South Central Kansas Medical Center’s Health Care Sales Tax initiative appears to have passed by a 2-to-1 margin in a special election conducted Sept. 6 with ballots mailed in by Arkansas City voters.

However, official results for the non-sunsetting 1-percent sales tax will not be available until after the canvass on Sept. 10.

“We are very excited about the outcome of the sales tax vote,” said interim SCKMC Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bowman.

“The support of the community is deeply appreciated!”

The change in sales tax — which has preliminary results of 1,320 votes in favor and 640 votes against — has been discussed for the last several months as a way to guarantee the majority of the hospital’s $1.9 million annual bond payment for the next 20 years.

This debt was incurred by the costs of constructing a new facility that opened in 2011 at Patterson Park Subdivision.

The new tax also will facilitate the refinancing of the bonds next year.

“Now that the sales tax has passed, it’s time to get to work in getting these bonds refinanced to hopefully a significantly lower (interest) rate, which will hopefully stabilize the bonds,” said City Manager Nick Hernandez.

As a result of this vote, the half-cent sales tax that has been on the tax rolls for nearly 10 years will come off three months early, dropping the sales tax rate in Ark City to 8.5 percent on Jan. 1, 2019.