More than 100 Lava Hot Springs residents, unhappy about paying taxes for what they consider a financially unstable and little-used hospital, have asked Bannock County to exempt their community from the Marsh Valley Hospital District.
Phil Grant, a retired Lava Hot Springs man, presented county commissioners in Pocatello with a petition with 135 valid signatures."We're not trying to close the hospital in Downey and we're not trying to eliminate the doctor in Downey," Grant said Tuesday. "But we don't feel we should pay for a hospital in Downey."
He contends most Lava Hot Springs residents travel the few extra miles to Pocatello for medical care rather than the 28 miles to the Marsh Valley Hospital in Downey.
The Downey hospital suffered a net loss of almost $185,000 in fiscal 1987 and more than $186,000 the year before, according to a report by an official at Bannock Regional Medical Center in Pocatello.
"The board that is running the district has run it at a net loss," Grant said. "Nobody stays in business when you do that kind of business."
Grant has asked the Bannock County Commission to give local residents a vote on the issue, but commissioners and a county deputy attorney are unsure if that is possible.
Bill Bird, chief deputy prosecutor, said he is researching whether Lava Hot Springs residents alone can vote, or whether the election would have to include residents throughout the hospital district.
The commission has scheduled a public hearing on the issue next month.