Hospital approves $50 million bond vote

Voters will decide this November whether to increase property taxes to fund a $50-million expansion of Whidbey General Hospital.

Monday night, hospital commissioners voted to place the bond proposal on the general election ballot. The bond will pay for construction of a new wing at the hospital’s Coupeville campus.

The proposal is the virtually the same as the ballot measure that failed to pass by the necessary 60 percent supermajority in May  2011. Nearly 56 percent of Whidbey Island voters voted in favor of the measure.

If approved, property owners will pay a bit more than 29 cents per $1,000 assessed property value on their property taxes.

The new wing will be comprised of single rooms, which hospital officials say provide a healthier environment, improves with patient safety and allows the hospital to better comply with privacy regulations.

“Nothing has changed since the last time we went out to a vote,” Commissioner Grethe Cammermeyer said during the Monday evening hospital board meeting.

Commissioner Ron Wallin said there was a misconception about the single rooms when voters last considered the proposal.

“A private room is not a luxury room,” he said.

He added that commissioners want to give people the basics, but the current facility is outdated. Even if the voters approved the bond, it will be two years before voters will see results.

Commissioner Anne Tarrant said she sees the hospital expansion as a patient safety issue.

Whidbey General Hospital last went to voters with the $50 million bond in May 2011. Back then 55.49 percent of Whidbey Island voters supported the ballot measure, which was short of the 60 percent needed for approval.

Hospital CEO Tom Tomasino said no discussions have taken place yet about how to get the word out to voters. He said public forums and communication through social media will also take place.


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