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ASH FLAT, Ark. (AP) - Sharp County voters have rejected a sales tax increase that would have funded a county-owned hospital.

The proposal for a 1.5 percent sales tax increase was defeated in a special election Tuesday. According to complete but unofficial returns, nearly 75 percent of voters opposed the measure.

The plan called for a permanent 1 percent tax and a temporary 0.5 percent tax. The group promoting the plan, the Sharp County Hospital Foundation, said supporters wanted to improve the quality of health care in the county.

Group spokesman Bob Evins tells The Jonesboro Sun the organization will decide in the next 30 days whether to pursue another proposal.

The county's only hospital closed in 2004, though White River Medical System has announced plans to open an emergency room in Cherokee Village.

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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