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Yuma Regional Medical Center pushes back against property tax

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(The Center Square) — Yuma Regional Medical Center and the Goldwater Institute are warning Yuma County leaders about a property tax proposal they believe is illegal.

The Yuma Hospital District Board is once again requesting a property tax increase from the Board of Supervisors, which they did in 2020 as well. The medical center is advocating against the hike because it does not benefit from the increased tax, and the hospital has reportedly received feedback from the public regarding the previous hike.

Meanwhile, the Goldwater Institute argues that the county would violate state law if they approved the proposed property tax instead of sending it to the ballot for voters to decide.

“For the past two years, the Yuma County Hospital District—the governmental body charged with regulating the Yuma Regional Medical Center—has been bypassing Arizona’s clear voter approval requirements,” Goldwater Institute John Thorpe wrote in a news release on August 18. “Instead of letting voters approve or reject new taxes, the district has simply been sending its budget straight to the county Board of Supervisors, so that the board can directly impose a property tax on Yuma County residents.”

The district is looking for the increase to support its budget, which they approved on June 29. The Goldwater Institute alleges that there was not at least 24 hours of public notice given prior to the meeting.

The governing board and the medical center are currently in a lawsuit regarding the medical center’s lease agreement, and the hospital district is using property taxes to cover its legal fees, KYMA reported in February.

“It is also doubtful that a property tax, which the law authorizes only for ‘the purpose of funding the operation and maintenance of a hospital,’ A.R.S. § 1914(A), is an appropriate means for funding the District’s proposed budget here, which overwhelmingly consists of fees, not for the District’s “operation or maintenance of a hospital,” but instead to finance ongoing litigation against the hospital,” the letter states.

Yuma County’s Communication Office did not respond to a request for comment in time for publication.

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