Local Groups Take Spotlight In Hearing On Sports Complex
A Washington House committee is now looking at a bill that's passed the Senate which would support a regional sports complex in the Chelan and Douglas county area.
Members of a group of local governments and organizations took turns speaking in favor of the measure Tuesday.
Link Transit CEO and Chelan Douglas Port Authority Commissioner Richard DeRock says they're taking a realistic approach to the possible sports complex.
"We absolutely understand that this something that has to be done within the resources that would be available to us if the voters approve it," said DeRock. "An we're going to go into it with the understanding that this is something that has to be self-contained and has to work within its own structure.”
Six members of local groups spoke in support of the bill at the House committee hearing.
Sasha Sleiman with the Chelan County Commission says the sports complex would enhance the local tourist industry and serve the overall community.
"Such a facility would allow us to support our underserved populations in townships that alone do not have the funds or access to these type of amenities," said Sleiman. "And this facility would enhance the quality of life for our local families across the socio-economic spectrum."
Sleiman was joined by the mayor of Wenatchee and East Wenatchee as well as members of groups who all signed a letter asking the House committee to approve the bill.
Signatories to the group letter included, 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.
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.
The measure 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 bill is also getting strong support from groups and community members in the Olympia area, where a regional sports or aquatic complex is also being looked at.
Democratic Senator Sam Hunt of Olympia is a co-sponsor of the measure, who appeared alongside East Wenatchee Republican Senator Brad Hawkins at the House committee hearing. Hawkins is the chief architect of the legislation.
The bill before the House Committee on Local Government passed the Senate earlier in the session by a 45-0 vote.