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WGH putting bond request back on ballot

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 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 an additional 29 cents per $1,000 assessed property value on their property taxes.

The new hospital wing will comprise single rooms, which hospital officials say provide a healthier environment, improves

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 hospital board meeting.

Commissioner Ron Wallin said there is 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Commissioners want to give people the basics, but the current facility is outdated, he said. 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.

Tom Tomasino, chief executive officer for the hospital, said no discussions have taken place about how to get the word out to voters.

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