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Whidbey General Hospital bond struggling after first count

The first count of ballots in Tuesday's special election suggests that it may be a relatively close call whether or not the $50-million bond proposal to expand Whidbey General hospital will pass.

The majority of voters, just over 55.5 percent, cast ballots in favor of the measure, but it requires a 60-percent supermajority to pass. A total of 8,992 votes were in favor, while 7,208 were against the proposed bond.

The voter turnout was 44.7 percent in the first count, though the county auditor's office will continue to count ballots as they come in.

Whidbey General Hospital officials were guarded about the results of the initial vote count Tuesday night.

"The 60 percent mark is tough to reach especially in this economy," said Tom Tomasino, CEO of Whidbey General Hospital.

He said he'll have a better idea idea on how to best move forward once more ballots are counted. If the measure fails by a narrow margin, he said it's likely the hospital board may want to try again in the future.

Hospital officials want to build a new wing comprised of 39 single-bed rooms along with space to expand existing hospital programs.

If approved, the bond would cost homeowners 34 cents per $1,000 assessed property value.

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