect on schedule Jan. 1, according to Bryant, who attended the hearing.

Quay County voters approved continuation of the tax, equal to one-eighth of one percent of gross receipts, on Sept. 17. Voters have renewed the tax every five years since its inception in 1987.

Hospital Administrator Lance Labine said the money is used to match funds for grants. Losing the tax could lead to a loss of up to $800,000 in grant money, he said.

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