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Grays Harbor Community Hospital surpassed its goal of collecting 2,000 signatures to place a proposal to form a public-hospital district on an August ballot, and it has turned them in to the county auditor’s office for approval.

The petition garnered a total of 3,150 signatures, said David Quigg, the hospital’s director of public relations. Only 1,502 valid signatures are required, but the hospital set a higher goal in case some of the signatures were thrown out.

The hospital, currently a private, nonprofit institution, wants to become a public hospital to achieve greater financial stability, taking advantage of funding from the recently passed Sole Community Hospital legislation. The legislation would help the hospital increase its reimbursement for Medicaid patients.

A move to a public hospital also would give Community Hospital access to public funds, levied from the community.

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The hospital plans to seek 50 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value — the average rate for hospital districts — according to Quigg.

He said they may levy up to the maximum of what Quigg believed was 75 cents per $1,000.

If the measure to form the district passes, the board would have the ability to levy up to that maximum without voter approval.

The hospital submitted the signatures to the county commissioners, who then passed it on to County Auditor Vern Spatz, who calls the hospital’s wish to place the request on the August ballot “optimistic.”

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