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House Approves Tax Increase Without Vote 3/1/2012
After being stalled in the House of Representatives most of this week, legislation drafted to bail out the TownToyotaCenter was approved yesterday by a vote of 62-36. The bill will allow the City of Wenatchee to increase sales tax o.2% within the city limits without a public vote while separately providing the entire Public Facility District to decide on raising sales tax another 0.1% by a vote of citizens in April.
In debate on the House Floor yesterday, Representative Gary Alexander, urged lawmakers to vote no on the bill, criticizing the repeated calls for legislative action surrounding the public facilities district .
Representative Cary Condotta defended the bill and ensured lawmakers that the arena is a worthy investment.
The Wenatchee City Council will meet at 5:15 p.m. today to vote to impose the 0.2-percent sales tax increase.
The governing board of the Events Center Public Facilities District, which owns the arena, will then meet at 9 a.m. tomorrow to authorize a measure asking voter approval on a 0.1-percent sales tax increase across nine local jurisdictions, including Wenatchee.
All of the paperwork must be delivered to the Chelan and Douglas county auditors by 4:30 p.m. Friday in order to get the tax measure on the April 17 ballot.
And then, in order for the entire bailout package to work supporters of the arena will need to convince voters to approve the regional tax.
Wenatchee Mayor Frank Kuntz has stated publicly that if voters do not approve the 0.1% regional sales tax increase, the City of Wenatchee will cease financial contributions to the ill-fated event center. In this exchange with City of Chelan councilmember’s Erin McCardle and Mike Cooney at last weeks workshop to discuss sales tax measure, Mayor Kuntz spelled it out for rather clearly.
The revenues from both the Wenatchee and the regional sales tax increases would be used to pay off the arena’s outstanding $42 million debt and support daily maintenance and operations.
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