On Tuesday, local voters verified what has been said around the community for the past eight months: Powell doesn't want to pay for Cody's hospital.
West Park Hospital's proposed $14.2 million tax failed to garner Powell's support, with voters casting ballots decidedly against the measure.
Overall, voters countywide, including a majority of Cody voters, nixed the proposal with just 2,872 (32.3 percent) in favor of the specific purpose tax and 6,026 (67.7 percent) against it, according to unofficial results.
The tax measure's defeat does not mean the project is unnecessary. We believe West Park Hospital's needs are genuine and that its emergency room must be renovated to bring it to code and ensure patient privacy.
However, Tuesday's results do indicate that a countywide 1-cent, specific purpose tax is not the best way to address those renovation needs.
For starters, the project did not get off on the best foot. In January, West Park leaders first approached the Cody City Council with the proposal — and a $38.7 million price tag.
Though that amount was later reduced to $14.2 million, the initial shock of a nearly $40 million tax proposal lingered in many voters' minds, tainting some residents' perception of the overall modernization project.
Original proposals also combined the hospital tax proposal with $10 million for a landfill tax proposal already on the table, further muddling early impressions.
An ongoing qualm for many Powell voters was the fact that West Park Hospital has a tax district in place and could raise the funding through property taxes. If West Park leaders successfully pursued that route, only residents in the hospital's tax district would pay for it.
That appears to be the best Plan B now that the 1-cent tax has failed, but there may be other ways to fund the necessary renovations.
We hope that West Park finds a way to fund its modernization project and encourage its board to find creative ways to engage community members in a future funding proposal.