Voters in Hot Spring County and Chicot County last week approved increases in local sales taxes to help finance operations at hospitals in Malvern and Lake Village, respectively.

Hot Spring County voters approved a five-year, 0.5% sales tax by a count of 4,844 for and 633 against. A lesser margin was recorded for Chicot County’s five-year, 1% sales tax, which passed by a vote of 1,244 in favor and 583 opposed.

The taxes will take effect Jan. 1. The hospitals will see their first revenue from the sales tax in March.

The tax is expected to generate $1.2 million to $1.4 million a year for Hot Spring County Medical Center. The 72-bed hospital, which was built in 1923 and refurbished in 1979, would have been closed without the additional tax revenue, officials said. The facility is the largest employer in the county and serves about 30,000 patients a year.

Hot Spring County Medical Center is operated by a private nonprofit group that leases the facility from the county.

Chicot Memorial Hospital in Lake Village is expected to receive $1.2 million a year for maintenance and operations from the expanded tax. The 25-bed county-owned hospital serves about 25,500 patients a year.

Paul Cunningham, senior vice president for the Arkansas Hospital Association, said at least 11 small community hospitals in the state receive revenue from sales taxes or property tax.

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