Pullman residents seemed likely to approve of a $29 million bond that would help expand Pullman Regional Hospital after a new vote count was posted late Thursday night, but observers said the vote was still too close to call.
On Thursday night, 59.6% of those who voted on the proposition approved it. To pass, 60% of those who vote on the measure must be in favor of it.
But passage also requires a minimum threshold of 3,745 votes to be valid. As of Thursday night, 3,668 ballots had been counted.
There are 1,000 ballots left to count in Whitman County, however, meaning that 77 more ballots need to be from Pullman for the proposition to be certified and that those votes have to put approval at or above 60%.
Official election results will not be validated until Nov. 26, and hospital officials acknowledged they will not be able to confidently declare victory or defeat until then.
The bond means a significant tax increase for Pullman residents, who are a part of their local hospital district. The owner of a $250,000 home would pay an additional $250 a year, if the new bond passes.
The $29 million bond will be matched with hospital and foundation funds to finance a $40 million revamp to hospital records, facilities and specialties offered. Without the bond, the hospital and its board of commissioners will have to get creative about financing their “Next Era of Excellence.”
“We might have to determine other changes necessary for us to have the financial capacity to pursue this in other ways,” said hospital CEO Scott Adams.
“Our needs are not going to change,” Megan Guido, chief marketing and community relations officer at the hospital, said. “We intend to still address those needs, but how we do it and do we do it differently are part of the options we’re looking at.”
If the proposition fails, it will be the second time. In April, not enough Pullman voters turned out for the single-issue ballot to validate the measure.
Pullman Regional Hospital has partnered with the WSU College of Medicine with the intent to apply for a family medicine residency program. If passed, the bond will help fund some of the improvements necessary for the residency program to be approved.
The election results are not a deal breaker for the residency program plans, however.
“We will do everything we can to continue to partner with Pullman and move it forward,” Christina VerHeul, director of communications at the College of Medicine, said.
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