Broadwater Health Center leaders planning next steps after voters reject maintenance levy

Posted at 7:39 PM, May 15, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-05 14:58:00-04

HELENA – Leaders with Townsend’s Broadwater Health Center are deciding how to move forward, after voters rejected a proposed property tax levy to pay for maintenance on the hospital building.

The Broadwater County Hospital District asked for a three-year levy that would collect about $287,000 a year. But district residents turned it down, 555 votes to 796.

A current levy that raises $170,000 annually will expire later this year.

The hospital district, which includes all of Broadwater County except a small area around Three Forks, is responsible for maintaining the health center building.

Leaders say the building is more than 30 years old, and systems will have to be replaced in the coming years. They asked for an increased levy to help pay for things like a new emergency generator, to maintain the hospital’s power if electric service goes out. They say repairs will also eventually be needed on the building’s heating and air conditioning systems, plumbing, rooftops and sidewalks.

Now, they will now have to adjust to the loss of the levy money they already had.

Brad Campbell chairs the Townsend Health Systems board, which oversees the health center’s operations. He said the expiration of the levy won’t affect the care they provide.

“We will continue to offer excellent primary care to this community,” he said. “That is our goal.”

But he said, if urgent repairs are needed, they may have to pay for them from the general fund, or look for loans or other sources of money.

Leaders say they are already planning to put another levy proposal before voters in November. They said they haven’t determined exactly how much they’ll ask for, but that it will likely be similar to what they proposed in this election.

“The reason we asked for what we asked for is that’s what we needed,” said Kyle Hopstad, the health center’s administrator.

The hospital district estimated the proposed levy would have cost $55.74 a year on a $200,000 home – an increase of $14.27 a year over the current levy that is about to expire.

Health center leaders thanked people who supported this levy request, and said they understand they will have to convince others why the levy is important. Campbell said he hopes more people in Broadwater County will come to the health center, and see the level of care they can receive.

“The people have started to recognize that the services provided here are first-class quality, so they’re coming,” he said. “We still need the rest of the community to come to the same realization.”

Leaders say Broadwater Health Center serves more than 1,000 emergency room patients each year. Others come in for the other services offered, from radiology to rehabilitation.