By Steve Wehrly/Journal reporter
Waldron Island residents have started the process to join the San Juan County Public Hospital District No.1.
In 2012, representatives of the Waldron Community Meeting, the island's property owners association, inquired about joining the San Juan Island-based hospital district. After two discussions with hospital district representatives, the Waldron Community Meeting voted at two successive meetings to request that Waldron be annexed into the hospital district.
The hospital district board at its January meeting voted to pursue annexation and appointed Commissioner Keri Talbott and EMS Chief Jim Cole to work on the annexation. Because residents of Crane Island have also inquired about annexation, Talbott and Cole will also determine whether to include Crane Island in the annexation process.
State law provides two methods for annexation. Either all the residents of the area to be annexed must petition the hospital district to annex them, or the commission must adopt a resolution of annexation, hold a public hearing and schedule an election of local voters at which a majority of voters must agree to the annexation.
Waldron residents and the hospital district are pursuing the public hearing and election method; the Crane Island annexation method has not been determined.
According to Cole, hearings will be held by the hospital district later this spring on Waldron and perhaps Crane. If the hospital district approves the annexation again after the hearings, state law provides that the voters on Waldron (or Crane) must approve the annexation by a majority vote.
Cole thinks that both the hospital district and Waldron Island will benefit from the annexation. Cole said annexation could meet the needs of island communities like Waldron, making them more self sufficient.
“We’ll be able to help the people of Waldron with access to EMS services, education and training programs, and possibly equipment for use on the island," he said. As for the hospital district and EMS, he added that Waldron “fits our mission and values.”
The 72 registered voters on Waldron Island will be faced with deciding whether they are willing to pay about $91 per $100,000 of assessed value additional property tax. The assessed value of all property on Waldron Island is about $46.3 million, which would result in additional taxes of about $41,000 for the entire island.
Peter Alexander, Secretary of the Waldron Community Meeting, said the WCM may have a comment after the Feb. 9 meeting of the association.