WA House Set to Hear Bill On Wenatchee Regional Sports Complex
A bill in the state legislature to allow a regional sports complex in the Chelan and Douglas county area is getting a quick hearing in the House after passing the Senate.
A group of local governments and organizations has sent a letter to the chairperson of the House committee handling the bill asking for its passage.
Signatories to the group letter include, Chelan County, Douglas County, East Wenatchee, Wenatchee, Chelan-Douglas Regional Port Authority, Chelan-Douglas Transportation Council, Link Transit, Wenatchee Valley Chamber of Commerce, Confluence Health, and Our Valley, Our Future.
Chelan County Commissioner Kevin Overbay signed the letter, and he's clear that their support is not an endorsement of actually building the complex itself.
"Our testimony will remain consistent, unless there's been a changing of the commitment of this board," said Overbay. "We are in favor of the option. It does not lock us into the use."
Overbay or a county staff member will testify at the committee hearing Tuesday on the regional sports complex bill.
The measure allows for the creation of a special taxing district - a public facilities district - to finance the project.
It allows the new public facilities districts to impose a sales and use tax at a rate of up to 0.2 percent to fund the building of the sports complex and fund transportation improvements directly related to the complex.
Language in the bill clearly states that the tax would have to receive voter approval before it could be imposed.
East Wenatchee State Senator Brad Hawkins is the bill’s sponsor, and he’s also clear about its intent.
“It’s not support for a regional complex but is support for the bill that would allow us to have the government structure and a financing tool for local governments to potentially partner together and eventually, perhaps, ask voters to approve a regional sports complex.”
The bill actually allows local jurisdictions, which already have a public facilities district (PFD), to have an additional such district.
The distinction will be important specifically in Chelan and Douglas counties, where a PFD already exists.
The existing PFD was created to fund and oversees operations of the Town Toyota Center. It collects 0.1 percent sales tax from Wenatchee, East Wenatchee, Cashmere, Entiat, Waterville, Chelan and Rock Island, as well as Chelan and Douglas counties.
The component in the bill allowing for transportation improvements would free up money from the tax to be used for roadway infrastructure upgrades that have been discussed locally
The road upgrades would be in the immediate surrounding area of where the complex would be built.
There's some interest in locating the project in the Wenatchi Landing area just north of East Wenatchee, which sits on 283 acres near the Odabashian Bridge.
Hawkins secured $4 million in state funding for the Douglas County Sewer District to be extended into the area a few years ago.
The bill before the House Committee on Local Government passed the Senate earlier in the session by a 45-0 vote.