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Whidbey General Hospital expansion heads to ballot box

In November, voters will be asked to increase property taxes to fund a $50 million expansion of Whidbey General Hospital.

Hospital commissioners voted Monday 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 virtually the same as the ballot measure that failed to pass by the necessary 60 percent supermajority in May 2011.

However, nearly 56 percent of Whidbey Island voters supported the measure.

If approved this time around, property owners will pay an estimated 29 cents per $1,000 assessed value on their property taxes.

The new hospital wing will be comprised of single rooms, which hospital officials say provide a healthier environment, improve patient safety and allow 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 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.

Commissioners want to give people the basics, but the current facility is outdated, he said. If voters approve the bond, it will take about two years to see results.

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

 

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