Public missing at hospital bond forum in Oak Harbor
By NATHAN WHALEN
Whidbey News Times Staff reporter
February 14, 2011 · Updated 9:20 AM
North Whidbey residents flubbed a chance to ask hard questions about an upcoming bond needed to fund expansion of Whidbey General Hospital.
Three hospital staff members, two commissioners, two former employees and a reporter were the only people who attended a public forum Thursday night at the Oak Harbor Senior Center.
“It’s kind of surprising,” hospital CEO Tom Tomasino said after helping put the folding chairs away.
The frugal North Whidbey community is typically a skeptical group wary of proposed tax increases. Recently, North Whidbey Fire and Rescue failed in two efforts to increase its levy.
Thursday’s meeting was the first of a series of meetings taking place throughout Whidbey Island in the coming weeks. Hospital officials had advertised the meeting in local newspapers, but Thursday’s empty chairs promoted new thinking.
“We’ll have to come up with innovative ways to get people out,” hospital spokesperson Trish Rose said.
The hospital will hold the following meetings in the coming weeks:
• Tuesday, Feb. 15, 1 p.m., Maple Ridge Assisted Living in Freeland.
• Tuesday, March 22, 12:30 p.m., Bayview Senior Center.
• Monday, March 28, 1 p.m., Oak Harbor Senior Center, 51 SE Jerome St.
Rose said she is working to find a time for a forum at the Coupeville Public Library, however a date hasn’t been set yet.
The hospital is hoping voters will approve a $50 million bond in May. The bonds will take 26 years to pay off and will cost homeowners 34 cents per $1,000 assessed property value.
The hospital board of commissioners will formalize the date and amount of the bond during its Monday evening meeting. The bond has to pass by a 60 percent supermajority.Contact Whidbey News Times Staff reporter Nathan Whalen at firstname.lastname@example.org or 360-675-6611 ext. 5058.